Indie developers lash out at Microsoft over upcoming digital games refund policy

It’s another day and there’s another controversy surrounding Xbox One. Yesterday, Microsoft said that the ability to refund digital games for Xbox One and Windows 10 was coming soon and that the feature was currently being tested by a small percentage of Insiders. If you’ve played less than 2 hours of any title, the company will let you request a self-service refund within a fortnight. While customers rejoiced at the ability, certain game developers who are known for creating short 90-minute experiences were enraged.

Digital refunds are an incredibly pro-consumer feature but it does have the possibility of being abused. However, there are numerous ways to prevent such abuse by limiting the amount of refunds given each month to an account, denying refunds to accounts who constantly request refunds for every game, among other precautions. Steam has the exact same feature and it’s a little strange to see other developers—apart from The Chinese Room—solely attack Microsoft over this and pretend like Steam doesn’t have the same policy.

Microsoft can easily rectify this by changing the playtime requirement for games under a certain price point. That’s easy to implement. However, even the 2-hour system works because Steam manages it well. There really isn’t a need for any outrage over this. Instead of abusing online, maybe The Chinese Room and other [email protected] developers should’ve contacted their Microsoft liaison. This feature is still being tested and numerous changes will take place in the coming weeks. The company is highly receptive to feedback from developers and the solution is simple. It seems as though everyone prefers theatrics nowadays before working together on a concern.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft for clarification and hopefully get a resolution for these disgruntled developers. Hopefully Microsoft won’t rescind the feature over this new form of outrage because many smaller experiences are the ones that are broken on the console. For example, Blackwood Crossing, another game which takes a few hours to complete, suffers from frame rate issues and unwieldy controls on Xbox One. Maybe the refund policy is a blessing in disguise because it may limit the amount of technically unsound games on the console.

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