Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Valve removes 173 'spam' games from Steam, all published by one person

"Spamming cloned games or manipulating our store tools isn’t something we will tolerate," says Valve.

173 games were removed from the Steam store yesterday, which may be a record. As Polygon reports, the removed games include titles such as Fruit Candypop, Rage Parking Simulator 2017, SHAPES4, SHAPES5, SHAPES6, and, who could forget, SHAPES7. Sure enough, SteamDB shows that all of the games in the list were updated about 18 hours ago, and none of them have Steam store pages anymore (though existing owners should still be able to play them).
Based on the titles, it seems likely that these are some of the "bad actors" Valve was talking about in May when it announced changes to Trading Cards, though we haven't yet heard from Valve or the developers of these games (Update: See Valve's response below). Back in May, Valve accused unnamed developers of releasing cheap games, sometimes just 'asset flipped' versions of previous games, solely so they could mine their own Trading Cards and then sell them.
"These fake developers take advantage of a feature we provide to all developers on Steam, which is the ability to generate Steam keys for their games," wrote Valve. "They generate many thousands of these keys and hand them out to bots running Steam accounts, which then idle away in their games to collect Trading Cards. Even if no real players ever see or buy one of these fake games, their developers make money by farming cards."
Last month, a post in Valve's developer forums indicated that it would no longer approve large batches of keys for just any game. "We're not interested in supporting trading card farming or bot networks at the expense of being able to provide value and service for players," Valve told us.
We've reached out to Valve for comment, as well as Silicon Echo, the company which published the bulk of the removed games (and has been criticized for it before).
Update: Valve has responded to our inquiry, telling us that a single "bad actor" who released games under multiple names—one of which is Silicon Echo, as mentioned above—was engaging in what Valve considers "extreme actions" by releasing "nearly-identical products," "abusing Steam keys," and "misrepresenting themselves on the Steam store." As a result, Valve says it has removed the games and ended its business relationship with the individual. "Spamming cloned games or manipulating our store tools isn’t something we will tolerate," concludes the statement. "Our priority is helping players find games they will enjoy playing."
Read the full statement from Valve below:
We have a full-time team monitoring reports and they identified an issue that lead to the removal of some titles from a few different Steamworks accounts. These accounts were generating a lot of reports and frustration from customers and other developers. It turns out that the bad actors were all the same person operating under different accounts.
What we found was a set of extreme actions by this person that was negatively impacting the functionality of the store and our tools. For example, this person was mass-shipping nearly-identical products on Steam that were impacting the store’s functionality and making it harder for players interested in finding fun games to play. This developer was also abusing Steam keys and misrepresenting themselves on the Steam store.
As a result, we have removed those games from the Steam Store and ended our business relationship with them.
The Steam platform is open, but we do ask developers to respect our customers and our policies. Spamming cloned games or manipulating our store tools isn’t something we will tolerate. Our priority is helping players find games they will enjoy playing.


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