Steam’s refund policy has been a big hit with players since it was introduced in 2015. You can ask for a refund on any game within two weeks of purchase as long as you haven’t played it for more than two hours. This policy is so famous, there are many speedrunners who try to finish games within this two-hour window and get a refund. Until now, this policy had a loophole: Play time didn’t count for some pre-release games. This meant you could play any game in Advanced Access for as long as you liked and then refund it, so long as you didn’t accrue more than two hours of additional game time after launch.

What is Advanced Access on Steam?

Steam defines Advanced Access as the ability to play the final version of a game before release. Think of it as being able to pay extra to get into Disney World an hour before everyone else. Plenty of games include a few days or even a week of Advanced Access in their deluxe purchase bundles, and to help make this clearer, Steam has added a new label on the store page for games in Advanced Access.

Credit: Valve Corporation

Advanced Access is different from Early Access, where developers release games that are still in development and use Steam sales as a means of funding. While Early Access games were not vulnerable to this loophole, some players abused the refund policy on Advanced Access games to get dozens of hours of play in before a game’s official release, only to refund it and snag all that play time for free.

Steam has fixed the Advanced Access refund loophole

On Steam’s refunds page, the company has changed its policy to stop players from exploiting this loophole. The updated wording is as follows:


When you purchase a title on Steam prior to the release date, the two-hour playtime limit for refunds will apply (except for beta testing), but the 14-day period for refunds will not start until the release date. For example, if you purchase a game that is in Early Access or Advanced Access, any playtime will count against the two-hour refund limit. If you pre-purchase a title which is not playable prior to the release date, you can request a refund at any time prior to release of that title, and the standard 14-day/two-hour refund period will apply starting on the game’s release date.

Previously, the 14-day/two-hour clock started only after the game’s official release date. Now, you’ll have to be careful if you’re impulse buying games that look promising. At the time of writing, TopSpin 2K25 is in Advanced Access, so if you start playing it now, know that your refund clock will be ticking.