The Rights And Wrongs Of Refunding No Man’s Sky

Digital rights, ownership and refunds are hardly new topics of discussion, but No Man’s Sky has brought the discussion back to the front pages. While it’s bound to only be a small minority of those that bought the game, people have been successfully getting refunds, despite having sunk many, many hours of play time into virtual universe.

Off the back of these refunds, you have to ask yourself when is it right and fair to ask for your money back? It’s clear that there are a lot of people who bought No Man’s Sky and were dissatisfied with their purchase for one reason or another, but after you’ve played the game for 50 hours, surely it’s then taking things too far to get a refund?

The real problem is that there’s no universal system for us, as consumers, to get refunds on digital purchases. After years and years of dragging their feet, there are now refund policies in place for a number of the biggest digital markets. Apple, Google and Steam all introduced ways to request refunds last year, with varying limitations on what and why you can ask to refund and their own windows of opportunity to do so.

Steam’s is pleasingly lenient, with no questions asked if you’ve played less than 2 hours and it’s within 14 days of purchase, but some are taking it far beyond this, submitting requests for refunds after playing for much, much longer and citing technical problems that don’t seem to have affected them.

Sony’s policy is less lenient, and they’ve been criticised in the past for their handling of such requests. No Man’s Sky seems to be an exception, and there are numerous reports of people phoning up or using their customer support text chat and getting refunds, often stated as a one time gesture of good will.

By EU law, you have a 14 day cooling off period for online, phone and mail order purchases for any reason, but there’s no such provision for face to face purchases, which are always at the store’s discretion. The UK’s Consumer Rights Act 2015 takes this a step further to 30 days if goods are not of satisfactory quality, aren’t fit for purpose or don’t match the description. These rules are all well and good and easy to understand if you order a nice new shirt over the internet from Top Shop, but there are exceptions to the rule. CDs, DVDs and games aren’t covered as soon as you break the cellophane seal, and for digital products, the second you click to download is the moment that you waive your right to cancel.

Of course, if the download doesn’t work, if the game simply crashes, if the audio files are corrupted, you can go back to the seller. They can try to fix the issues before you’re allowed to ask for compensation, but these are all focused on ensuring that you get a product and that it works, not that it’s any good.

Take heading to the cinema as an example. If you settled in to watch Batman vs Superman and found that the sound didn’t work or the projector was only showing the film in black and white you’d be frustrated. More importantly, you’d be entitled to a refund. However, if you watched all three hours of the film and decided it hadn’t been for you, would you deserve your money back? I’d argue not, and the same principle applies to No Man’s Sky. Those who have had the game crash repeatedly or suffered from serious frame rate issues on PC do deserve their money back, even as Hello Games push out patch after patch. However, if you’ve played a good chunk of the game and found it not to be your cup of tea, then that’s no fault of Hello Games, and you probably shouldn’t be able to get a refund.

One bone of contention is whether or not No Man’s Sky is “as described by the seller”. Does it match up to the grandeur promised during the three years of hype that led to its release earlier this month? Probably not, but that’s not what needs to be called into question. At the point of sale, you’re getting what’s described on the box or in the blurb on the digital store – this is admittedly muddied by the Steam page having old trailers, an old user interface and some features that were cut during development.

On the subject of the missing multiplayer, regardless of what Sean Murray said or alluded to, regardless of what is hidden beneath the sticker on the back of the box, it now says it’s a single player game. Similarly, there’s no promise of a particular amount of game time, no promise of a deep and involving story, no promise of landing on your hundredth planet being an interesting experience.

So, when people are asking for and getting refunds from Steam and PlayStation with dozens of hours of play time, I personally think that’s taking things much too far. Unless you genuinely suffer from chronic game crashes and cripplingly low frame rates, you’re exploiting a system that wasn’t set up with this in mind. I get that you might be disappointed, but that’s not right. Analogies to this particular situation are invariably a little clumsy, but it’s like buying clothes to wear to a party and then returning them the next day because you’ve “changed your mind”.

