Back in the day, we all used to get our games on discs to install with an old-fashioned optical drive. The move to digital downloads offered some clear convenience advantages, but there are also more restrictions without that physical copy. GOG recently announced a surprisingly lenient refund policy that lets players get their money back up to 30 days after buying a game. However, it turns out the storefront didn’t consult developers before it made this change, and some of them are worried it could affect their bottom lines.
GOG (formerly known as Good Old Games) is a Steam competitor operated by CD Projekt Red (CDPR). You might know CDPR as the developer behind games like The Witcher 3 and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077. From the beginning, GOG has focused on offering games without DRM, much to the delight of gamers everywhere.
As CDPR has become a force in the industry, GOG has become a more prominent way to sell games. Despite being connected to a major development studio, GOG didn’t ask developers for input about the policy change beforehand — they weren’t even told in advance of the blog post. As we pointed out after the policy went into effect, GOG’s lack of DRM could make it easier for people to cheat the system. That’s not what has most developers concerned, though. They’re mostly fretting over the length of GOG’s return period.
Well, I don’t know about this one.
30 days is a lot more than I feel is necessary to evaluate a game, and a lot more than almost all games take to complete if you play them for an hour daily.
Young me would definitely abuse the hell out of this. https://t.co/kKVnZpwboj
— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) February 27, 2020
Developers have pointed out that 30 days is probably longer than you need to decide whether you like a game. However, it’s probably long enough to beat most games. Playing an hour or two per day is enough to complete even big AAA titles (at least those not made by CDPR itself). There’s very little stopping players from beating a game and getting a refund at the end of the month.
Some developers have told Eurogamer that they saw substantial revenue drops when Steam instituted its much less generous return policy several years back. They worry GOG’s version could cost them even more money. Others are just annoyed that GOG (and other game distributors) have complete control over how their games are sold, and no one sought input from developers in advance of the change.
For its part, GOG says it will aim to prevent abuse by monitoring account activity. If someone is refunding a lot of games near the limit, GOG reserves the right to deny refunds. It also asked gamers politely not to ruin it for everyone. Time will tell if developer fears are unfounded or not.