try before you buy —
DRM-free store now offers more generous refund terms than digital competitors.
For years now, downloadable PC gaming retailer GOG has offered a “money-back guarantee” only if a game you bought “doesn’t work” on your hardware. Today, the company has removed that requirement, offering an expansive new refund policy for up to 30 days after purchase, “even if you downloaded, launched, and played [the game].”
While users won’t have to provide a reason for their refund request when contacting customer support, GOG says in an FAQ that it reserves the right to “refuse refunds in… individual cases.” More broadly, that means the company will be “monitoring the effects of the current update to make sure no one is using this policy to hurt the developers that put their time and heart into making great games.”
That monitoring could end up being important, because all of GOG’s games are offered without any DRM protection. That would seemingly make it trivial for a customer to purchase and download a game, create a fully functional backup, and then ask for a refund while keeping an essentially free copy.
Even failing that, for many games a 30-day window provides enough time for an average player to play the game to completion before asking for a refund. Steam’s current refund policy limits players to 14 days and two hours of total playtime for this very reason.
How generous is too generous?
While GOG isn’t declaring any pre-set limits on how many refunds can be requested for a single account, the company asks that users “don’t take advantage of our trust by asking for an unreasonable amount of games to be refunded. Don’t be that person. No one likes that person.”
“We trust that you’re making informed purchasing decisions and will use this updated voluntary Refund Policy only if something doesn’t work as you expected,” the FAQ continues. “Please respect all the time and hard work put into making the games you play and remember that refunds are not reviews. If you finished the game and didn’t like it, please consider sharing your opinion instead.”
GOG echoed that sentiment in a tweet accompanying the announcement, saying that “this update was possible thanks to our community’s respect for all the time and hard work put into creating the games you buy on GOG.com and playing by the rules. We can only hope and encourage users to continue to do so.”
GOG’s new policy offers much more generous terms than competing online gaming platforms. Most competing services only offer a 14-day window after purchase for requesting a refund. That might be guided by Europe’s recently enacted digital refund regulations, which require retailers to offer EU citizens refunds for any reason within that time period.
Outside of Europe, though, the precise platform limits on refund requests can vary widely. Steam and Xbox restrict refunds after two hours of total playtime. EA’s Origin only honors refund requests within 24 hours of the first game launch, and Google Play says you “may” get a requested game refund within 48 hours of your purchase. On PSN, you can’t get a refund after you download your purchase unless the game is “faulty,” and Apple’s iOS App Store only offers refunds with a valid reason.
By offering looser refund terms, GOG could convince some customers to feel more confident making a spur-of-the-moment purchase decision. But the new policy will seemingly require some heavy monitoring to avoid abuse. If that ends up being unfeasible, GOG says it reserves the right to “let you know about any future adjustments in the voluntary Refund Policy in advance.”