You do have to wonder if this would even be a problem is digital games had some kind of parallel to being able to trade in your physical game discs, but that’s a discussion for another time.

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65 Comments

  1. People need to stop being dicks.

    • Do you want to shut down the internet, or shall I do it? Because that’s the only way that’ll happen.

      Ok, it won’t stop people being dicks, but it’ll stop them doing it in front of millions of people.

  2. The industry should take it on board and in future be more careful about overpromising and under delivering. Says a lot that even Sony are giving refunds. Like getting blood out of a stone when I had some issues on ps3.

    • Or maybe people need to be a bit more careful about what they’re expecting? NMS is pretty much exactly the game we were promised. Some details may have changed over the years it was being developed, and some features might not have made it, but it’s what was promised.

      Of course, some people might not like it. It’s definitely not a game for everyone. The same as all those Wa*king Simulators. You could just ignore them, or you could be like everyone’s favourite internet hate group and go “It’s terrible, it shouldn’t be allowed, anyone who likes it is wrong, the developers are liars, here’s a list of things I couldn’t find and so are obviously not there, and I’ve played 50 hours now, so can I have my money back so I can spend the money on something that lets me fap to VR tits?”

      Which is a lot longer way of saying what TC said in 6 words. People need to stop being dicks.

      • There was minimal talk about it basically being a crafting/survival game, and Murray clearly said in several interviews it was a multiplayer game. That’s not people’s expectations getting out of hand, it’s deceptive advertising.

      • To be fair, Hello Games were woefully underequipped to handle the sheer amount of media attention and it seems Sean Murray just wasn’t even anywhere ready to handle it. Still, it was lies, deception and probably the biggest disappointment since WatchDogs or so i’ve heard.

      • There was plenty of talk about crafting/survival. There was a series of videos they released before the game was released that covered both those things.

        As for the multiplayer, nobody was expecting to find other players were they? With that many planets? The fact that somebody allegedly did still doesn’t mean much. Has anyone done it since, now the servers are working? (I’m aware of other claims about how it doesn’t or even can’t have any sort of multiplayer. But they’re not in any way convincing evidence.)

        There was nothing deceptive about the advertising. We got what we were expecting. It’s even better than I was expecting it to be, really.

      • “said in several interviews it was a multiplayer game.” Yes he did. But that changed, as clearly stated by what was on the box – no multiplayer.

        So who is at fault, Hello Games or people who can’t be bothered to read?

        Its the latter. That wasn’t really a question. The design and definition of games changes all the time – look at the differences between The Division’s first videos and the final product.

      • @TC but the removal of multiplayer was never mentioned before release, slapping a sticker over the box is hardly a fair way to inform people it’s been removed. Sean Murray lied multiple times, plain and simple.

      • What exactly has he lied about?

        There’s the “multiplayer” bit which (a) was never really claimed to exist in the first place (due to it being an amazingly unlikely event to meet another person) and (b) we still don’t know if it’s there or not. All we’ve heard of is 2 people that managed to be in the same place while the servers weren’t working too well. Anyone else managed to recreate this “lie” yet?

        There was a whole list of “lies” someone posted somewhere that were a mix of things that were never claimed to be there and things you’d find if you played long enough. Which disappeared fairly quickly for whatever reason.

        And the main proof it’s all lies seems to be he’s disappeared from Twitter. Which, really, is what anyone would do if you’d spent years working on something you can be proud of, just had the stress of launching it (and the inevitable problems) and then find some people just want to shit all over it based on their inability to read, or because that’s what you do if something isn’t your sort of thing, or just because they’re dicks.

      • “NMS is pretty much exactly the game we were promised”. This quote has a high chance of being 100% accurate, though there is only a 30% chance of that.

    • The only lying i’ve seen is since the game came out, people desperately trying to stitch together bits of off-hand interview comments from when the game was still a work in progress, in order to try and convince others that they were right to have expectations above and beyond what was clarified.
      The full details of what you could do in the game were published on Hello Games website a few days before the game launched..

      http://www.no-mans-sky.com/2016/08/what-do-you-do-in-no-mans-sky/

  3. I got my money back from Amazon. The game was literally poor, the bugs I encountered made me wipe my whole ps & was so annoyed. So basically I have to restart every game in my library thanks to NMS

    • There were some bugs that meant the game crashed quite regularly, but they’ve been fixed. Not had a single crash for over a week now. But I’ve not heard of any that mean you need to wipe your whole PS4.

