Here’s an interesting read from Kotaku:
In the world of Amazon’s Kindle, you can download books digitally — and return them. Could this be a workable idea for gaming?
Kotaku writer discovered last week that books, bought digitally and downloaded to the device, can be returned.
This is something I didn’t think was possible with digital content. I’ve downloaded games to my DS, iPhone PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii and not once did I see an option to return a mistaken or bad purchase for any reason. Of course, in physical stores, products can be returned, sometimes only if in shrink wrap, usually within a set number of days. Regardless they can be returned, offering the consumer some security in their purchase.
The Kindle offers the consumer a nice, retail-like return and refund system. Here’s the official Amazon policy on that:
Returning Kindle Content
Any content you purchase for Kindle from the Amazon Kindle store is eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within 7 days of the date of purchase. Once a refund is issued, the item will be removed from Your Media Library and will no longer be readable on your Kindle. To request a refund and return, click the Customer Service button in the Contact Us box in the right-hand column of this page to reach us via phone or e-mail. Please make sure to include the title of the item you wish to return in your request.
And here’s Steam policy regarding refunds for games downloaded through the service:
As with most software products, we will not offer refunds for purchases made online as outlined in the software license – please review Section 4 of the Steam Subscriber Agreement for more information.
We can make an exception for pre-ordered games if the request is received prior to the release date.
And here’s Microsoft’s Xbox Live purchase policy:
Refund Policies. Unless otherwise provided by law or in connection with any particular Service offer, all charges are non-refundable and the costs of any returns will be at your expense. There are, however, certain circumstances under which you may be entitled to a refund for certain Services.
The author of the text doesn’t know if there is a policy for allowing users refunds for the PlayStation Network or Nintendo download stores either.
This is GameStop’s return policy for purchases made in their physical stores:
Returns and exchanges are subject to the following guidelines:
• A receipt is required for all returns and exchanges.
• Unopened new merchandise may be returned for a refund or exchanged within 30 days of purchase.
• Opened new merchandise may be exchanged for the identical item within 30 days of purchase but, with
the exception of opened new accessories, cannot be returned for a refund.
• Used (pre-owned) merchandise and opened new accessories may be returned for a refund within 7 days
of purchase or exchanged for the identical item within 30 days of purchase.
• We reserve the right to refuse any return and to require that certain items be returned directly to the
Nothing like the GameStop policy is available for digitally bought games.
Consumers of digital books using the Kindle have a shot at returning titles within seven days of purchase. Gamers have no such option when buying digitally.
And the writer continues with:
I’ve inquired with Amazon about why they have this policy and how often it is used, but it has me wondering about the applicability of a return/refund system for digitally downloaded games. A seven-day window similar to Amazon’s could be abused by gamers who play a downloaded game through and return it. Or it could provide gamers the peace of mind to download a game they otherwise can’t re-sell to a store or friend, things they might do to alleviate the cost of a game and minimize the risk of a bad purchase.
Amazon’s either ahead of the curve, about to learn some hard lessons or operating with a medium that plays by other rules. It’s hard to tell yet, but it bears watching and hopefully stokes conversation about what digital consumers have a right to do with the content they pay for.
And here are few words from me:
As for Steam refund policy I know from my own experience that they do refund games – but only in special circumstances. For example I’ve bought Stubbs The Zombie game a while back when it was on deal – it turned out the game was always causing blue screens or lockups for ATI Radeon graphic cards – and got a refund for it (a little window pops up in Steam client then saying that your purchase was refunded). The second game that I got refund for was Universe At War – it was ALWAYS crashing in one moment in the game and after 60 e-mails with both Steam and SEGA support (!) they gave me my money back.