If Sony wants to sell a digital-only PlayStation, their digital store needs a refund policy

I’m a console gamer. I never understood the hype around PC gaming. The only PC game I play is The Sims 4 (and I question any other way to play the game). But I envy PC gamers.

Steam’s refund policy — as stated here — allows players to return a game as long as they meet the stated criteria: it’s been less than 14 days since the purchase and the game has been played for less than 2 hours. This policy is great because it ensures that I can preorder or purchase a game and return it if I don’t like it, or the game is trash.

Sony’s PlayStation Store, on the other hand, is a different story. Sony’s refund policy — as stated here — allows a refund within 14 days of the purchase. BUT, if the player has started the download, the game doesn’t even have to be installed on the machine yet, the refund is ineligible unless the content is “faulty.”

Yes, this is a problem.

I never really knew about PlayStation’s nightmare until I purchased AO Tennis 2 and realized how poorly designed the gameplay was. I spent a whopping $60 on it, played it for 20 minutes, decided I hated it, only to find out that I can’t even return it because I downloaded it onto my PlayStation 4. Since this experience, I’ve refused to download any game I feel “iffy” about.

This year, Sony launched the PlayStation 5.

They announced two separate designs of the system: a disc-free version and a disc version. The disc-free version is $399 and the disc version is $499.

My gut instinct was to get the disc-free version because, you know, who is using discs in 2020? Then I stopped to think… what if I really hate a game? Do I just.. not get to return them? It’s weird to see a company that’s peddling a $400 console to consumers that are paying for $60 content they can’t even test out.

The problems deepen since the video game industry has already been taking advantage of consumers this way for the better half of the last decade. The industry has become increasingly sour with lackluster games, offering preorders for games they didn’t complete and selling them for upwards of $60, $70, and $80.

Now, I hadn’t given the scenario between the PlayStation Store and PlayStation 5 much thought until the new Cyberpunk 2077 game arrived this month. For those unaware about the situation, let’s recap.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that was initially introduced in January 2013 — the PlayStation 3 was the current-gen console. The game was announced to be ambitious, much more than huge games like Grand Theft Auto V or Red Dead Redemption II. Then it was released.

The graphics were awful, frame rates would drop all the time, it was filled with bugs. This is certainly not the same game we were promised eight years ago.

The problem with Sony’s refund policy is that gamers are not given the chance to try the game at all. They cannot see the game, they cannot experience it. Not getting to play the game is the equivalent of going to a car dealership and the salesman says, “I can show you a picture of the car but you cannot drive it and can’t return it after you buy it.” That’s essentially what they’re doing.

In Cyberpunk’s case, the game was met with such a negative response that the game’s developer actually responded with a statement saying that they are refunding all games on the PSN, Xbox Store, and wherever you buy/sell games (Gamestop, etc). I’m assuming the developer contacted Sony and told them they’re accepting returns because otherwise, you’re just leading them down a dead end.

If Sony wants to sell a digital-only PlayStation 5, they need a return policy. It’s not fair that consumers aren’t given any risk-free options when purchasing games. Anything is better than what they have right now.

Update: 12/17/2020: Sony has recently stated that they will accept all Cyberpunk 2077 returns. Not quite sure if this specific article led them to the announcement (ha), but they also removed the game from the PS Store.

25, lives in Lansing. I write stuff about gadgets and video games.

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