Valve has just massively overhauled its Steam refund policy, allowing customers to apply for refunds on “nearly any purchase”, and for “any reason”. There are some small dependencies of course, and refunds differ between different types of products e.g. bundles, movies etc.
But the good news is, for the most part, Valve will give your dosh back if you’re unhappy.
“You can request a refund for nearly any purchase on Steam—for any reason.” stated the announcement. “Maybe your PC doesn't meet the hardware requirements; maybe you bought a game by mistake; maybe you played the title for an hour and just didn't like it.”
The overarching policy is that the refund in question must be made within 14 days of purchase, and you cannot have more than two hours played with any game. However, even when falling outside of this requirement, Valve will still “take a look” and see if anything can be done.
Here’s the exact policies on the variety of different products Steam offers, and their individual refund requirements.
- Refunds on Downloadable Content: DLC purchased from the Steam store is refundable within fourteen days of purchase, and if the underlying title has been played for less than two hours since the DLC was purchased, so long as the DLC has not been consumed, modified or transferred. Please note that in some cases, Steam will be unable to give refunds for some third party DLC (for example, if the DLC irreversibly levels up a game character). These exceptions will be clearly marked as nonrefundable on the Store page prior to purchase.
- Refunds on In-game Purchases: Steam will offer refund for in-game purchases within any Valve-developed games within forty-eight hours of purchase, so long as the in-game item has not been consumed, modified or transferred. Third-party developers will have the option to enable refunds for in-game items on these terms. Steam will tell you at the time of purchase if the game developer has opted to offer refunds on the in-game item you are buying. Otherwise, in-game purchases in non-Valve games are not refundable through Steam.
- Refunds on Pre-Purchased Titles: When you pre-purchase a title on Steam (and have paid for the title in advance), you can request a refund at any time prior to release of that title. The standard 14-day/two-hour refund period also applies, starting on the game’s release date.
- Steam Wallet Refunds: You may request a refund for Steam Wallet funds within fourteen days of purchase if they were purchased on Steam and if you have not used any of those funds.
- Refunds on Bundles: You can receive a full refund for any bundle purchased on the Steam Store, so long as none of the items in the bundle have been transferred, and if the combined usage time for all items in the bundle is less than two hours. If a bundle includes an in-game item or DLC that is not refundable, Steam will tell you if the whole bundle is refundable during check-out.
- Purchases Made Outside of Steam: Valve cannot provide refunds for purchases made outside of Steam (for example, CD keys or Steam wallet cards purchased from third parties).
- VAC Bans: If you have been banned by VAC (the Valve Anti-Cheat system) on a game, you lose the right to refund that game.
- Movies: We are unable to offer refunds for movies on Steam.
- Refunds on Gifts: We are unable to offer refunds for gifts after they have been redeemed by the recipient.
With all that in mind, Valve are pretty strict when it comes to people aiming to abuse the system. “Refunds are designed to remove the risk from purchasing titles on Steam—not as a way to get free games.” said Valve. “If it appears to us that you are abusing refunds, we may stop offering them to you.”
But this won’t apply if you happen to purchase a game right before a sale starts. “We do not consider it abuse to request a refund on a title that was purchased just before a sale and then immediately rebuying that title for the sale price.”