Almost anyone can produce a game and get it released on Steam. Silicon Echo Studios has proven this time and time again, and now Valve has put a stop to it, at least for now, as reported by Polygon on Tuesday.
173 games have been removed from the Steam marketplace today, the continuation of Valve’s battle against what they refer to as “asset-flippers.” “Asset-flippers” are those who abuse the Steam Direct system to cut a profit on cheap – and cheaply made – titles on its service. Games like Clickey, Grim Banana, SHAPES and the like have been removed as a result of this ongoing battle. Silicon Echo was able to release these games by abusing Valve’s Steam Direct program, which allowed them to circumvent the $100 fee for each individual game by releasing multiple games on one application.
These games by Silicon Echo, which also – allegedly – sold games under the name Zonitron Productions, were exposed by a YouTuber by the name of SidAlpha, who uploaded a video and a research file that cataloged a number of titles by the developer over the last three months. His findings indicate that the studio’s titles accounted for 10 percent at the very least of all games released in July and August of this year. Silicon Echo was found to have published 86 games in that two-month timeframe alone.
The games were often given away in bundles, some free, and some low-cost became a practice that Valve publicly condemned in August, stating that they may “restrict issuing Steam Keys in extreme examples,” in order to combat game sales outside of the marketplace, as well as trading card farming, which was an issue that Valve started to combat over the summer.
This takedown is the largest that has been seen this year, but that’s not to say that Valve hasn’t removed games before, as CrimsonDuck was found to be committing the same act three months ago, causing Valve to remove all of their games from Steam.
Valve issued the following statement to Polygon in reference to their removal of Silicon Echo titles from the marketplace:
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.
In positive Steam news: you can now redeem Steam codes from your browser, in case you missed that.