As many as 12 million people are using Steam at any given point throughout the day. Many more login and logout throughout the day. Everyone’s favorite data website, SteamSpy, suggests around 37 million active users over the past two weeks. Remember, it’s not hard data. I imagine SteamSpy is underestimating by quite a bit.
Yesterday, Steam gave us another stats page to look at. This time, the PC gaming juggernaut is shining a light on the number of support requests they receive every day. Steam says they are “seeking to improve transparency around users’ experiences getting support from us. We believe that increasing transparency will both help users understand how we are doing and will help make sure we keep improving over time.”
Alright, let’s look at some numbers.
In the past 24 hours, 65,620 support requests have been submitted. Here’s a category breakdown of the support requests:
Refund Requests – 48,615
Account Security & Recovery – 12,462
Game & Steam Technical Support – 2,570
Purchase & Billing Support – 1,973
48,000+ refund requests in one day. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It does at first glance. Then, I realize just how many people use Steam every day. Plus, not every single one of these refund requests is granted. Most are, but I’m sure a few get denied for not following Steam’s refund policy.
If you just took the number of people on Steam right this second, the number of refund requests is less than 1%. Hell, it’s less than 0.5%. It’s even lower when you factor in the total number of people on in the last 24 hours.
Arkane to PC gamers: use Steam refunds to demo Prey
The lack of a Prey demo irked many PC players. After performance issues with Dishonored 2, a lot of folks wanted to give Prey a try before throwing $60 at it. Arkane Studios Co-creative Director Raphael Colantonio explained the lack of a PC demo in a chat with AusGamers.
It’s just a resource assignment thing. We couldn’t do a demo on both the console and on the PC, we had to choose. And besides, PC has Steam. Steam players can just return the game [prior to playing] 2 hours so it’s like a demo already.
Well, that’s one way to look at it. It’s hard to argue against the resource assignment angle, but a PC demo would be better than having to drop $60 in the first place to see how it runs.
But Arkane is probably betting on this stance helping their bottom line. At least, marginally. Sure, a small number will refund Prey for a slew of reasons. Performance, not liking it, that kind of stuff. But that will be offset by folks who pick up the game with a Steam refund in mind only to like it and keep it.
Still, I’m curious to see how many people actually use Steam refunds to demo a game. I’m only buying a game if it looks like something I want. I’m not just going around blindly buying games to try for two hours and then refund.
There’s no data to suggest Steam players are using refunds as a pseudo-demo system. 48,000 refund requests in a day might seem like a lot, but that’s spread across thousands of games. And it’s a tiny fraction of the active user base on the platform. It’s a handy system for consumers, but it’s no substitute for demos.
Then again, demos were replaced long ago by the likes of YouTube and Twitch.
What about you? Have you used Steam’s refund policy to try out a game? Or, were you refunding because a game didn’t work?