Valve has offered an official statement to Polygon in response to their original story on the sudden removal of 173 Steam games with the following explanation:
“Yes, 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.”
These titles were attributed to 12 separate publishers which turned out to be headed up by the person in question above. They included:
- Anteater Games
- Broadplay Games
- Cubecumber Games
- Digital Airony
- Digital Airony Studios
- Digital Carrot Productions
- Floop Productions
- GooCubelets Games
- Netfork Studios
- Pixberry Studios
- Silicon Echo
- Zonitron Productions
In their initial story, Polygon explained that Valve themselves referred to these titles as “fake” games, utilizing pre-made assets from resources like Unity to release numerous titles in short order. As Polygon explains, the scheme goes something like this:
“These were often given away in either free or low-cost bundles. Anyone on Steam interested in boosting their user level and collecting some easy trading cards to resell on the gray market could pick up [these] packages for little cost, earning back some cash with minimum effort for both themselves and the developer. Although trading cards typically go for as little as 25 cents, racking up a number of them can help users pay off a cheap game bundle purchase. Since developers get a cut, it’s a win-win situation.”
This behavior is harder to nail down when the offending party isn’t so egregious about it. In this case, however, research by members of the Steam groups Guardians of Greenlight/Sentinels of the Store revealed that this one publisher’s titles amounted to approximately 10% of the games released on Steam in both July and August.
In their own post, the Sentinels of the Store’s iDuL added that anybody who has a code for these games will have them removed from their account the next time they activate a key or buy a game. While anyone who previously purchased these games will retain them in their library, all Steam marketplace items (cards, etc) have been disabled.
For the time being, this post will serve as the page for these 173 titles which were identified through this Steam Tools page. The names can be found below and individually searched through the search bar at the top of the site.