Steam Yanks Another Developer's Games Over Fake Reviews Posted By Employee
from the when-will-they-learn? dept
Astro-turfing and fake reviews continue to be plagues upon the online marketplace, creating a wave of distrust with the public when it comes to properly assessing any business via online means. It’s impossible to know how big or small a problem this is, which only adds to the distrust in the public, forcing them to assume the worst. All that being said, Valve has actually been pretty good about policing reviews on its gaming platform, Steam, and also making a big public stink about instances in which it has had to take action against developers for trying to game the review system. Studios have had their games pulled from the store entirely, such as when Digital Homicide and Insel Games each had their respective titles pulled. Given that Valve made sure the volume was turned up when it took such actions, one would think that game studios ought to have gotten the message by now.
And, yet, not all of them have. Acram Digital, a developer that makes digital versions of board games, just had all of its titles disappeared by Steam when it was discovered that an Acram employee was creating fake Steam accounts and posting fake positive reviews. As it did so, Valve released the following statement.
We’ve received a number of reports for Steam review manipulation on the titles Steam: Rails to Riches and Eight-Minute Empire, from Acram Digital. After investigating these reports we have found that the developer, Grzegorz Kubas, has been trying to inflate the user review score for his titles. This is against our policy, and something we take very seriously.
Because of Grzegorz’s actions, we have removed all games/DLC developed by Acram from our store, and will no longer be doing business with him. Existing owners will be able to keep their titles.
Say what you will about Steam, but the platform has had a steady stream of consumer-friendly practices rolled out to gamers everywhere. These types of actions, particularly when accompanied by a public statement like this, are fantastic ways to preserve the trust gamers have in the platform and its review system. It’s also a good way to demonstrate that, despite Steam wanting as many games as possible in its store, the platform also values the feedback and interests of its gaming customers.
For his part, Kubas has admitted to the wrong-doing, while also pleading on behalf of his employer.
You are right. I’m guilty. It came from my frustration of few bad, unfair reviews on Valve’s Steam only. It was stupid action, not something planned. This is my individual, bad behavior, not the team, so I would like to blame me, not the devs. It’s a lesson for the rest of my life and it will not happen again, ever.
Good on him for taking responsibility in this way, although it sure would be difficult to place full trust in the rest of the studio when one of its employees actively attempted to fool potential customers in this way. Maybe it’s true that Acram had no idea he was doing this. Maybe not. The public sure can’t know the answer to that question and it seems likely that the trust has been broken beyond repair at this point regardless.
Either way, game developers really ought to know at this point that there is no percentage in fake reviews. The costs are simply too high.