No Man’s Sky is not the game a lot of people wanted it to be. Over the weekend, people sought refunds en masse, and many reported that retailers like Amazon, Steam, and PSN offered unconditional or nearly unconditional refunds. That’s not entirely true.
No Man’s Sky refunds became the discussion topic du jour on sites like Twitter,NeoGAF, and Reddit, and users began recounting their success stories. Some reported that they’d managed to squeeze cash from Amazon, Steam, and PSN despite set-in-stone refund policies, which led to widespread reports like this one.
The gist? They claimed that those stores—especially Steam—had waived policies like a 14-day maximum amount of time since purchase and, in PSN’s case, a blanket ban on refunding downloaded games. This despite the fact that users were passing around tips—for instance, citing technical issues and asking to speak to a live chat representative instead of sending an email—toget around typical refund policies.
I’ve reached out to both Sony and Amazon, but they’ve yet to reply to my inquiries.
Shahid Kamal Ahmad, a former Sony director who helped secure PlayStation’sNo Man’s Sky exclusive, went so far as to say, “If you’re getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you’re a thief.” He added, “We’re not talking about a consumer product in the factory sense. We’re talking about a work of art. You can’t just treat it like a widget.”
However, others countered that No Man’s Sky was supposedly gonna last players until the end of time—or at least for hundreds of hours. Yeah, that’s a ludicrous expectation, but the game’s marketing didn’t do much to douse it. The game didn’t live up to all of the hype, and it shipped with technical issues to boot. In some players’ minds, that’s enough to qualify it for an exception to refund rules.
Given that No Man’s Sky has sold quite well and seems well-liked by people who weren’t swallowed whole by the marketing machine, irate players might be a vocal minority. That makes it hard to gauge how widespread refunds actually are. SteamSpy, for instance, noted that while the game’s number of owners stopped growing, that might just be margin of error talking.
This whole incident is worth considering from a broader perspective, though. We now find ourselves caught in a crossfire between expectations and reality, with marketing and consumer culture sitting on the sidelines, egging them on. Questions, naturally, follow. Is it ever reasonable to ask for a refund after spending 50 goddamn hours with a game, given that many of the biggest, best games offer significantly less? When the stakes are literally All Of Time, does it even make sense to measure the value of a game in hours? Could it evermeasure up to expectations? Are marketing and grandiose promises fully to blame here, or did some people also conjure up The Ultimate Video Game in their imaginations?