Most of the controversy surrounding the game Murder stems from it only having a twenty-minute length, and in a post-Steam refund world, some people think that’s unacceptable.
In my review for Murder, I said that while the game has a beautiful art style, its incoherent plot and short length make it feel incomplete.
Many Steam reviews agree, saying that “the length of the game does not justify the price” and “if you want your walking sim to be worth the money you need a longer playtime.”
Peter Moorhead, the developer of the game, said he was okay with Murder’s mixed reception.
“I'd far rather have my games be polarising than have everyone think they're "just alright”,” he said on Twitter.
Moorhead has also written about his problems with Steam’s recently implemented refund system, where consumers can get a refund regardless of circumstances, as long as they’ve played the game for less than two hours.
In a Tumblr post about the topic, Moorhead said that, “by implementing a one-size-fits all solution, Valve have just introduced a significant risk to the livelihoods of thousands of independent developers who rely on their platform for income.”
A passage from Moorhead's blog post on the topic of Steam refunds.
Moorhead said that Steam’s refund system is unfair to shorter games that can be completed in less than two hours. There’s nothing to stop people from finishing a game and then immediately requesting a refund
He also said that the system supports the idea that good games should be a certain length. Moorhead said this doesn’t account for story-driven games, or ones that have an emphasis on replayability.
Moorhead compared Steam’s refunds to a restaurant meal, saying that, “If you decide you don’t like it after a couple of bites, fine - if you decide it was bad after you’ve eaten the whole thing, of course you aren’t entitled to a refund.”
In his post he proposed that games only get refunds for games if they are less than half or a quarter completed. He also suggested refunds only apply to games of a certain price.
Jim Sterling, former editor of Destructoid and The Escapist, covered the game in a video titled, “Murder – Best Unintentional Comedy Game of 2015.” Sterling was disappointed by the game’s length and said that the plot, “barely got started and then the credits rolled.”
After Sterling’s video, Moorhead said on Twitter that his inbox was filled with abuse, and that Sterling was, “passively fielding people in his direction while claiming impunity.
Sterling responded by saying that while he stands behind everything he said in the video, he was sorry for any harassment his audience had given Moorhead.
Sterling said that his “caustic style” was part of the problem, and that it was a skill he needed to work on.
Afterwards Moorhead announced on Twitter that he was going to take a break to think about things, saying that he had felt, “anxious and unwelcome in games for a while now and it’s beginning to negatively affect my health.”