A Twitch streamer under fire for playing through Sonic Forces and requesting a refund from Steam after playing for more than two hours tells Polygon he doesn’t think it’s an issue, despite breaking Valve’s return policy.
WeeGeetheGod, whose real name is Cade McKown, streamed Sonic Forces on Nov. 12, a few days after the game launched. He encountered a number of previously reported bugs as he played, causing for an unpleasant playthrough. During one particular level, McKown screamed on mic for 30 seconds about a sudden crash, while other clips show McKown insulting the developers for Sonic Forces’ overall quality. A number of those clips can be seen below.
It’s the clip below, however, that people are expressing concern over. When McKown beat the game, which took just over two hours and 40 minutes, he then streamed himself asking for a refund from Steam. In the explanation for his request, he didn’t mention the game’s glitches or other problems, but instead wrote that he bought the wrong game.
“Hello, I thought that this was a different Sonic game and I meant to buy another one instead of this one,” McKown’s request read. “I realize that this is the wrong one and I would like to refund it please. Thank you.”
After the screen went dark, McKown was heard telling Sega to “give me my fucking money back.”
Steam’s refund policy states that it will refund players the cost of games bought within a 14-day period and played for less than two hours. McKown beat Sonic Forces in just under three hours. Based on Steam’s guidelines, McKown shouldn’t have been able to ask for a refund.
I purchased Sonic Forces, beat Sonic Forces, and refunded Sonic Forces all in one stream. We call that V A L U E pic.twitter.com/Ya9MQecFrf— WEEGEE THE GOD (@WEEGEETHEGOD) November 13, 2017
McKown told Polygon that Valve didn’t give him a reason for the refund, but said, “if my actions truly did violate/abuse Steam's refund policy, my request would have been denied.”
Viewers started to complain that McKown was abusing the system, but he pointed out that this wasn’t the first time that he’s returned a game live on stream. McKown requested a refund for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare at the very end of a stream from last November. McKown played the game for just two hours, meeting Steam’s requirements for a refund.
McKown said people are angry with him because they’re under the assumption that he organized the stream with the refund already in mind, which McKown told Polygon isn’t true.
“As hard as it is for some to believe, I played a video game on stream to have fun, not to nefariously milk it for Twitch donations,” McKown said. “After beating the entire game in under three hours and coming to the conclusion that it was absolutely abysmal, I requested a refund with the reason being: ‘It's not fun.’”
People completing short, narrative-based games in under two hours and refunding them afterward isn’t anything new — even if it’s ethically questionable; most stores won’t accept a DVD for return just because someone hated the movie — but it’s McKown’s gameplay session, which goes on for longer than two hours, that people are taking issue with. In a video review by videogamedunkey, for example, the YouTube personality points out that Sonic Forces can be finished in exactly three hours, exceeding the refund policy requirement. That means Valve can refuse to give customers their money back for it, should they try to refund Sonic Forces after beating the game.
“On Steam, you can only return a game that you’ve played for less than two hours,” videogamedunkey said. “Very strategically, Sonic Team made sure this game was actually three hours long, which is just a brilliant move by them.”
Other people have noted on Twitter they’ve also received refunds for playing more than two hours of Sonic Forces. Polygon has reached out to Valve for further information on Steam’s return policy, as well as the stream, and will update when we hear back.
Update: We've corrected one instance in this story where McKown was spelled McKowan.