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Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds

A Steam Community announcement announces that Valve is offering refunds for those who have paid for Early Access to Earth: Year 2066, citing dishonesty in how the game was marketed. Gamasutra notes that this Reddit thread has been a campaign to inspire scrutiny of how this game is being presented. Here's Valve's explanation of what happened:

On Steam, developers make their own decisions about promotion, features, pricing and publication. However, Steam does require honesty from developers in the marketing of their games.

We have removed Earth: Year 2066 from Early Access on Steam. Customers who purchased the game will be able to get a refund on the store page until Monday May 19th.

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79. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 8, 2014, 08:49 ASeven
 
And since muxwell still had power to delete and edit forum posts, which he kept doing after his game was pulled, it appears Valve got fed up of his antics and banned his ass from the steam forums.

This has been the best popcorn-fodder in a while!
 
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78. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 20:56 Beamer
 
NewMaxx wrote on May 7, 2014, 20:52:
To ever suggest that self-policing is an ideal solution with anything is just...short-sighted. There's always regulation, the question is simply one of how much or how little is appropriate. If you read the Reddit post and see things like, post editing, a stolen image, past history of fraud, etc., it's hard to fathom how something like that got past the filters when other, legitimate and far more deserving games can't catch a break. I've written articles at Wikipedia which is largely self-policed and let me tell you, having that sort of system where money is involved is just downright negligent.

Yes, the system worked since the guy did get caught...after the community got ridiculously vocal about it (and one should not assume someone will always care that much). I also understand that it's "early access" and one can never expect anything to be really delivered. That's irrelevant. It's basic contract law again at play - the concept of good faith (which I seem to bring up on here every day), and this "developer" did not act in good faith. This is not something that should be handled ad hoc by the community, it should simply never exist as a problem in the first place.

As for my thoughts about early access...not sure I care either way on a personal level, but as a gamer I do believe I should take a stance on some issues surrounding it. What happens with it will affect game design down the road. Considering I've also worked on indie games and want to again in the near future, I definitely care as a potential developer. It's a challenging industry but again, I shouldn't have to worry about things like this, it's akin to submitting a fake resume and then getting hired with 0 background screening.

Self-policing doesn't preclude a regulation. Something needs to be in place to be policed. You seem to not understand the difference between rules and enforcement.
 
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77. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 20:52 NewMaxx
 
To ever suggest that self-policing is an ideal solution with anything is just...short-sighted. There's always regulation, the question is simply one of how much or how little is appropriate. If you read the Reddit post and see things like, post editing, a stolen image, past history of fraud, etc., it's hard to fathom how something like that got past the filters when other, legitimate and far more deserving games can't catch a break. I've written articles at Wikipedia which is largely self-policed and let me tell you, having that sort of system where money is involved is just downright negligent.

Yes, the system worked since the guy did get caught...after the community got ridiculously vocal about it (and one should not assume someone will always care that much). I also understand that it's "early access" and one can never expect anything to be really delivered. That's irrelevant. It's basic contract law again at play - the concept of good faith (which I seem to bring up on here every day), and this "developer" did not act in good faith. This is not something that should be handled ad hoc by the community, it should simply never exist as a problem in the first place.

As for my thoughts about early access...not sure I care either way on a personal level, but as a gamer I do believe I should take a stance on some issues surrounding it. What happens with it will affect game design down the road. Considering I've also worked on indie games and want to again in the near future, I definitely care as a potential developer. It's a challenging industry but again, I shouldn't have to worry about things like this, it's akin to submitting a fake resume and then getting hired with 0 background screening.
 
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76. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 17:37 Quboid
 
Overon wrote on May 7, 2014, 17:30:
Steam is still still selling Towns even though the developer has pulled the plug on development:
see here

It's not early access any more, at a guess they've slapped a "final" label on the last build and shipped that.

Jivaro, the court was hypothetical. I'm not pathetic enough to threaten legal action over a game and consider such comments to be laughable. I don't know what you think if not crowd funding.
 
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75. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 17:30 Overon
 
Steam is still still selling Towns even though the developer has pulled the plug on development:
see here
 
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74. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 17:12 Jivaro
 
Quboid wrote on May 7, 2014, 16:23:
Early Access is not crowd funding. That's how you're looking at it and that's objectively wrong.

Of course it's not, no I am not, and yes it would be if I was.

I only casually lump them together because from a very basic customer perspective they have some of the same inherit risks. Beyond that they are, as you say, very different.

If you want to take it to court should a early access game fall apart, by all means do so.

 
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73. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 16:23 Quboid
 
Early Access is not crowd funding. That's how you're looking at it and that's objectively wrong.

