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Steam Plugs Refund Policy Loophole For Early Access Titles

In a surprise update to Steam’s refund policy, playtime in early-access titles will now count towards the two-hour playtime limit for acceptable refunds. Previously, gamers were able to play early access games and wait until they were completed to speed run them for refunds, but the move marks a significant change.

“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,” reads Steam’s updated refund policy page.

There are games that have stayed in early access for a significant amount of time, like Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3, which was an early access game for three years before finally releasing in August 2023, and Ark: Survival Evolved, which spent two years in early access. Players on Steam’s forum had mixed reactions towards the move, but agreed that the fix was a long time coming.

Steam also provided specific examples of how the policy would work, going on to say that “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. 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.”

But the usual refund rule for Steam games still applies, and as long as you return a game already on the store with a playtime under two hours and within 14 days, you’ll still get your refund. It’s speed-running time, and now, the playing field has been levelled.