Xbox One To Introduce Game Refunds – But Will PS4 Follow?

Microsoft have begun implementation on their latest online scheme – to include a full xbox one digital game refund option with every app or game purchase given that it meets the appropriate criteria. It’s a system that’s been in operation for Steam for a while now, and works well with a trusted (or threatened) client base, however whether or not Sony and Nintendo will follow suit is another matter.

Microsoft will allow you to grab a refund on your latest purchase given that you have met the following guidelines:

  • Your download is not a DLC, season pass, or game add on
  • Your game has been downloaded and launched before you request a refund
  • It has been over a day since the game’s release


The restrictions seem to cover Microsoft against any abuse from parties willing to repeatedly spend an hour and 59 minutes in every game to say they’ve played it before running back for their cash. Don’t be deceived by the necessity for download and launch, if it’s a cooling off period you’re in need of, it will be easy to simply get to the menu screen and then backtrack on last night’s post-pub purchases. I’ve always tutted at PlayStation and Xbox’s lack of cooling off period, physical products are returned straight after purchase if the buyer changes their mind, and yet a digital copy that never runs out of stock and can’t be damaged through first hand use is off limits.


That being said, I understand the need for such heavy restrictions. Things can quickly get dire if you let patrons run amock in games for hours before demanding their cash back. No Man’s Sky is at once a perfect example of why we need digital refund schemes and why they could be dangerous. Buyers who were genuinely expecting a different experience were owed their money back if they believe they were sold a product that was not advertised to them – i’m controversially of the pro-Hello Games opinion that i knew exactly what i was getting myself in for when i preordered and loved every hour of it. However, the players who had put 50 hours or so into the game had their money’s worth in that play time, regardless. They clearly stuck around for 50 hours for something, so a refund would be completely out of the question.

no mans sky.png

This is why such strict refund rules are necessary in the digital video game world. The Microsoft storefront isn’t necessarily getting anything back in return for relinquishing your cash, unlike physical retailers. However, I see it highly unlikely that Nintendo and Sony will follow suit.

It’s the cold, hard money of the case. Sony doesn’t need to offer refunds to match Microsoft. When choosing between one or the other, it’s not going to be a deal maker for a prospective buyer. Perhaps Microsoft can get away with being the company you can try games out for a couple of hours on before getting your back with, but you’ll have to be trying out games that aren’t worth your time in the first place if you’re not hooked in those hours.

xbox one ps4 controllers

Although, it’s unlikely Xbox One will become the pushover of the market. They have strict warnings of consequences in place for those who abuse the system, but how many times can you get away with it? Surely it’s a good thing that you can demo a $60 title before you take the full plunge – just like the good old days.

Fellow PlayStationers and Xboxers, what do you think? Would you be tempted to buy a full game just to kick around with it for an hour and then get your cash back from Microsoft? Is it so bad that it requires consequences if you do use the refund system as a demo technique in the face of such rising game prices? Let’s talk in the comments.


8 thoughts on “Xbox One To Introduce Game Refunds – But Will PS4 Follow?

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  1. It’s pretty much the same policy as Steam and it’s a policy that should be the case for all digital game sales. Whilst the digital marketplace for consoles isn’t nearly as messy as Steam, the customer still needs to be protected from, and have the option to return, poor quality products.
    I suspect this may well be useful once the Scorpio comes out, as I worry about games having an inadequate framerate on older iterations of the system (or maybe I’m just paranoid).

  2. I’d gladly use the refund policy as a safety net, though I wouldn’t be slapping down $60 and asking for a refund constantly.

    I have personal experience dealing with that kind of behavior during my tenure at GameStop. I followed the return policy as loosely as possible, which made my store popular in my community. We would regularly return used games for full value up to the seven day mark, and for the most part people would be pretty good about it. However, I had more than my fair share of customers that abused the return policy.

    Some customers would buy a used game and beat it within the return window, then return it to get their money back. Others more commonly would buy a game they wanted, but would return it, only to come back in later in the week to buy it again. It got to the point where my sales were suffering, and I started getting scrutinized by my District Manager. I don’t think that most people would abuse the system that Xbox is putting in place, mostly because the time period is so low. The restrictions are sadly, quite necessary.

  3. Nice article! I think it would be an interesting step if they allowed players to rent new releases before purchasing them. Back when Blockbuster was still in existence, I used to rent games before deciding to buy (RedBox tries but it just doesn’t have the selection). You could play the game for a reduced rate, but then it goes away and you either need to buy it or rent it again (which is more $$ for the devs).

    Having said that, I think some restrictions are fine. Digital downloads and DLC provide an interesting dynamic of purchasing/returning products, and we need to be sensitive to that, as well. And at any rate, if you’re only going to play with it a few hours before returning it, I’d almost say that devs having demos available (first 2 hours or something) for free would be less of a monetary hassle than buying and returning. Or allow people to rent, like I mentioned above. I don’t generally download games, so maybe that’s already an option, but if it’s not, it should be!

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