Steam is both a user-friendly digital game store and a grim shithole, full of weird, archaic remnants of bygone ideas that Valve never got around to finishing or improving on. An example of this is the system of curators. Most users barely interact with it, but recently an independent developer believes the system is being used by scammers who also sell game codes on gray markets. They claim that because they did not provide free codes, their latest game was targeted by these so-called scammers on Steam.
Yesterday on Twitter, Cowcat, the developer behind Brok—a new point-and-click beat ’em up game starring an alligator—shared a now viral thread explaining how a particular type of scam works involving curators, Steam codes, and reviews. steam healer liza are made by the user and anyone can create and update them. with reviews of new or old games, helping people easily find the next game to buy. And while the alleged scammers don’t technically confirm anything in the thread, the evidence is telling and is yet another example of the kinds of shit smaller game developers have to deal with when trying to make and sell games in the year 2022. embargo, scammers tricking developers and PR into handing over codes it is not a new phenomenon by any means.
On August 28, only two days after Whiningrelease date, Cowcat explained that the game was being the target of some Steam curators with suspicious negative reviews. While many of these curators had hundreds of positive reviews for various other games, some had posted negative curator reviews for Whining.
What makes this more suspicious is that many of these healers only had a negative review and it was his Whining revision. Cowcat states that many of these healers had initially posted positive reviews by Whining. But then something changed. So what happened? Well, the developer thinks this attempt to filter out scammers by sending them free codes via email angered some people.
Usually, Indie Developer Email Inboxes Are Flooded with people requesting codes, claiming to be reviewers, critics, YouTubers, editors, etc. As Cowcat mentions in the thread, most of these are scammers looking to get some free codes which can then be sold on shady key selling sites. But in an effort not to accidentally ignore the few legitimate critics and reviewers who reach out to play Whining, Cowcat devised a plan. They sent all these people Steam keys for free-to-play Whining prologue, which acts as a prequel and demo to the full game. Cowcat thought that people who really wanted to play the game for review purposes would use the code, see that it was for the free prologue, and report the bug. And although some contacted the developer about the “mistake” that most didn’t make, which Cowcat thinks is because they didn’t want to play it, instead they quickly sold the key through the shadow key sellers.
This move likely caused these scammers some problems as the people who bought the keys found out that they had been scammed. So Cowcat believes that some of these scammers went to their curator pages on Steam and checked Whining negatively before its release. What makes these reviews highly suspicious is that Cowcat never released the full game to these people, however, their reviews claim to have played the full game.
it should be noted that any curator can review any game on steam, even if they don’t own it or never have played, which makes it even easier for people to use the old, barely updated fraud system.
my box has reached out to Cowcat and Valve.
After all of this, Cowcat says they plan to let Valve know about these Steam curators. They also further criticized the company for allowing Steam curators and shady scammers to use positive and negative reviews like this to “blackmail” indie developers. Additionally, they asked people not to buy games through shady key sites, as the developers don’t see a dime of these sales, as the codes are often obtained through scams like the one Cowcat believes these curators are involved.
As to how this will affect WhiningCowcat is not worried because they don’t believe in these healers lead to many sales on Steam. But they are still happy that their thread has gone viral and is helping spread the word about how these types of scams continue to go unpunished on Steam.