We asked Microsoft if there were any contingencies for games that could be completed in under two hours. They replied, however, its pretty clear there isn’t a firm solution to this issue yet.
Microsoft: “We’re always looking for new ways to improve the customer experience and regularly release new features into the Insider Program to encourage and foster fan feedback, which helps us test and refine features before they reach general availability. Earlier today, we enabled self-serve refund pilot testing for digital content via the Xbox and Windows Insider Programs and this testing is presently limited to select Insider members. Insiders can learn more about the criteria for claiming digital refunds via the Insider Hub. Beyond that, we have nothing further to share.”
Some developers have already begun expressing displeasure at the new refund policy, including Dear Esther developer, The Chinese Room.
It’s REALLY simple. Refunds should operate off a percentage of game completed. Simple, fair, representative. This 2 hour thing is just cock
— The Chinese Room (@ChineseRoom) April 13, 2017
Hopefully a good balance can be found to make both players and developers happy with this issue.
In very quiet fashion, today a new refunds policy has emerged for Xbox Live content. Currently, in testing with the Alpha Ring of the Xbox Insider Program, the new policy lays out a framework for self-actioned refunds on games across Xbox One and Windows 10.
Previously, refunds have been possible on Xbox Live, but there were no clear rules around when or how they are offered, instead relying on contacting Xbox Support and seemingly leaving it to the discretion of the support agent. Rumors have always swirled around how to maximize chances of a refund, or under which circumstances they are offered, but today’s news will make it much clearer, and allow the user to process their refunds when meeting the criteria laid out.
Note, though, that as this is currently only available to members of the Alpha Ring of the Insider Program, the criteria could change depending on feedback therein, or any number of other factors, before the new policy comes into effect for the general Xbox population.
The current policy, as laid out in an update in the Xbox Insider Hub, is as follows:
• Games and apps are eligible for self-service refunds within 14 days of purchase if you have less than 2 hours of play time across all accounts.
• DLC, season passes, and add-ons are not eligible for self-service refunds.
• The game or app must be downloaded and launched before requesting a self-service refund.
• You must wait for at least 1 day after the game or app’s release before requesting a self-service refund.
• Certain Windows 10 apps may not be eligible for self-service refunds.
• Microsoft reserves the right to block access for users who abuse self-service refunds.
The language is very straightforward, and sets clear expectations around what you can refund: it needs to be a recent purchase, and you need to have at least played it, but not played enough to be done with it. The new policy is very similar to one Steam rolled out last year, and while on the whole a good step does, of course, leave a bit of uncertainty surrounding those games which can be completed in under two hours.
XBLA Fans has reached out to Microsoft for clarification regarding those games which can be completed within the “refund window,” but no reply had been received at the time of publishing.
Processing the refunds is also a fairly straight-forward step. Currently, the user will need to navigate to Microsoft.com on a web browser, rather than anything that can be done directly from the console’s dashboard. It is not mentioned whether refunds functionality will be added to the dashboard, but that is, of course, something that can additionally be put into the Insider Program for further testing before a public roll-out.
The steps for processing a refund are as follows:
To request a self-service refund:
1. Navigate to account.microsoft.com and sign-in [sic].
2. From the top menu bar, select Payment & Billing > Order History. [The button actually says “Purchase History”.]
3. Navigate to a purchased game or app, and select Request a refund.
For qualifying games, this is the screen the user sees:
Aaero happened to be a good example for showing off the feature, and not a game the user intended to refund. For more on Aaero, read our review.
In all, refunds are another feature that has often been requested, and the Xbox of late is making it a priority to hear and act upon feedback; this is another good step in that direction.