Microsoft will be soon allowing users to request refunds for Xbox One or Windows 10 games that have been played for less than two hours.
As reported on Reddit and later verified by Eurogamer, the feature is currently part of the Xbox One Preview Programme but will be eventually made available to all Xbox One and Windows 10 users. It appears that the process will be heavily automated, though there will be checks in place to prevent abuse of the refund system.
In their Preview Programme Update, Microsoft stated:
“In support of offering gamers the freedom of choice, we’re making changes to the Microsoft Store purchase experience by offering customers a simple way to instantly return digital products like games and apps through account.microsoft.com.”
There will be, however, three provisos to gaining a refund. Firstly, the game or app in question must have been used for less than two hours. Secondly, it must have been purchased less than fourteen days ago. Finally, the game or app must have been out for at least one day.
The first two terms mirror Valve’s Steam Store refund policy, which has been in effect for nearly two years. Though the Xbox Marketplace is apparently more stringently policed and not subject to the zero-quality “asset flips” (games that merely repackage purchased assets) that frequently crop-up on the Steam Store.
Microsoft is the only console manufacturer to offer a refund option for digital items, with Sony and Nintendo only offering refunds in exceptional circumstances. Several purchasers of No Man’s Sky, for example, wrote of the difficulty they had in obtaining a refund when it transpired the game was not exactly as advertised.
It’s unclear how the refund policy will apply to those who pre-order digital purchases, a curious practice that is encouraged by both Sony and Microsoft; DLC will also not be refundable. Whether Sony or Microsoft follow suit remains to be seen.