Update: Valve has responded to our request for comment regarding the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 review bomb and refund concerns. Here is its statement in full:
We are working with Microsoft to see if we can improve the download experience. If customers are disappointed they can self-refund or, if there is a problem they may contact Steam Support.
As is noted in our article below, the long downloaded exceeding the two-hour automatic review time does not prevent players from getting a refund; rather, they cannot process an automatic refund and will have to wait for it to be processed manually.
Our original story continues below.
A Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 review bomb is currently underway for a somewhat strange reason: the game is taking too long for some players to fully download this brand-new flight sim experience.
If you've never had to refund a game on Steam, you may not be aware that there are quite a few rules in place. For most cases where you would want a refund — that is, a game doesn't quite live up to your expectations or is otherwise broken — there are really only two rules of concern to get an automatic refund: you have to request a refund within two weeks of your purchase and you must have less than two hours of playtime.
The playtime requirement is what's causing the real trouble here. As some gamers are discovering, your Steam purchase of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 doesn't exactly deliver the game quite how you'd expect.
Why is There a Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Review Bomb?
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a positively massive game, clocking in at well over 90 gigs in size. Unless you're one of those lucky Europeans who bought the physical edition, you're going to have quite a wait ahead of you.
That's where the problem lies: your Steam download of the game is actually just a launcher. When you first start it up, the launcher then begins to download the dozens of gigs of game content. This, unfortunately, counts as playtime within Steam — and some people are reporting that it takes much longer than just two hours to download everything.
5 hours played, 28 gigs left pic.twitter.com/AzoDbTgjGL— Mightyy (@WorstSombra) August 18, 2020
In short: many players can't even play this new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator before the review timer runs out. Even the preload of the game only installed approximately 500MB of data — less than 0.5% of the game's overall size on disk.
As a point of comparison, the Microsoft Store downloads a larger portion of the game before the launcher kicks in. With no other outlet available, some players have resorted to a Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 review bomb.
"Awful, just awful," read a negative Steam review from Sgruggy. "I was hoping this would be awesome, I was disappointed. Graphics looked so good in trailer, they are blurry and trees are like blobs. I want to get my 60 bucks back but because I spent 3 hours downloading it, I [can't]."
"This game [circumvents] Steam's Refund Policy," stated another negative review by MRInvidian. "The entirety of the install process for the game is done through the game itself. Steam "Installs" 500MB of data and an executable, but all the actual files required to play the game are downloaded once you launch it. This game is over 90GB of data. Meaning most people will be taking longer than two hours to install this game. Meaning if it doesn't work, isn't what players were expecting, or cannot be run on someone's computer, you CANNOT REFUND IT, as you already allocated the two hours of time just installing the game."
While this certainly sounds worrying, some people claim in the comments that Valve has made accommodations for similar issues in the past and would likely still process a review of the game due to these launcher issues. It should also be noted that this two-hour window is for automatic refunds — if you're outside that window, it will have to be manually processed and will likely take longer.
We've reached out to Microsoft and Valve about the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 review bomb and will update this article when we receive a reply. If you'd like to check this game out for yourself, you can buy Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 on Steam starting at $59.99 or your regional equivalent.
Do you think the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 review bomb is justified? Should Steam's refund policy be changed for situations such as this? Let us know in the comments below!