It’s Steam Summer Sale time again, and that means quite a bit of money spending, and quite a bit more circlejerking about money spending online. And, for a sale that started only several hours ago, a few companies have managed to drum up some controversy almost immediately, Rockstar being the most prominent among them.
When the sale first went live, GTAV was listed for 50% off at $30. This was evidently a pricing error, as it was almost immediately reverted back to it’s original price of $59.99. However, some fine people on various gaming forums have noticed that one can still buy GTAV on sale.
Ok, that’s a bit disingenuous. You can buy GTAV plus a cash card (which basically gives you money in online play) for the same price that you would have been able to buy GTAV on its own yesterday. The deal is more or less, “buy our game at full price, get some micro transaction with it for free”, which… doesn’t seem incredibly nefarious on its own. It’s still a bit of a letdown to those who saw the original $30 pricing error and got their hopes up, but it’s still a deal, even if it’s markedly less appetizing to people who don’t really care about micro transactions to begin with.
A far more interesting thing to to question about Rockstar’s deal would be the fact that games which have had micro transactions applied to them do not qualify under Steam’s new refund policy. You can still buy the game on its own without the free micro transactions, but then you’d be paying the same $60 price for less content, but with the ability to get a refund. However, if you do take advantage of the cash card bundle deal, you’ll get some extra in-game money, but you wont be able to refund it if you don’t like it or it doesn’t run on your rig. Essentially, in exchange for a free micro transaction worth $20, you give up your right to request a refund for the game.
Perhaps this isn’t some nefarious scheme to gouge as much money as possible from Steam shoppers, but instead a way that Rockstar hopes to protect from those evil gamers requesting money back for products that it turned out they didn’t want/need. In the wake of Steam’s new refund policy there seems to have been a wave of worry overtaking some developers, who are fearing that the new ease with which customers can get refunded for their purchases will lose them more money than they can afford. Most of the studios expressing fear over refunds so far have been small indie developers. But perhaps Rockstar’s shit bundle is a sign that AAA developers are starting to feel that fear too, and that more of them are going to start implementing ways to prevent their Steam customers to request refunds.