I would agree with much of what you say if you were talking about Indiegogo or Kickstarter but that's not what Early Access is. Steam's Early Access FAQ only talks about when the game is released and if you need funding, you can't make the promise that Valve is implying you're making. I have a receipt for Space Engineers, not Space Engineer's Early Access build and any judge in the world will make the distinction when my lawyer points out that Steam themselves are keen to make this distinction on every EA product page.

If you need to sell 10,000 Early Access copies of your game to be able to finish it, how can you promise the first 9,999 copies that you'll fulfil the contract? Even Kickstarter deals with this better and that is crowd funding.
 
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72. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 15:44 Jivaro
 
Nope, because at this point we are not only rehashing, but you are twisting what I said as if I was somehow unclear. Not only that but you appear to be taking things personally. I didn't say you were selfish, I said it sounded selfish. It has nothing to do with agreeing with me. If I felt that way it would still sound selfish.

If there is one sentence you can take from my entire post it's this: I look at this situation fundamentally different. You want a system with guarantees and low risk of failure provided by the distributor through regulation on the developer. I would agree that on paper that sounds great, but I think in practice creativity would be stifled and the indies would face the same challenges dealing with Valve that they do with any other major publisher. I like the system as is and believe it to be working as intended. I think we have both hashed over the reasons enough to be clear.

For the record, I have only done one Early Access (Grim Dawn) and 3 Kickstarters. I myself am rarely comfortable with putting down money for the overwhelming vast majority of the games I become aware of and 99% of the time take the stance of "they will get my money if they finish it". Never in a million years did I think I would be the guy defending Early Access as I find most of the games in it to be far too early in development to put my own money or time into. The thing is, I think anyone who wants to do it should be able to. As long as Valve keeps issuing refunds for the obvious scams, I think the system is fine.

This comment was edited on May 7, 2014, 15:53.
 
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71. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 15:32 Quboid
 
Jivaro, that's so much rubbish that I don't even know how to explain how flawed it is. My argument is that Early Access is bad for PC gaming and Valve should do something more than grabbing as much cash as they can as fast as they can.

Could you please redo that post and either remove the following or rewrite them so as to make sense and relate to what other people are talking about:

- It's entitled to order a product and then expect that product to be released?
- It's selfish to order a product and then expect that product to be released?
- Or it's selfish and entitled to disagree with you?
- Expecting a product to be released is to expect a fabulous release?
- The customers that lost over Towns, to be clear, should have known better and therefore screw them?
- Can you point out unfinished books or books filled with glaring errors that Amazon ignore in a manner inconsistent to my previous posts, if that was aimed at me?
- Who has demanded that there be no failure? Do you understand the difference between Early Access and Kickstarter, or at least understand that some believe there is a difference?
- What's the logic behind "it's going to happen, why fight it?" Do you take that approach with more literal policing? Murders are going to occur, why bother trying to stop them?
- How many bad apples will it take?
 
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70. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 14:47 Jivaro
 
So wait..the argument now is that hypothetically we would get better games if only the developers were saved from themselves by Valve? Wow. I guess we better start getting Amazon to screen all the books it sells as well to make sure those authors are being the best they can be. Here I thought that was for the consumer to decide, not the seller.

There appears to be a fundamental difference in the way I look at the gaming industry and the way some of you do. In fact, not just the gaming industry, capitalism in general. I expect things to fail occasionally. Not only that, I think they should be allowed to fail. I think people should buy stuff and find out they don't like it after all. I don't expect guarantees from people trying to make a living in a creative industry because when they fail they don't get to continue making a living. That is the life of a small business, that is life doing business with a small business. There will be people out to make a quick buck but as long as the system does not provide for the same people to do that over and over again so as to maintain a livable wage off of it....I find it completely acceptable. I am fine with it because when it all works out, it's amazing for everyone involved. The developers and the consumers. Brilliant gaming experiences come out of those successes.

Most of the arguments against this process sound so entitled and selfish. Like somehow the industry owes people to be fabulous with every release. These are people, some of them very young, who are gaining experience in not only game design but running their own business. This situation was a scam, but there will also be situations where the developers just fail. They hit a development wall, they lose a key member of the team to real life, or any number other reasons. Get over yourselves and stop trying to make it sound like a few bad apples should be allowed to restrict the rest of these people. No matter what Valve does there will be people who try to punk the system. No matter what Valve does there will be developers that just fail.

PS: Comparing this situation to Towns only proves my entire point. Towns is a perfect example of a developer getting in over their head. It happens to many a small business. This situation with Earth 2066 was a scam from the beginning. One dev played by the rules and lost, one dev tried to break the rules and lost. The rules (re: system) worked as intended. Beginning to end.

