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DrDerekDoctors
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« on: July 27, 2007, 06:49:48 AM »

Actually, here's a question the more sharewarey types might be able to answer. One of the complaints you often hear about on the Indiegamer forums are about people wanting refunds for games and you often see those "30 day money back guarantees" plastered on websites, but how much does having one of those actually affect sales?

I mean if you weren't to offer refunds (which I don't think is unreasonable as long as you offer a demo which is representitive of the full game), how much would that affect sales?

Certainly I don't look at refund policies when I buy a game because I research my purchases. Also I'm a terrible hoarder.

What I'm getting at is, has anyone done experiments to determine the impact a refund policy has on sales? Beceause if you don't have one it really takes care of those hateful sods who buy games and then demand a refund with no intention of deleting the game. Plus anyone who asks for a refund because they didn't get what they were expecting deserves nothing but scorn, IMHO, if you have fulfilled the above criteria in the demo.
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2007, 07:30:35 AM »

I totally agree.  I think it's a mindset thing though.  Core gamers and media junkies are used to no return policies from their local game/dvd shops.  Non gamers "I guess" are used to being able to return a mop if it fails (?).

To be honest, money back guarantee's on software are stupid, especially games.  30 days is more than enough time to beat a game.  Heck, 1-2 days is often enough.  The whole thing is a stupid shareware industry adopted attitude, because it "obviously" helps sales.

The only reason for such a policy is if the software/game doesn't work on your system, but you're getting a freaking demo!  You can try it out!  Worst case, if a customer is truly having said problems, then give them a refund, but only after tech support fails.  And as I see it, there's no reason to advertise it, that's just good customer service.
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Mike Kasprzak | Sykhronics Entertainment - Smiles (HD), PuffBOMB, towlr, Ludum Dare - Blog
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2007, 01:32:27 PM »

Weird. I've never even thought to check if a shareware download might have a money-back guarantee.

Seems like you'd have a whole mess of trouble on the technical side with the copy protection then; either you'd have to emit an XM-style "kill code" to the software or make sure future versions of the software knock out that serial.

You could probably also have an Internet activation server deny/allow each instance of the game from running, but then you run the risk of pissing off your customers, and there's all sorts of piracy/security/integrity concerns with that too.

In effect, people would still have the full game, unlocked, for at least that version, for free.

I'd like to see some numbers: How many people are actually taking advantage of these refunds? Can we assume most/all of them are going to hold onto their new free game and keep playing it?
« Last Edit: July 27, 2007, 01:34:26 PM by ravuya » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2007, 01:53:03 PM »

It's the same thing as "Service with a smile", and "Sale!  Everything must go!" all over again.  If you need that sort of BS to sell your product, you're product is obviously crap.

Yeah, it bothers me.  Smiley.  Strikes me as anti-professional.
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2007, 02:24:27 PM »

In many countries, the refund policy is mandatory anyway , you could get into trouble if you refused for example to refund someone from Europe.
Also EULAs and other self imposed terms don't protect the seller in many cases.
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2007, 02:38:24 PM »

For software that's not true at all.
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2007, 01:44:06 AM »

I would think that the whole refund fraud thing is just a case of a few bad apples.  Maybe thats just the optimist inside me.
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2007, 03:00:08 AM »

I dunno, there's a lot of people after something free on the internet. And given that they'll cost YOU fees for their transactions, I'm not sure it's worth the fuss.

I think that a fairly bulletproof approach is to make it so that you can only buy the game from within the demo, because then you KNOW the game runs on their system and there can be almost no crying wolf about it not doing so after they've purchased it.
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2007, 10:15:27 AM »

I would think that the whole refund fraud thing is just a case of a few bad apples.  Maybe thats just the optimist inside me.
Like I said, there's no way to know without numbers.

If people are buying a lot of copies of the game and not using the refund feature, that's a pretty obvious indicator that there is not going to be that much fraud going on. However, if a large amount (I'd say over 10%) of the sales are refunded, that should raise some alarm bells.
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2007, 12:00:07 PM »

I think that a fairly bulletproof approach is to make it so that you can only buy the game from within the demo, because then you KNOW the game runs on their system and there can be almost no crying wolf about it not doing so after they've purchased it.

