UPDATE 20/8/20: Following complaints from users worried about Microsoft Flight Simulator's lengthy post-install download times cutting into Steam's two-hour refund window, Valve has offered assurances that only actual play time will be counted.
Those that purchased Flight Simulator earlier this week soon discovered, after launching the game for the first time, that its initial download only contained an installer.
That meant the clock started ticking on the two-hour window of play time all Steam refunds must be claimed within, despite there still being another 90GB+ download to complete before players were able to get into the game proper - not an ideal situation for anyone without a lightning-fast internet connection.
Speaking to PC Gamer, however, Valve's VP of marketing Doug Lombardi has now assured Flight Simulator customers on Steam that the game's atypical installation process won't impact their right to a refund. "The time it takes your machine to download the additional content," Lombardi said in a statement, "will not be counted against the Steam Refund Policy".
ORIGINAL STORY 18/8/20: Microsoft Flight Simulator owners have called for the game's two-hour Steam refund window to be extended or dropped entirely, after spending all of it waiting for the lengthy in-game installation to complete.
The problem here is that the bulk of Microsoft Flight Simulator's 150GB download is done through its in-game launcher. After an initial download, this client handles the majority of the game - and takes some time.
As soon as this launcher begins downloading, Steam's metric for tracking how long you've played begins counting.
"I just downloaded Microsoft Flight Simulator on an uncapped 500MB connection and it took three hours," Eurogamer reader Ollie told me. "I was surprised to discover when I closed the download window that Steam had logged that as three hours playtime. I guess the download does happen in-game client so I can see how this happened."
Garry's mod creator Gary Newman was one of those who took to Twitter to suggest Steam extend the refund timer for the game:
5 hours played, 28 gigs left pic.twitter.com/AzoDbTgjGL— Mightyy (@WorstSombra) August 18, 2020
I'm not seeing the suggestion people want to refund the game based on its sizeable download (its overall download footprint is stated upfront). It's more that if people did want to refund the game after actually playing it, they are no longer able to.
Numerous Steam reviews now mention this fact in their feedback. The game currently has a "Mixed" user rating overall.
It's a shame - as the game itself is excellent, according to Eurogamer's Martin Robinson.
"Over the past month or so, Microsoft Flight Simulator has sent me on a spiral of discovery, exploring the world as well as the often mundane, frequently magical detail of air travel, my appreciation of what Microsoft and Asobo have achieved growing all the while," he wrote in Eurogamer's Microsoft Flight Simulator review. "When it all comes together, this thing can be as uplifting as flight itself."