Since its announcement back in 2012, one of the most highly anticipated games finally hit the shelves on 10 December 2020. Priced at US$60, Cyberpunk 2077 recorded 8 million in pre-orders, which arrives at an estimated US$500 million in revenue. Whilst 59% of the purchases were for PC, 41% opted to enjoy the game on their consoles. Digital downloads made up 74% of the sales whereas only 26% purchased a physical copy of the game.
Alas, Cyberpunk’s Developer, CD Projekt Red (“CDPR”) hit the headlines when players found out that the game was not running as well as expected on the PlayStation 4 (“PS4”) and Xbox One. Many experienced low-quality graphics and performance issues such as bugs, glitches, lags, even odd-behaving NPCs (non-player characters) and weapons were hanging mid-air.
To address the issue, CDPR released the following statements on the game’s official Twitter account:
With the promise of a refund, the policies surrounding digital returns come into question.
It is essential to first understand the various contractual relationships that exist in this transaction.
Contractual Relationship #1 : Between CDPR and the various distributors
Contractual Relationship #2 : Between a distributor and the respective gamers (customers)
Contractual Relationship #3 : Between each gamer and CDPR
When an unhappy gamer (customer) wants to return the game, they find that different distributors have different refund policies.
This is because each refund policy is determined by the respective agreements under Contractual Relationship #2.
Main Boundaries in Digital Returns
In general, we note that there are two main boundaries in determining digital returns – time and usage.
Below are some examples of these boundaries being used individually or cumulatively by various distributors:
Even though CDPR mentioned in its official statement that if gamers are not pleased with the game on their consoles and don’t want to wait for updates, gamers can opt to refund the copies purchased digitally using the refund system of PlayStation Network (PSN) or Xbox respectively.
Sony initially refused to refund gamers once the game had been downloaded or streamed but subsequently, agreed to give a full refund – here we see Sony adopting the “usage” boundary.
On a side note, Sony has since delisted Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation Store, a rare occurrence for a game of this magnitude.
On the other hand, Microsoft adopted the “time” boundary – gamers who are experiencing performance issues with the older generation Xbox One can submit a request refund to Xbox’s support website : within 14 days of purchase. However, submitting a request does not guarantee a refund.
According to Steam’s official policy, a refund may be issued if the request was made within 14 days of purchase and has been played for less than 2 hours. Even if a request falls outside of these time and usage boundaries, Steam will still look at your request. However, the approval for a refund is at Steam’s sole discretion.
Amazon offers a full refund for video games within 30 days of purchase. If the game has been opened or played, a restocking fee of up to 100% may be incurred.
License User Agreement
Contractual Relationship #3 is often overlooked but there are several pertinent provisions that gamers ought to be aware of in the End User License Agreement between each gamer and CDPR.
Note: CDPR has even prepared short summaries for each clause of the End User License Agreement to ensure that a real cyberpunk will understand its contents.
One of the disclaimers that CDPR has made is that it does not promise that Cyberpunk 2077 will be error-free but pledges to correct any defects.
Suppose an unhappy gamer wishes to consider initiating legal proceedings against CDPR. In that case, their legal avenue lies in the Courts of Poland and the laws of Poland shall govern the dispute.
Upon agreeing to the End User Licence Agreement’s terms and conditions, a gamer also accepts that he cannot file a suit against CDPR with his/her “band of brothers” as the End User Licence Agreement contains an exclusion of any class action suits.
Nevertheless, CDPR encourages gamers who have concerns or issues to reach out to its support services. The Agreement further provides that parties agree to make reasonable and good faith efforts to resolve the dispute informally within 30 days before resorting to further legal action.
Should I request a refund?
Ultimately, this question can only be answered by you (the gamer). If you are truly unhappy with the game’s current state, the option to refund remains available (subject to the relevant distributor’s refund policy).
If you feel the game is worth the wait, CDPR has expressed its commitment to fixing the situation and plans to release two large patches in January and February 2021, albeit there is no guarantee that the fix will be to the satisfaction of gamers.
Nevertheless, with its mind-blowing graphics along and stunning open-world adventure gameplay to explore, this RPG is already set to be a record of its own.
In a period where PUBG and Mobile Legends appear to be dominating the arena, Cyberpunk 2077 may prove that single-player games are still alive, more than ever.
P.S. Our Partner, Lesley Lim, was invited by BFM Radio to share some views about this topic. Her podcast can be heard at this link (from 10:50 onwards) – https://www.bfm.my/podcast/night-shift/ggwp/ep03-refund-policies-for-digital-games.
By Lesley Lim
Note: This article does not constitute legal advice to any specific case. The facts and circumstances of each and every case will differ and therefore will require specific legal advice. Feel free to contact us for complimentary legal consultation.