Are Gamers Thieves For Getting Refunds?

While browsing and reading the seemingly never ending articles regarding video game controversies out there, this article stood out rather glaringly in. A former Sony employee calling some gamers thieves for getting refunds for “No Man’s Sky” after playing for 50 hours. So let’s take a look at the overall argument.

Looking at the fifty-hour comment things seem a bit off. Later on, in his tweet chain, he mentions five billion hours not being long enough to see all the content the game has to offer. So his opening argument is that gamers don’t deserve a refund on something they have not even experienced a significant percentage of.

No Normal Man Can Have This Sky

He then goes on to say that the discussion is about a work of art as opposed to a factory product. While one might be quick to agree with his assessment when regarding video games this would be dependent on what form of art we are talking about. In the form of a painting, for instance, people have the ability to look at the entirety of the piece before having to make a purchasing decision. Or at least have input on the art they might be potentially commissioning. In the case of a video game, in an age where gamers are dealing with dishonest games journalists trying to strike up controversy on any game they can to rack up clicks, or even push a garbage game as something completely awe-inspiring. You are left with a customer base who have sometimes very few reasonable means of being able to get a proper evaluation of a video game before it’s purchase due to greed and dishonesty.

He continues with his argument saying he would only ask for a refund on a game if it was “broken at boot”. It is probably safe to assume he means broken at launch. In which case from what I have read and heard, there were several elements of the game that were in fact broken at launch which would by the standards of Shahid here warrant a return be granted. Well, what if the broken elements of the game were encountered 50 hours in?

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The rest of his tweets while they offer insight into why he formed his opinion the way he did, they do not appear to add anything to his overall argument. This seems to be the opposite argument of a controversy I remember reading about some time ago that was spawned from this article regarding “The Beginners Guide”. In which the writer of the article calls it one of the best new IP’s of the year but also tells people they may have a valid reason to want a refund after beating the game so be sure to beat it “within your Steam refund window”.

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If a game is only two hours long should you have a right to a refund if after beating it you feel it did not live up to expectations? What if you were disappointed completely by the ending? What if it is potentially just thirty seconds long? Such as with the game “Half Minute Hero” should you not be entitled to a refund after having beaten a game that’s very nature is to be beaten in half a minute? Should you be stuck with a game you do not like based on hours played? Or based off a percentage of the game you have experienced? Perhaps a mixture?

There is also something to remember about video games. Most of the time, you don’t own it. The EULA included with most games are sure to remind you that you are only purchasing a license in order to be allowed to play the game and that the game developer or publisher has the right to, at any time revoke your license in most instances. People who run “Let’s Play” channels on youtube could potentially be argued that the video game they are playing is being used for commercial purposes which are against the EULA of most video games. Trading a game to a Gamestop, for instance, is also a violation of most EULA’s. So really, can asking for a refund on your license to play the game really be considered theft when most of the time you aren’t even given legal ownership of the game you purchase to do with the product as you please?

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Now in spirit, I agree with Shahid that you probably should not be returning a video game you have played for fifty hours over the course of a week. However, to say it should not be allowed at the same time denies gamers vital rights to protect them from a lot of dishonesty that is flying around these days. Also, it is difficult to call something like this theft. By returning it you are giving up the right to ever play the video game again, and while Steam for instance has refunded games for players over the two-hour play mark it is more than likely that 50 hours of play is the rare exception as opposed to the rule.

Joshua Wiitala


Just a man who has been playing video games against doctors orders for nearly 30 years. The 80's was filled with idiots. Want to reach me? @JoshuaWiitala on Twitter.