The news came to us all via an entry on Steam's News feed, stating only the following:
"We're releasing a major update to how we handle requests for refunds for purchases on Steam. You can read through all the details about refunds on Steam here, or visit http://help.steampowered.com if you’re having trouble with a purchase. We hope this will give you more confidence in trying out titles that you're less certain about.The three links in the above text lead in order, to a page outlining the new policy, their help page, and a discussion page they made just for this new adjustment. The help page is basically exactly what you would expect... you can log into the site there to submit a help ticket, but the other two are far more interesting. The refunds outline boils down to a general rule of Steam now accepting refunds for any game without any questions asked, so long as you have not had the game for more then 2 weeks and have not played more then 2 hours of it. They simply do not care why you are returning it at this point. Their own examples list things as dumb as buying games your machine clearly has no business running or even just plain deciding you do not like the game!
Let us know what you think."
Now obviously modern gaming by it's very nature will complicate this a little... after all there are things like DLC and in-game purchases that have to be considered, and those do not get quite the same level of support. DLC has fairly similar restraints as main games, but the 2 hour limit applies to the main game, and if the DLC alters things in the main game so that they can not be removed safely they won't be able to do it. (Example, extra levels to your character and such... basically DLC that is inseparable from the game once installed.)
In game purchases, are another whole mess since these are not really controlled by Steam. Sure they can use your steam wallet if you let them (I should know as I bought Venom for Marvel heroes this way), but the actual store is not included in Steam so Valve really has no control. However, they did invite these publishers to take up the same policy.
In both cases, the content that can not offer refunds at all will be clearly marked on the store page, so you will know before hand.
The only overall options that can not be refunded this way are if you are VAC banned from a game or you bought the game retail. This being a digital store, retail games will have to be refunded by the store the game was bought at according to their rules, and VAC users... guys, you were banned for cheating. They are not going to give you back your cash for basically getting yourselves removed from the online game.
Finally, the last link points to a Steam discussion page where it seems a lot of the answers the site is getting basically surmount to "about fucking time, but glad you did it" and here I agree completely. With such policies already in place in both other stores I use (Origin and Gog.com), this was a long time coming to the single biggest store in the online market.
However, I do have to go back to VAC banning for a second. With the rescent addition allowing devs to tell Steam to ban users from their game, this could get interesting. And while it could lead to small devs abusing this to deny refunds, it will also enforce their need to be reasonable, since gamers tend to pay attention to who makes their games these days, and if you become a dev with a rep of abusing this power, these limits are only going to make it less likely anything you make in the future will sell at all. This could make for a very interesting situation.
Overall though, this is a good thing. It's about time Valve caught up to EA of all companies, and anything that makes it easier for gamers to feel safe about buying for their platform(s) of choice is a great thing for us all. Thank you and may this work out for all of us.