Over 150 games developed by Silicon Echo Chambers were removed from Steam yesterday, including many known favorites such as Brilliant Bob, Pins 3 and Yello Bandana. Well, only favorites in the world of criticism. These removed games have been heavily criticized by Steam users for their low-quality and poor gameplay. Valve has gone so far to call these games “fake” since they are the products of “asset-flippers,” otherwise known as anyone who cuts major corners in game-development, like using pre-made Unity assets, for the purpose of making a game fast and cheap.
Asset-flipping has been an on-going issue on Steam, not just for the purpose of making money on the sale of the game itself. Valve used the term “fake games” back in May of this year to discuss how asset-flippers are making a lot of money through Steam’s trading card system, “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. 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.”
In August Valve started restricting keys for any any game they deemed was made for the purpose of exploiting this system. Now Valve isn’t hesitating to just remove games entirely as the issue continues to be a problem.
How Valve fully plans to solve asset-flipping is unknown. It doesn’t seem as if removing batches of games on a case by case basis is a great long-term solution, however there’s no question that Valve is committed to figuring out a solution. Here’s Valve’s official statement, as reported to Polygon, on the removal of Silicon Echo Chambers games:
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.