Horror Game Encourages You to Get Refund If You Can Beat It in 2 Hours

It's not just a funny gimmick, it's actually the developer criticizing Steam's very liberal refund policy.
A screen shot from the video game Refund Me If You Can
Image courtesy of Sungame Studio

Refund Me If You Can is a horror game with a unique challenge—a dare, really. “By playing this game I agree on my honor that I will not ask for a refund if I don’t succeed,” reads an opening text crawl. “If you don’t respect this rule than [sic] you agree that you are a coward.”

A coward!

As promised, the moment you open the game, a counter starts ticking away in the corner. The question posed: can you escape a dark, jump scare-filled maze in under two hours?

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The two-hour “limit” lines up with Steam’s extremely liberal refund policy, which will issue a refund for “any reason” so long as you have played “for less than two hours.” Even then, on a case-by-base basis, they’ll often grant a refund. This stands in wild opposition to how refunds are handled on console platforms, which require players to jump through hoops. 

That Refund Me If You Can’s dare lines up with Steam’s refund policy is not a coincidence. 

“I was working on a totally different game for a year, which was a 3D college student life simulator with a lot of text,” said the solo game developer behind Refund Me If You Can, who asked to stay anonmous for privacy reasons. “After a year, I realized that the game only lasted 45 minutes, and as I talked to other developers on Discord, a lot of them had their small games refunded, even though the player gave a good review. So I was disappointed with the policy. I was afraid my game would be refunded too much, so I decided to make this game as a message to Steam.”

Steam’s refund policy has caught the ire of some game developers since its introduction in 2015, because they are often creating experiences with shorter hour counts. It introduces scenarios where a developer who makes a game less than two hours finds themselves vulnerable to players buying a game, beating it, and falling within the refund policy. Some developers have even walked away from making video games because of this.

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“The problem is that [the refund policy] doesn’t allow small story games to be sold,” said the developer of Refund Me If You Can. “Maybe they [Valve] could propose a category for a short story game with a different refund policy. Some developers will add useless things just so the game will last two hours.”

Refund Me If You Can was made in only three months, a self-imposed deadline. The short incubation period shows; the game is awfully rough around the edges. Refund Me If You Can looks like a lot of other very dark first-person horror games on Steam that are largely destined to be enjoyed passively by people watching others jump in terror on YouTube and Twitch.

“I know it’s not perfect,” said the developer, who emphasized they support refunds broadly, “but I tried different types of game concepts, and I found the maze to be the best one, and I tried to do my best with my time and resources. I didn’t plan to make it a huge success.”

As of this writing, according to the developer, 45 people have played Refund Me If Can, and 11 have beaten it. 

“I beat the game, and I am not a coward,” reads one Steam review.

Nobody has requested a refund—yet. 

Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is patrick.klepek@vice.com, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).