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Valve updates Steam refund policy to cover 'Advanced Access' playtime

The company will start tracking pre-launch playtime to close a refund loophole.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

April 24, 2024

2 Min Read
A Steam Deck in action
Image via Valve

Valve has updated Steam's refund policy so that it covers titles that offer 'Advanced Access.' The tweak means any playtime amassed prior to a title's official release will now count towards the Steam refund period.

Valve's current refund policy allows people to return a title "for any reason" if the refund request is submitted within 14-days of purchase and they have no more than two hours of playtime.

Until now, however, playtime accrued during an Advanced Access period wasn't tracked by Valve. That created something of a loophole. For instance, someone could purchase a specific version of a game to secure advanced access (often included as a bonus via deluxe or special editions), dip into the title before it launched, then ask for a refund when it had officially landed on shelves.

What exactly is Advanced Access on Steam?

"Advanced Access is a feature that allows users that have pre-purchased a game to play prior to the game's official release. For example, a "deluxe" pre-purchase version may include Advanced Access," reads Valve's own definition. "Unlike Early Access, Advanced Access is not a unique model of development for a game, it's simply an opportunity to play a game before it fully releases on Steam."

As noted in Valve's updated refund FAQ, the only time the two-hour playtime limit won't apply will be during beta testing.

"When you purchase a title on Steam prior to the release date, the two-hour playtime limit for refunds will apply (except for beta testing), but the 14-day period for refunds will not start until the release date. For example, if you purchase a game that is in Early Access or Advanced Access, any playtime will count against the two-hour refund limit," explains Valve.

"If you pre-purchase a title which is not playable prior to the release date, you can request a refund at any time prior to release of that title, and the standard 14-day/two-hour refund period will apply starting on the game’s release date."

You can read the full Steam Refund explainer for more information.

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About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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