      And isn’t that why it lets you backup your saved games to USB or the cloud? Who wouldn’t backup all their saved games regularly?

      • Unfortunately me, I didn’t realise my games wasn’t saving to the cloud till the weekend so I was gutted & in tears

      • No they’ve not,mine is still crashing as are other people’s just check on social media.

    • Ouch, really sucks losing your game saves, happened me on PS3 twice but on both those occasions it was a problem with the hard drive. I began backing up regularly after that… then stopped doing it again when nothing went wrong for a while.. so i should probably go check that my gamesaves are being uploaded too..

    • Let me get this right. You were so annoyed you wiped your whole PlayStation? That’s not No Man’s Sky’s fault. That’s your fault and you should really work on that anger. Wow! :-\

      • Lol no what I meant is that, the playstation froze to a point where, I couldn’t do anything, even when I turned it off the plug, it did not switch off. This tend to happen only when play NMS but this time it automatically rebuild my whole PS4, wiping out everything. Took 24 hours to download 45 games all back on the system

      • Hang on, what?! You couldn’t switch it off, even by removing the power? I’m not saying you’re lying about the data loss, I’ve been there, I just can’t get my head around an electricity powered device being able to stay powered up after removing the power source :-D

      • Oh my god, it’s the DEMONSTATION! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! RUUUUN! RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!

        Sorry, just had to be that immature and make that joke.

        Yes, i’ll be in the corner of shame.

      • No Man Sky did not bork your PS4.

      • The power of christ compels you! The power or christ compels you!

      • Capacitors hold a charge so it’s definitely possible for an electrical device to give the illusion of remaining fully powered. However, JTN appears to have one of those fancy possessed PS4s. *makes offer*

  4. I agree with that people should be entitled to refunds if they don’t like the game but not after 50 hours. To me, that sounds like pushing it because well, it usually takes a few hours for people to decide if a game is good or not. NMS seems to be a game that would live or die within the first few hours and therefor, people can make a decision. After 50 hours? No.

    No Man’s Sky has engaged in a lot of lies and could techincally fall foul of false advertising. E.g. Giant space battles not existing, different enviroments etc.. Is it broken? Hard to say as it is an online only game(Which, i fecking despise as it means it will disappear in 5 years time) and could be the server size. Another game that had the same issue is Metal Gear Solid V. We were promised it would be the hidden link in the franchise and what a load of bullcrap that turned out to be. Do we demand refunds because of it? No. Because it meant playing the entire game. NMS kinda falls into the same trap. Do you push on ahead if you find the first few hours not to your liking? Or do you write it off and get a refund?

    However, this does not mean people can be grade A arseholes about it and attack anyone who dares to not like it. People have opinions. Opinions are respected. Jim Sterling got DDOSed because of his 5/10 review. Was he wrong? That is up to everyone to decide. Was he right? That is up to everyone to decide. Does he deserve to be abused, insulted and inconvienced for a few minutes because he is ad free and doesn’t use adverts? No.

    Basically, what Tuffcub said. Don’t be a dick.

    • Jim Sterling didn’t review the game though. His “review” appeared on the day the game was released. It’s quite clear he hasn’t done his job properly and played it for any length of time in a rush to get his review out first.

      Most of the attacks I’ve seen have been from people who don’t like it, for whatever reason (which is fine) trying to come up with ridiculous reasons why anyone who does like it is wrong. Apparently we’re desperate to come up with reasons to justify wasting our money on a game which is crap.

      • He did review it. He often gets review code and he never rushes out stuff unlike IGN. He doesn’t care about being first or last, just about quality and it is either him or a member of his very small team that reviews stuff. Just because a review is out on the same day, it doesn’t mean it’s rushed. Review Copies are often sent out in advance to ensure everyone can give it enough time.

