The PlayStation Store has a new refund policy, and while it's better than the last refund policy (read: no refund policy), it's quite limiting. Customers can now get refunds for digital purchases, including pre-orders, but only on the condition that the digital content was not played, streamed, or even downloaded.
The new refund policy took hold yesterday and gives customers 14 days from the game's purchase date to get a refund. But again, that's only if the download wasn't touched. This is for games that have released, and all DLC. Pre-orders can be refunded at any point leading up to the game's release date, and then can be refunded anytime afterwards within 14 days. But the main stipulation is that these purchases can't be played or downloaded.
Sony suggests turning off automatic downloads just in case, so customers don't forget about a purchase and have it auto-downloaded to their console. This is a big ask, considering one of the benefits of auto-downloading is precisely to forget that you've purchased something and having that purchase magically appear on your console when it's available.
What's more, let's say you do get a refund. That refund doesn't go back to the card you used to make the purchase. Instead, the amount is refunded to your PlayStation Wallet, meaning you essentially get store credit instead of cashback.
Sony's services like PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now are also subject to refunds within 14 days of a purchase. But those refunds are also returned as PlayStation Wallet funds and can be less than the original purchase amount, depending on how much of the subscription lapsed. So if you had a PS Plus account for a couple days before asking for a refund, you probably won't get the full amount back.
The 14 days refund period is pretty standard across Steam and Xbox, but what differs is the policy on downloaded games. Steam and Xbox both offer refunds on games that customers download and even play, so long as the total play time is less than two hours. Steam's lax policy even makes it so that players can request a refund for any reason whatsoever. Compared to them, Sony's looks much more restrictive.
While having any kind of refund policy is a step up from having none, this still isn't great. Especially considering how restrictive it is on downloads. But if you're a customer who often gets second thoughts on a purchase after making it, consider turning off automatic downloads as an added protection against unwittingly nulling any chance at a refund if you change your mind.