Steam has changed its policy for issuing refunds — here’s what you should know before playing an early access game

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(Image credit: Steam)

Steam is one of the most lenient game distribution platforms when it comes to refunds, and my experience has always been an easy sail whenever I’ve needed to return a game digitally. As long as you request a refund on Steam within fourteen days and don’t play the game for more than two hours, then you can get your money back no matter the reason — even if you simply get bored.

But those rules didn’t exactly apply to early and advanced access programs. This meant that people could play games ahead of their release date for days and request a refund once they were satisfied. The no-time limit became a huge loophole that people exploited, and I mean, it makes total sense. 

As of April 24, that loophole has been sealed tight. Valve has changed its refund policy for early and advanced access so that people can no longer play over the two-hour limit. If you plan on playing a game before its release date, keep in mind that you only have two hours to decide whether it’s worth your money. 

Here are the full details on Steam’s refund policy:

"When you purchase a title on Steam prior to the release date, the two-hour playtime limit for refunds will apply (except for beta testing), but the 14-day period for refunds will not start until the release date. For example, if you purchase a game that is in Early Access or Advanced Access, any playtime will count against the two-hour refund limit. If you pre-purchase a title which is not playable prior to the release date, you can request a refund at any time prior to release of that title, and the standard 14-day/two-hour refund period will apply starting on the game’s release date."

You can still get a refund, no questions asked

While you might be disappointed, the refund policy hasn’t changed regarding why you want to request a refund. As I mentioned before, Steam will continue to be lenient when giving your money back for a game, whether that’s because you didn’t like the content or you accidentally added a random game to your basket (don’t worry, it happens). 

I remember buying “Devour” and immediately regretting it after ten minutes. This multiplayer horror game certainly didn’t live up to my expectations. Since my playtime was short, I quickly requested a refund and it was accepted on the same day! Although you can’t spend hours and hours playing an early access game anymore, you still have a good two hours to determine how much you like it. 

Valve essentially wants people to be mindful of their playtime when it comes to early and advanced access games. Since these releases could still be in development, it wouldn’t be fair to form a solid opinion until the final version has been released to everyone else. That way, everyone in the gaming community, including the players and developers, fairly evaluates the game. 

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Alix Blackburn
Staff Writer, Streaming

Alix is a Streaming Writer at Tom’s Guide, which basically means watching the best movies and TV shows and then writing about them. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Screen Rant and Bough Digital, both of which sparked her interest in the entertainment industry. When she’s not writing about the latest movies and TV shows, she’s either playing horror video games on her PC or working on her first novel.