Steam, Consumer Rights and Niche Cases
This is a very quick piece i feel is more of a quick rebuttal than actual content and so will not appear under my usual byline at SuperNerdLand. I’m probably going to do a longer piece on Steam Refunds when all the initial excitement has calmed down and I've had time to digest the fictional aspects of the returns system.
With that in mind i felt i should quickly point out what troubles me about this:
This is Nina Freeman, an indie developer who receives a baffling amount of coverage (generally from her friends). She’s also right; this will cause people who buy a game and find it to have under two hours of worthwhile content to them to return it. It is also a massive boon for consumer rights and a giant leap forward towards bringing Steam in line with existing consumer law in the UK, EU and beyond. If you are an indie developer who makes 30 seconds games (most of Nina’s games are free by the way) and feel the five minute rule discriminates against you ‘art vignettes’ then… tough. On balance it helps prevent abuses of the review system. What you are asking steam to do is make life worse for the MAJORITY of users to make life easier for a tiny MINORITY of navel-gazing indie devs.
Steam is a mass-market platform. It is not the only platform. There are plenty of other places to host 30 second games (might i suggest Newgrounds?) I find it pretty hard to swallow that such a small but vocal clique is making demands that are a detriment to gamers and a benefit to only them. You do not have a legitimate concern- you have a selfish demand. And when it comes to putting the consumer first it’s about time someone put more power in gamers hands over their own purchases.
Yes. Steam’s policy changes have a negative impact for incredibly short, un-replayable and dissatisfying games people feel ripped off enough to return. But they have a largepositive impact for every consumer who uses the service. And on balance i can live with a couple of hipsters mopping up tears with their neon hair and weeping into their waxed mustaches about their minuscule ‘art’ projects no one will play if it means Steam finally complies with the same consumer protection laws afforded to physical games.