I understand the counter points as they have been presented by Quboid and others. I just don't see their validity nor do I agree that non-participants are somehow affected by any of this. I think Early Access, Kickstarter, and other systems that are helping to grow the indie side of the gaming industry need to stay unafraid to fail and I think the consumers providing the money need to understand that failure is an option. For those not okay with that, the answer is simple: don't do it. Developer or consumer.

This comment was edited on May 7, 2014, 15:00.
 
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69. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 14:33 Verno
 
Well said Quboid. I dislike early access and Kickstarter type stuff in general, it is too favorable to the devs and there is little accountability.  
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Playing: Alien Isolation, 7 Days to Die, Dragon Age Origins
Watching: The Canal, Brazil, The Town That Dreaded Sundown
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68. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 13:30 Quboid
 
Had Valve refused to give refunds I would understand all this rhetoric.

Towns was abandoned today. I will be very surprised if anyone gets a dime out of Valve for that. There may be ways in which Early Access could work that I'd like - 48 hour refunds would help quite a lot but whether it would be enough I do not know.

Early Access affects you even if you don't buy it. It's impossible to say, but I strongly suspect we'd have better versions of Towns and Day Z if the developers had the motivation that comes from only getting real money once you've earned it and if we'd never seen Towns at all, we'd still be better off. How many potential PC gamers have been, or will be, turned off from our platform because they didn't know what they were getting into? They're fools perhaps, it's their own fault perhaps, but if there's enough of them then every one of us is affected. I think Early Access is a bubble, an unsustainable cash grab that will burst if it's not deflated carefully.
 
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67. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 13:12 Jivaro
 
If Valve feels the need to police this, I think they will probably just shut down the Early access program. They won't do that because incidents like this are rare. So far anyway.

I have yet to see a compelling argument for changing the system. Steam is providing a unique service in a unique way. I don't want a system that handicaps the honest folks just to prevent the occasional scammer. We already see enough of that in just about every entrepreneurial industry I can think of. The folks demanding regulation by Valve are also expressing distaste for Early Access in the first place, which makes me wonder if there really is any way this system would be applied that they would be happy with. I still don't understand why "if you don't like it, don't buy it" isn't a good enough resolution to that issue.

Had Valve refused to give refunds I would understand all this rhetoric. Had Valve refused to give refunds in any situation like this I would understand. They haven't so I don't. Again, the system worked. I fail to see why any sort of change is needed from Valve's stand point. Hopefully the people who paid into this obvious scam learned their lesson and over time the Early Access system as a whole can be looked at as one where the community and the consumers will hold the developers accountable because Valve has their back. So far, Valve has upheld their end of the bargain.
 
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66. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 12:59 Beamer
 
Quboid wrote on May 7, 2014, 12:28:
Beamer wrote on May 7, 2014, 12:05:
But again, how do you define "scam" and how do you define "very early alpha?"

It's quite simple: don't. Neither is fit for sale. Neither can be honestly listed as something that will definitely be finished.

Early Access isn't Kickstarter, it's a preorder with immediate access and if you only have an early alpha then you can't guarantee that you're going to finish developing your game - unless you have sufficient alternative financing, in which case you're probably not interested in listing your game under Early Access anyway.

Early Access was supposed to be about beta testing and that's still how it reads on Steam's page. It's not for funding because it's promising a final product and you can't promise a final product if you don't have funding yet.

(If the "irate" comment was aimed at everyone who wants Steam to police more: I doubt I would get irate but regardless, wanting more policing doesn't mean I want a police state and doesn't mean I have to agree with everything said police do.)

Policing isn't needed until there's a trend. If the community can self-regulate, it's better doing so. Thus far, we've been able to.

By putting in rules, we'll protect ourselves from the bad but also miss out on some good. To date, we just don't need this. Maybe it will change, but we simply don't.

I hate Early Access, too. I think it's a bad idea on every single level. But other people disagree. They vote with their dollars. If they want it, they should be able to buy it.
 
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http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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65. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 12:28 Quboid
 
Beamer wrote on May 7, 2014, 12:05:
But again, how do you define "scam" and how do you define "very early alpha?"

It's quite simple: don't. Neither is fit for sale. Neither can be honestly listed as something that will definitely be finished.

Early Access isn't Kickstarter, it's a preorder with immediate access and if you only have an early alpha then you can't guarantee that you're going to finish developing your game - unless you have sufficient alternative financing, in which case you're probably not interested in listing your game under Early Access anyway.

