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How to get a refund on Steam

Steam website
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Steam, Valve’s game distribution service, is the go-to place for many people when it's time to pick up PC games. But what if that game you picked up doesn't turn out to be quite what you wanted? 

To keep customers happy, Valve makes it extremely easy to get a refund on Steam, provided you meet a couple of requirements outlined below.

The criteria for getting a refund on Steam applies to both full games and DLC; it applies to in-game purchases as well, albeit with slightly tighter restrictions. (The window for refunds on in-game purchases is 48 hours, and you can’t have used, modified or transferred the item in question.)

Valve’s refund policy is so generous that some developers have raised the alarm on it. Not all games are 20-hour epics, after all, and creators of short experiences have occasionally been shortchanged by people buying a title, rushing through it, and then getting a refund whether they enjoyed it or not. Please, don’t be that person: you’re just making developers poorer and less likely to create additional games. 

Still, there are legitimate reasons to request a refund. Did you buy a game by mistake? Did you not check the specs and find it runs abysmally on your computer? Did you just plain not like it? All these reasons are fair game for Valve, so here’s how you get that refund on Steam. 

How to get a refund on Steam 

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ve bought one of Valve’s own titles — Half-Life: Source — and then returned it. Here’s how to get a refund on Steam for it. 

1.  Head to help.steampowered.com and log in. 

How to get a refund on Steam

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

2. Once signed in, Steam will list the games you’ve recently bought or played. Select the title that you’re seeking a refund on. 

How to get a refund on Steam

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

3. Steam will ask you what the problem is, so select the most accurate reason from the list. Not all these routes give a refund option, but saying it’s not what you expected, that you’re having gameplay issues or that you want to remove the game from your library all do (assuming you meet the requirements outlined above.) 

How to get a refund on Steam

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

4. Select “I’d like to request a refund.” 

How to get a refund on Steam

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

5. From the drop-down menu, select the method you’d like your refund to be paid. 

How to get a refund on Steam

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

6. A confirmation screen will appear. There’s an optional explanation box you can fill in that may support your case, but it shouldn’t be necessary as long as you’re within the refund window. Press “submit request.” 

How to get a refund on Steam

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

7. You’re done! If you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake, press the button labelled “cancel refund request.” 

How to get a refund on Steam

(Image credit: Alan Martin)

It may take a few days before you get a response, but you’ll learn the result of your request for a refund via email either way. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.