[Community] Wild West Online, Everquest Next, and Guaranteed Refunds

I refuse to advocate or advertise Wild West Online’s preorder scheme, but I am going to tell you why I don’t trust buying into it and how it all comes back to Everquest Next, zombies, and Sergey Titov.

As one of the most incompetent and shady developers in this industry, MMO Fallout takes great caution when covering any game that even smells lightly of Titov’s touch. The rumors that he was involved in Wild West Online’s development, in fact just the idea that the game is using the engine that his company made, is enough to warrant intense scrutiny. If you’ve been following the game’s impending alpha launch, then you’re probably aware of the next “too good to be true” marketing trap: The guaranteed refund.

Let’s look at Wild West Online’s guaranteed refund policy, shall we?

So, up until the second phase of Alpha testing, we’ll let you refund your early bird purchase with no questions asked. This gives you a chance to play the Alpha yourself, and opt-out if you think the game won’t develop into the game you wanted. There are no restrictions on amount of time you have played, and there are no limits on how long you owned the game — so long as you decide before September 27, 2017 you will be granted a full refund.

Sounds great, right? No questions asked refunds for the first alpha wave, what could possibly go wrong? Well, let’s go back to Titov’s The War Z, which also had a no questions refund policy going into its alpha. The thing about getting rid of that policy so early in development is that developers tend to promise features that are coming if players just hold on a little longer, until after the refund window has passed. War Z waited until beta and launch day to implement some of its more egregious cash shop items, including the four hour respawn timer, making unpopular changes and refusing to implement features that it promised would be available for launch if players just held off on hitting that refund button.

Even more, let’s take a look at Daybreak Game Company and Everquest Next: Landmark, a game sold entirely on the premise that if you wanted a refund during alpha, you could have it with no questions asked. Of course, it wasn’t until after the refund window passed that Daybreak would announce the cancellation of Everquest Next, Landmark’s sole reason for existing, and basically doom the game to an early death while simultaneously telling players “hey, we offered you a refund window and you didn’t accept it. Tough luck.”

Steam has a refund window of two hours of gameplay, fourteen days after purchase, with exceptions in the case of developer malfeasance. Rather than buy into, and vicariously promote, players supporting a system that will present them with a completely unfinished game, one that has historically used a disguise of customer friendliness to hide a system that can be easily abused and then defended under the premise that the customer should have known that the product was incomplete, I’m going to go with this website’s running policy: Don’t preorder on a system that looks too good to be true.

And to wrap up, I don’t trust a refund system by Xsolla as far as I can throw the company (and if you haven’t figured out, I can’t throw things far). Once again, let’s go back to a name that finds itself on some of the industry’s sleaziest con jobs, and talk about the War Z’s guaranteed refunds. Back in 2012, War Z had a guaranteed refund policy which Xsolla promptly rendered moot by denying refunds. They pulled every excuse out of the book, from losing orders, not being able to find accounts, transitioning companies, and even quoting the terms of service saying that all sales are final.

The one that Hammerpoint copied from League of Legends.

So with Sergey Titov’s engine and Xsolla “all sales are final” handling the refunds, I’m going to do all I can and simply recommend that players don’t get caught up in the “guaranteed refunds” system like it is a safety net. It isn’t, and until you have the much more reliable safety of Valve overseeing the transaction, I recommend sitting it out on Wild West Online.

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  • TJ

    I don’t usually see so much personal ire in your posts as you typically try to steer towards the straight journalism, but it’s good to see you fired up about something. Just about everyone I play games with has working knowledge of the War Z fiasco, and if people don’t put the pieces together there, then hopefully with any sort of scrutiny at Wild West Online will turn them off. The game looks like rubbish. I still think you should consider Patreon as a source of revenue. You probably aren’t pushing huge numbers of subscribers, but the ones who read your stuff do so because you are good at what you do here, and your news is matter of fact, which I personally enjoy. Not that there is anything wrong with the aforementioned ire.