Valve is strict on the quality of the games on Steam, and this is something it has been vocal about lately. On Tuesday, it made its intentions clear again by removing nearly 200 cheap, fake games, most of which were from the same publisher.
Valve blocked 173 games, and most of them were from Silicon Echo Studio. The games that were removed from Steam are no longer available for sale. The players who already own the games can continue to play them, but they cannot earn trading cards from playing them. Some of the titles that were removed are Clickey, Grim Banana and SHAPES.
“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,” Valve said in a statement to Polygon.
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Silicon Echo Studios used pre-made Unity assets, which allowed them to churn out fake games quickly. According to Polygon, Silicon Echo Studios was also publishing games under the name Zonitron Productions. Further, the developer was using Valve’s Steam Direct system to make profits from games that are not even played. A developer gets a small cut when a trading card is traded. Though the cut is only a few cents, when about 200 titles are played by bot accounts, that small cut adds up to a big amount. The developer also avoided paying the standard $100 per title fee by pushing the games out via the Steam Direct program.
A YouTube video from SidAlpha details all the titles published by Silicon Echo, including via the Zonitron Productions name. According to the video, the titles published by the developer accounted for about 10% of all the games released in July and August. All these titles were either free or low-cost bundles, making them attractive for players interested in raising their user level and collecting easy trading cards, notes Polygon.
In May, Valve first admitted that Steam has a problem with fake games. Then in August, Valve condemned the practice, saying that any developer found selling fake games would face consequences. Further, a post in Valve’s developer forums hinted that the company would not support large batches of keys for just any game and that it can also restrict Steam passwords to developers.
At the time, the company told Polygon, “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 recently added histograms to make it easy for customers to understand Review Bombing.
In addition, the company has been working since April to limit foul practices on its platform. It has taken several measures to do this, including changes to trading cards, introducing a new system of recommendations and a new system to replace Steam Greenlight. Though Steam Direct was supposed to be an answer to the complaints that Greenlight was allowing undeserving games to flourish on the platform, it appears that the system has somewhat failed its purpose.