Steam: Independent Developer Reveals Huge Scam

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Valve’s platform is full of good ideas, but some features are an open door to scams of all kinds.

With its ease of use and colossal catalogue, Steam has quickly established itself as the number one sales platform for PC gamers. Over the years, the launcher has been improving, offering more and more functions that are reminiscent of what is also done on consoles. However, some additions failed to convince the firm and its community, leading them to be abandoned and forgotten.

Some gamers may remember Steam curation groups, those groups created by media, organizations, or others for the purpose of recommending games to an entire audience. It’s been a long time since this feature was talked about, and very few users seem to follow the recommendations of these groups. These no longer appear on the store home screen, you really have to search for them to find them. Despite this discretion, an indie developer has just discovered a very sad practice behind this system, benefiting the biggest scam in PC gaming.

Blackmail and CD keys

That is an independent French study that has brought to light these terrible excesses. Cowcat just developed and published brok the investigator, an old-fashioned point’n click, well adapted for lovers of the genre. Charming at first glance, the game had a ton of negative ratings right after its release. That could mean the game is bad, but really, the studio was quick to denounce a blitz of reviewsi.e. a bunch of fake ratings to hurt the game.

But why do that to an indie game? As a whistleblower, the Cowcat team decided to show the reality behind publishing a game and the impact of Steam curation groups. When an indie game is released, many content creators, journalists, and other testers flock to contact the developers to request a key to test the new title. However, it is very difficult for them to sift through the astronomical amount of emails to know who is sincere or not. Results, Therefore, CD keys are sent in bulk. Unfortunately, while most applicants have good intentions, many others have only one goal: doing business on key reselling sites.

To avoid this situation, the Cowcat studio has come up with a scheme: send a CD key that gives access to the game’s free prologue. Therefore, legitimate testers would come to warn the developers of the error to get the correct key, while the scammers would not even notice. Except in the end, it wasn’t to the taste of the digital thieves…

Caught red handed

bombing review brok the investigator That is why this initiative was followed by the studio. While the game did not have negative ratings shortly after release, it took a few days for positive ratings to turn into nasty comments. To the general surprise of the study, these came from large curation groups that the studio sent keys to. And how did the developers manage to expose the scammers? It is subterfuge.

“These ratings are 100% wrong when they know I sent them a key for the prologue they couldn’t play the full game“

The CD keys sent only offered the prologue of the game, and yet the comments claim to have played the full game.. The purpose of these groups was to pressure independent developers to submit other keys. In fact, after selling keys that don’t give access to the full game, the crooks must have found themselves in trouble. Far from being fooled by this blackmail, Cowcat was able to identify a whole list of malicious curation groups to report to Valve. Many independent developers suffer from this type of blackmail, willing to do anything so that their game does not remain in the last positions of the classification.

This situation also reminds us that CD keys sold on reselling platforms are very often theft of this kind. By buying through these resellers, the developers do not earn any income and this practice is dangerous for the video game as an art and profession. Therefore, the studio invites gamers to be careful and buy their games from official sources. Group selection can’t hurt a game too much due to its low impact on the Steam community, but its key reselling action can be fatal for small developers.


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