Gamers have praised Microsoft for its bold move to introduce the automated refunds for Xbox Live and Windows Store. However, Xbox Digital Refunds is a double-edged sword, meaning while it is a good thing for gamers but not necessarily for developers or publishers.
Before we even begin to discuss the topic at hand let us see how Xbox Digital Refunds actually work, and it is very simple. If you purchase a game from Xbox Live Store or from Windows Store, you have 14 days before you can claim a refund provided your playtime with the game is less than 2 hours.
As many of you might have noticed that it is the refund policy that Valve has applied to Steam refunds which Valve introduced back in 2015.
From a distance, this looks all well and good but when you take a closer look at it then you realize that for developers, especially the indie ones, this is a nightmare which could discourage them from developing games for Xbox One.
The reason that Xbox Digital Refunds are not good for indie developers is very simple. As the indie developers do not have a big publishers backing them up with cash, their games, despite being excellent most of the time, have a short playtime.
There are Many indie games that can be completed in an hour or two, which presents the problem with the refund policy. This policy will allow gamers to play that indie game and finish it in two hours and then they ask for a refund, while not all gamers are like this, but there are some bad eggs.
Now, this is almost equivalent of piracy of games which will result in the indie developer losing money, then either the studio will go bankrupt and will be shut down or the developer will switch the platform it develops its games for.
Indie developers themselves have raised concerns over Xbox Digital Refunds.
This is a genuine problem that could result in indie studios switching their platform of choice or the shutdown of the studio. Developers also raised this issue back in 2015 when Steam introduced its refund policy with 2-hour/14 days restriction.
However, there is a solution to this problem according to developer Chinese Room, who developed games like Everybody Has Gone To Rapture and Dear Esther.
According to the developer, instead of a 2-hour playtime restriction, Microsoft should restrict gamers to a certain percentage completed of the game to be eligible for a refund. Let’s say if players are restricted to 10% of the game’s completion, they will be able to judge if they want to play the game further or not and this will help indie devs.
On the other hand, the reason that the refund policy is good for consumers is that developers will make sure that their game is something that players want to play and is not bugs and glitch infested at launch.
In the light of this refund policy, developers will make sure that they are not releasing something that could potentially be refunded by a majority of gamers. In short, this policy will make sure most of the time that only the best of gaming experiences are being released through Xbox Live store and Windows Store.
What is your take on Xbox Digital Refunds? Do you think it would be good if Microsoft doesn’t make a change to it or Microsoft should consider changing the policy a bit? Let us know in the comments.