      • Actually no, the review copies for NMS were delivered a day before release. He rushed it.

        Also he’s a talentless so-and-so who needs a slap. But that’s just a rushed review of him :)

      • Maybe he played it non-stop for 24 hours before writing his “review”? That would be enough time to do a halfway decent job of reviewing it.

        It would, of course, be the insane ravings of a sleep-deprived madman though. Which would be more entertaining. Sadly that doesn’t appear to be the case.

    • Lol at Tuffcub, comment of the year right there :)
      On topic, I have loved every minute I’ve played so far… 30-40hrs I guess.
      Would buy It again tomorrow, I’d pay more even!

  5. I’ve been lucky enough not to have experienced any game breaking bugs, but I can sympathise with anyone unable to play their game because of one, refund approved! However, if you think a game is boring that’s not a good enough reason to get a refund, simply because there are those of us who don’t.
    I consumed as much of the promotional material for No Man’s Sky as I could and after many hours of mostly hopping between desert planets I did feel a bit disappointed with the thin story and repetitive visuals. However, after reading MrYd and TSBonyman’s forum ramblings I realised I needed to play differently to get the most from the game and discover that time and effort and the top level warp drive are what you need to really see the scope and beauty that’s on offer! Maybe we’ll never see the set pieces from the trailers, that’s a shame but I don’t think it means Hello Games overpromised. At the end of the day there’s absolutely £50 worth of game on offer if you’re willing to work for it.

    • I don’t want to see the set pieces from the trailers. I don’t really want to see what anyone else has seen. There’s something about landing on a planet, seeing things nobody else has seen or ever will, and then heading off to the next planet leaving behind things that only 1 person will ever find for some brief time.

      • Yeah I know what you mean, that discovery is massively satisfying especially if you cross paths discover something that someone else has seen then realise someone will do that with your findings too.
        I would’ve loved a few set pieces though, woven into the procedural nature as part of the lore, much like the Atlas Stations appear at points appropriate to your journey but instead giant buildings, lost cities, crashed capital ships, migrating fleets or massive plot related space battles. It’s a want but the game doesn’t need it :)

      • Set pieces could have been optional or down to a path in terms of story but it did help bring it to the attention of everyone due to how rare space combat sims on consoles are nowadays. I didn’t even know what it truly was until reviews. Thought it was a space combat open world sim not a space survival one. I disagree that the MP should not have been a thing due to the online aspect of it and it would have been interesting to meet people and potentially hav standoffs over resources.

        That said, whilst it may seem like i’m determined to hate the game, i am not. Just the reputation of it being a mixed bag is hard to avoid atm and I could see myself using it as an “After work in the weekday” game due to short sessions. :)

      • Short sessions? Yes, that’s bound to happen. A quick look around a planet for 10 minutes? That’s fine, for certain values of “10 minutes”. The larger values around an hour or 6 ;)

      • 2 hour sessions. Chances are, i would want to do short sessions in some evenings when I resolve my whole “Get a job” game. Seriously, the asshat that invented this game deserves to be slapped with trout! :P

  6. I’ve tried literally EVERYTHING I can think of to get the game to start on my PS4. I’ve pressed triangle, cross, square, circle, L1, R1, both triggers at the same time. I’ve tried the touch pad in 20 different places. Even (With the help of my wife) all the buttons on the controller at the same time, but to no avail.

    Probably help if I buy the game first.

    • You could always buy the game, play it for 50+ hours and then be a dick about it? ;)

  7. Nice to see a sensible article on the topic and good points made. As someone who has already played for 80 blissful hours , i find the whole lies/refund controversy ridiculous and distasteful.

