A heartfelt message from a Campo Santo artist has sparked serious debate about Steam's refund policy.
Steam user Undercover Fish posted late last week on the message boards for first-person exploration game Firewatch, saying:
So this game was 18$. I purchased it because i enjoyed games like this. And I enjoyed this game. Alot. Like, way more than a healthy amount. But it was 2-3 hours. I feel like there could of been more, and im thinking of refunding. But here is my problem: I loved this game. It was a unique game with awesome narration and storytelling. I like the developers. I mean seriously, have you seen how active they are on theese forums? What other dev is that connected to their community? I want to support the developers, but there was so much more i could of got with my 18$. Should i refund, or hold on to it?
Many gamers responded, either in the affirmative or negative, including Firewatch environment and lighting artist Jane Ng.
Ng posted a heartfelt message, saying the 11-person studio "took a lot of risk to make this," going on to explain the financial and physical sacrifices the developers made to create "something special."
"We all gave it our all, to make this weird thing, and we had no idea if it was any good to anybody else. All we could do, was try the damn hardest to make something we are honestly proud of."
"So yes, I am sad when people think this game is not worth the money we asked for (which we thought was a fair ask)," Ng said.
Steam's official refund policy states that refunds can only be granted if the player has owned the game in question less than 14 days, and played it less than 2 hours; however, in many cases exceptions are granted.
Many indie developers – whose games are often short in length, and who have more at stake financially when sales are lost – have expressed displeasure at Steam users' ability to exploit the refund system and play through their games for free.
Undercover Fish later posted that they had "made [their] decision to keep the game. Campo Santo had more balls than Donald Trump on steriods [sic] to make this game, and they deserve the money."
Read our review of Firewatch – which took us twice as long as it did Undercover Fish – here.