Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky has been one of the most controversial and divisive games of the year, probably of the generation. While many gamers are still finding unique and fascinating ways to play it, others have voiced concern over what they claim to be false advertising.
Regardless of your thoughts on No Man’s Sky, there’s no doubting the ambitiousness of the project, and Hello Games must be applauded for taking on such a monumental task. However, if a game for whatever reason isn’t representative of the type of game promoted ahead of release, consumers have a right to demand a refund.
Gamers that purchased the game on Steam and the PlayStation Network have done that in droves, and initially, there seemed to be few if any issues with the process: if you didn’t like the game for whatever reason, the product of its contentious marketing campaign meant distributors would honour refunds.
Sony, however, is taking action of its own against PS4 owners who returned their digital copy of the game. And it’s strange to say the least.
A thread on NeoGAF has many users complaining about being locked out from the PlayStation Network’s web chat support system. Normally that would be seen as an error, perhaps some sort of glitch in the system that is locking out PSN users. However, they all have one thing in common: they were refunded for their digital copy of No Man’s Sky.
The original poster says that they were initially offered a “good will” refund for No Man’s Sky. Then, after purchasing a gaming PC, decided to cancel a pre-order for an upcoming PS4 game. However, the support representative said that due to them being refunded for No Man’s Sky, the pre-order refund couldn’t be honoured. A few hours later, they were banned from live chat support.
Then came a barrage of similar complaints.
“They blocked my PSN ID on their web chat service after I got a refund for No Man’s Sky,” said one user. “My account was blocked from web chat because I initiated a refund request in August 2015 and attempted to contact them again over No Man’s Sky. Least that’s the theory,” said another.
While No Man’s Sky appears to have raised concerns about the strange bans and PlayStation’s pre-order refund policy, it’s an issue that has persisted for a while.
Users have complained about being banned for asking for refunds in the past, and North American refund policies state users can be charged immediately regardless of when the game is set to be released. A quick Google search shows countless threads on forums of people complaining of being banned after demanding a refund for a product that hasn’t even been released yet.
The problem may be related to chargeback policy: as with any online merchant, if you block a transaction at the source (ie. your credit card), then the merchant sees the transaction as fraudulent, and will likely ban your account.
In this case, however, the users still have access to their PlayStation Network account, they just can’t access support. Perhaps it’s an error on PlayStation’s behalf, but it’s hard to ignore the coincidence of it all.