Epic Games is continuing to pile the pressure on digital distribution giant Valve, announcing that it is modifying the refund policy on its nascent Epic Games Store to match its rival Steam's policy - meaning you can get a refund for any reason, so long as you haven't played a title for more than two hours.
Valve won plaudits from gamers back in 2015 when it introduced a permissive automated refund system: So long as it hadn't been more than 14 days since a game was purchased on its Steam platform, and said game hadn't been played for longer than two hours, refund requests - for any reason, from the game not working properly through to simply not enjoying the title - would be automatically approved instantly and without the need to wait for a customer service representative to review the request.
The Epic Game Store, announced late last year, is gunning for Steam - to the point of splashing the cash in order to secure Tom Clancy's The Division 2 as a semi-exclusive title, along with future Ubisoft games - and its latest move is to mirror Valve's refund approach. Speaking via his personal Twitter account, director of publishing strategy Sergey Galyonkin explains: 'We also changed our refund policy. Unlimited refunds within 14 days of purchase and under 2 hours played. The team is working on the self-service solution, but for now, you'll have to go through player support.'
The latter is the only way in which Epic's refund policy differs from Valve's: Where Steam refunds are fully automated and instant if they are within the 14-day/two-hour period, Epic Games Store refunds are for the moment entirely manual. For Galyonkin, though, the shift seems like a backwards move compared to the policy it replaces: 'Honestly, I believe the previous [refund policy] with no limit on the time played was more generous. Most people don't refund more than two games a year but could require more than 2 hours to see if a game is bad. But it was too hard to communicate that version properly. [But] the reaction to this change certainly was positive, so we will stick with the new system.'
Galyonkin has also indicated that user reviews will be coming to the platform in the near future, but that developers will be required to opt into having reviews available on their store pages and that Epic is working on 'a solution against review-bombing', where controversial titles can be flooded by a vast wave of negative - or, less commonly, positive - reviews as a means of punishing the publisher or developer.
Meanwhile, the Epic Games Store is continuing to give away one free game every fortnight to tempt users into installing the client and trying it out. At the time of writing, the free game was What Remains of Edith Finch.
January 24 2020 | 12:00