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This Steam Policy Is Ruining Smaller Games

There's nothing worse than paying big bucks for a game only to get 10 minutes in and realize it's not for you. That's why Steam's refund policy makes sense at first glance, since it allows gamers to get money back on any game they buy, no questions asked, as long as they haven't played for over two hours. However, in the case of Emika Games' "Summer of '58," this seemingly helpful policy led to sole developer Alexander Reshetnikov losing money from people who were able to fully complete his game for free.

"Summer of '58" is described on Steam as a "first-person psychological thriller" set in a haunted, abandoned Soviet camp. Since the average playtime for the game is 90 minutes, people played through it all and used Steam's refund policy to get all of their money back after completion.

Due to an unfair lack of earnings, Reshetnikov took to Twitter on August 26 to thank fans for their support and announce that he is "leaving game development for an indefinite time to collect [his] thoughts." He went on to explain that there were "a huge number of returns on the game, even with positive reviews, and I do not earn anything to create a new game." He also let fans know that his upcoming game "From Day To Day" isn't anticipated anytime soon "since I have no conditions to do something new, I have to do something else."

Steamrolled with Support

Despite the unfortunate circumstances and no intervention from Steam thus far, things seem to have taken a turn for the better. Reshetnikov's original tweet received over 6,000 likes. Thanks to all the support he received, he shared another Emika Games Twitter update on August 27 to further explain the issue.

As Reshetnikov elaborated, Emika Games are intentionally made "without artificially prolonged time," which he compared to short stories and TV shows. He also clarified that he's fine with people returning his game legitimately, writing, "I am not offended by those people who return the game because they did not like it or because of technical problems. But if a person went through to the end and returned the game, it can be compared to the fact that he ate all the pizza, but he did not like it, and just returned the box and his money."

While it looks like things may be on the up and up for Reshetnikov, his story highlights the problem with the Steam return policy to begin with. Given the company has made changes just this year to how people buy games to maximize their profits, it could certainly make a change to help indie creators get the money they deserve.  Fans may remember that the exact same situation Reshetnikov is facing happened with the indie title "Before Your Eyes" back in April 2021. The gaming industry is hard for indie developers, and players' manipulation of Steam's refund policy only makes things more difficult.