I like that.  That's pretty clever.
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2007, 12:21:14 PM »

Yes, although it only really works for games where the amount of content in the final version only differs from the demo version by a small amount to offset the extra bandwidth costs you're incurring by letting them download the full thing at once. Unless, of course, you're really quite clever about it and have the full version purchasing option actually download the remaining content, which I suppose gives you a bit more piracy-proofing as well.
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« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2007, 12:23:24 PM »

Yeah.  I don't think I'd ever feel that compelled to integrate such an "auto updater" in to a game, but I like the idea.
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2007, 12:49:34 PM »

The money-back gaurantee was something that Steve Pavlina was pretty adamant about.  He was fairly certain that it improved his sales and he gave back very few refunds.

You don't really need to worry about fraud in this case... someone who is going to steal your game will just download the crack or serial to begin with.
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2007, 10:23:57 PM »

I think that the shareware scene today is very different to how it was back when Steve Pavlina had an interest in it.

It may be the case that refunds are even more important now, but the truth remains that some pirates will be too lazy/stupid to get a crack for your game and will go down the route of purchasing it and then demanding a refund, which means that *you* have to pay all the monetary fees involved - and that sticks in my craw.

I also think that the gaming sector which I'm likely to be selling in is a bit different to that which Steve sold in. Essentially his sector was the more casual one, I'd say, where the big players have migrated to a subscription-based model and that will have affected the expectations of the average customer.

Of course if we wanted to get some real trend data we'd need many years of stats, but when we can always pay Steve's wife to contact the dead if we need to look back really far. Wink
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2007, 05:59:06 AM »

Adding a 30-day money back guarantee was something intended to ease the fears of the non-tech savvy of the time.  I think people are a little more comfortable with the online ordering process now than they were 6 years ago so it's probably not a necessity.

At the same time a 30-day money back guarantee doesn't cost you anything extra because anyone can issue a chargeback on their credit card to get a refund in that timeframe, even if you don't explicitly offer it.  In that sense it's kind of a meaningless offer, but it looks nice.

In my opinion you don't have to offer a guarantee if you don't want to since the credit card process automatically gives one.  At the same time if someone writes to you bitching that they want their money back it's much cheaper to issue the refund than it is to have a crank sending angry e-mails to your ISP and transaction provider / PayPal and getting your accounts frozen.
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2007, 03:52:32 AM »

Steve also sold very cutsey games to the typical 30+ female casual gamer. These people are not traditionally going to rip you off (although i've seen enough posts on warez sites to know that even this demographics now think its fine to steal).
If you sell games that are more traditional PC gaming fare (I make strategy games for example), then the chances of encountering some people who will try and get an auto-refund just for the hell of it is much higher. You also get people who have installed 1000 pieces of spyware, refuse to update drivers, and then complain that your game will not run, despite the fact there was a demo they could have tried.

I don't mention a money back guarantee, I've refunded some orders, but always refuse if the customer gets abusive or refuses to even supply information as to what is not working. In my experience, very few people who threaten and shout about making a credit card chargeback actually do it. Don't forget that CC companies monitor such things, you don't want to be asking for too many of them.
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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2007, 04:26:07 AM »

A lot of 30+ women have nerdy friends who know how to download stuff for them in exchange for... things.
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« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2007, 07:40:12 AM »

7% of the population are sociopaths, psychopaths or have anti social disorders, you are going to get that figure refunding your game, that 7% is a general figure of the population, it may be even higher for your game downloads if the game has anti social, violence or themes of acquiring power, as they will be attracted to those concepts. That's why they have tests for positions of authority to filter hopefully these people out, say for example a prison warder. This 7% could be considered a parasitic sub species of the human race, they have no intention of doing what is fair in any sense, so I don't think offering 30 day refunds is a good idea.
Issue a demo, that insures that it works on their PC, so why else do they need a refund.
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« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2007, 07:57:29 AM »

 Huh?

Great logic.
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« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2007, 10:02:53 AM »

If you don't offer a guarantee it probably makes no difference whatsoever. But if someone demands a refund from you and you don't give it, you get a chargeback anyway. Moral of the tale is: offer refunds without remorse or questioning. It costs you <1% of your profits and keeps everybody happy.

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