A new game called The Hidden and Unknown was released on Steam this week with a ridiculous price tag of US$1,999.90. The game is self-published and deliberately short, lasting less than two hours, which means it can be completed within Steam’s refund policy.
The Hidden and Unknown starts with an 8-minute Star Wars-style introduction. Which is totally unskippable. It presents a theory about an imbalance between masculine and feminine energy that is causing infertility in Western men and increased masculinity in women. This ultimately the end of humanity. It appears that the game, which is priced at $2,000, is essentially a philosophy lesson that espouses the same outdated ideas commonly found in free videos posted by supplement-selling YouTube “masculinity gurus”. This game seems to be just another example of Steam becoming a platform for all kinds of content.
Image from ProX.team
The Hidden and Unknown is not the first game to use Steam’s refund policy as part of its design. In the past, a game called Refund Me If You Can offered players the challenge of escaping a maze in less than two hours, in order to qualify for a refund. While the use of the refund policy in this way can be seen as a playful and meta-contextual design element, the author of the article finds the maze example more enjoyable.
The game’s creator, known as ThePro, claims that the high price reflects its personal value to them. They have suggested that anyone who cannot afford the game should either refund it or not purchase it. I mean if the pricing is meant to be a stunt to get eyes on it, well it definitely worked. But one thing’s for sure, it won’t be me paying that hefty pricetag.