Early Access was supposed to be about beta testing and that's still how it reads on Steam's page. It's not for funding because it's promising a final product and you can't promise a final product if you don't have funding yet.

(If the "irate" comment was aimed at everyone who wants Steam to police more: I doubt I would get irate but regardless, wanting more policing doesn't mean I want a police state and doesn't mean I have to agree with everything said police do.)
 
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64. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 12:05 Beamer
 
InBlack wrote on May 7, 2014, 05:19:
Wow, really wow. So all of you guys condoning this shit really want Steam to turn into digital Wallmart? Really, thats what you want? Steam to become the shittiest fucked up digital platform on the internet?

This is not rocket fucking science we are talking about. I have RL friends who have a game up on Steam's Early Access program. Starpoint Gemini II. They had to literally JUMP THROUGH HOOPS to get their game on Steam and they have an actual game on their hands that's in fucking working condition. No one at Valve even looked at their code, all they wanted was reasurrance that they had a publisher. Thats it. If Valve wants their digital store to turn into scam house galore, so be it, but if they care about their image they should hire a few guys who at least fire up each new submitted game and check if its a fucking scam or not...that's not exactly a million dollar operation.

But again, how do you define "scam" and how do you define "very early alpha?"

No offense intended here, but I feel like you'd be one of the first people that would be irate if Valve denied an Early Access on some indie because it didn't fit what one guy at Valve viewed as "good enough to sell" and the game then either got delayed or canceled.
 
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63. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 09:43 panbient
 
Killswitch wrote on May 6, 2014, 21:40:
And for anyone saying the victims get what they deserve... You're the epitome of society. This is exactly why there needs to be safeguards in place; because there's people like you in the world that have no empathy or remorse.

So because we take the side of 'buyer beware' in an open market we're the scourge of society? There should be safeguards in place to protect individuals from their own choices?

When governments propose invasive 'security' measures to circumvent your privacy -for your safety- do you sit there and celebrate? Do you like the idea of a thought police protecting you from your arbitrarily defined 'bad' decisions?

Watching the video linked of the game it shouldn't take a single Valve employee to warn customers of a crappy product. If you couldn't tell it was crap on your own then you have bigger issues than $20 impulse purchases. Namely the invaluable lesson of doing your own critical research before spending your own money, rather than expecting society to do it for you.

No one forced anyone to make the purchase, nor were their options limited, nor does this game sound unique. If anything individuals had to search out the opportunity to spend on this title. Is it truly a scam or just a wannabe game developer who promised far more than they could ever realistically deliver (why does this sound so familiar)?

I understand people are upset by the situation, but is it because they were scammed or because they're embarrassed by the incredibly poor decision they made? Regardless, I'd still rather have the choice be mine entirely rather than being limited to whatever corporate options are made available.
 
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62. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 09:04 Quboid
 
NKD wrote on May 6, 2014, 23:27:
People say there is a problem, but the evidence doesn't show it. We have only a couple cases. You say that if one person can do it, so can anyone else, but they aren't. This is a rare situation, and the scenario played out exactly like it should. Products that were not as advertised were found out, pulled, and the victims compensated in a timely manner. And they probably learned a good lesson about smarter purchasing decisions to boot.

Let's talk about reality here and not hypotheticals.

My issue is that Valve are not doing enough. Evidence of Valve not doing very much is not at all reassuring.

What about all the other fraudulent products on sale? Like what, you ask? I don't know. No one knows. No would could know, except for Valve if they wanted to. We hear about it and Valve act when they're discovered but how many don't go viral and therefore don't catch Valve's attention?

Aside from fraud, are games like Day One: Garry's Incident, Guise Of The Wolf, Air Control or Desert Gunner or any of the other games on TotalBiscuit's Steam Sells series fit for sale? These aren't subjectively bad, they're objectively broken or incomplete. It's subjective just how broken a game needs to be to be considered unsellable - all games are a bit broken - but I'm confident that those and I'd guess hundreds more simply aren't fit for purpose.

Laws differ around the world but in the UK, the seller has to sell something that's fit for purpose and that's Valve, not the developers. This gets murky with regards to software and even murkier with regards to Early Access stuff but if the law is updated in the same spirit as the original 1979 Sale of Goods act, Valve will have to start offering proper refunds to UK customers.
 
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61. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 07:39 nin
 
ASeven wrote on May 7, 2014, 05:28:
And now it appears muxwell is spamming other steam game forums.

Excellent! I hope they smack the living shit out of him...

 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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60. Re: Valve Offering Earth: Year 2066 Refunds May 7, 2014, 05:28 ASeven
 
And now it appears muxwell is spamming other steam game forums.  
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