  8. Watched Angry Joe review this and it seemed to echo the interwebs opinions on this game. If what I have heard, read and watched is accurate then this should not be a full price game and many have indeed been mislead. Fifty or more hours in to it though and I think you have waived your right to a refund 48 hours ago. However, I do think refunds are a good idea as it will hopefully put an end to misleading consumers and rushing games out.
    That all being said – I watched Suicide Squad today and that had a panning from critics and reader reviews – yet I really enjoyed it.
    These situations can be avoided if we return to the days of a game releasing a demo first. Not a beta or preview – but a portion of the full retail game free to try! Hand in hand with the ability to hide/delete a demo from my PS4 library ready to download section of course

    • For the amount of game you get, it absolutely should be a full price game. It’s quite funny seeing people whinge about it shouldn’t be a full price game while demanding a refund after playing it for 50 hours.

      And it wasn’t rushed, was it? It seemed to be in development for years, and got delayed close to release. Some bugs causing it to crash at random managed to sneak through, but they’ve been dealt with now, and didn’t seem to affect everyone anyway.

      As for refunds, I think they’re all being far too generous. Sony might allow you up to 1 refund, if you haven’t started playing a game. Legally, there might be a case for getting a refund (assuming you haven’t started it) any time. If you bought a game on disc from Amazon or anywhere, that’d be the case. Steam’s 2 hour rule might make them look good, but it’s open to abuse, and is probably further than they need to go, legally.

      Obviously if a game is broken, then a refund shouldn’t be an issue (or a fix for it). Doesn’t apply for NMS though. And neither does any claim of it being misleading.

      • It wasn’t rushed. They had the game complete on day one. No patches or anything. Murray will be moving onto the next project as NMS had everything he envisioned…

        Oh wait.

    • Perhaps the one thing OUYA got right; every game must have a demo or trial period.

      And, as a response to MrYd: the PC version was most certainly rushed. Unsupported CPUs, settings that didn’t work (anti aliasing and resolution), a metric shit-ton of stuttering and crashes after a couple hours due to a shader cache issue… And for some the game wouldn’t even launch.

      Hello Games handled it reasonably well and put out experimental patches on Steam, and it’s working well for most people now with these issues sorted. But it never should have released in that state to begin with.

      • That’s not rushing, that’s inadequate QA, which they’ve since worked very hard to address.

      • For the end user, it has the same effect: A (very) bad port.

        Any game that hasn’t seen decent quality assurance is rushed, in my opinion. It’s like proofreading a book before release, it’s to be expected.

        This wasn’t an early access title, but perhaps it should have been.

      • There’s a slight difference between proof-reading a book and testing a game (or any other software).

        The text of a book is a fixed thing that doesn’t change depending on who reads it, where they’re reading it, what weird order they decide to read the pages in, or what they previously read.

        You just read it from beginning to end and fix the spelling mistakes.

        Try that with a bit of software. It’s like a book where if you don’t read chapter 2, all the characters are named Bob, but if you do read chapter 2, they get real names. Unless you read chapter 7 first, in which case the main character spends chapters 4 to 6 stuck in a cupboard and mysteriously doesn’t have a name now. And if you’ve read a book by a different author previously, the book bursts into flame when you read page 17. If it’s a Tuesday.

        Even a very short book with 60 pages would have more possible ways to read every page than there are atoms in the entire universe (yes, it’s that big a number).

        A bit of software, even one as small as NMS (6GB or so, with most of that being the audio?) is even more complicated than that.

        But with a book, you can assume people read it in 1 order. You don’t need to try all those other weird things people could do. Pretty safe bet most people read it in the correct order, and that it doesn’t matter otherwise.

        With a game? You can’t assume too much. You’ve got to guess how things will play out with a real user. And the buggers will only go and do something creative you’d never even considered. No matter how much testing you do.

        Add in a huge number of possibilities for hardware/software on a PC, and it’s a wonder anyone ever bothers to port anything a PC at all.

  9. Been thinking about buying this game for the last few days.
    Not so sure now.

    • I’d say if you enjoyed mucking about and building in Minecraft and if you appreciated the story of No Man’s Sky’s development then you’ve got a good chance of loving it. The game doesn’t hand satisfaction to you though, you’ve got to put some hours in :)

  10. I traded my copy in.

    GameStop only gave me €45 credit 6 days after buying it new for €75 cash. Ouch.

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