Just a few years ago, a prospective customer could keep up with the “Upcoming Releases” tab on Steam. Nowadays, that tab will give you maybe a day’s worth of Steam games at a glance. Valve even replaced it with a machine driven “Popular Upcoming” list in July 2018. And now Valve has gone and removed over 150 Steam games from the service.
This change has hidden away some of the more question items from the general public. Still, if you look beyond the surface, there are still a lot of dubious Steam games for sale. Thankfully, Valve has been looking harder in recent weeks. A look over at Steam Tools reveals that over 150 different games have gotten the boot in the last two weeks of September.
Among the games removes are such titles as Apocalyptic cars war, Basketball, and Don’t Fall. Other fallen Steam games include the entire Achievement Hunter series and more than a few games with “Hentai” in their titles. This could be due to Valve’s stance against “troll Steam games,” but there’s other work at play here.
As of now, all their titles have been removed from the store. I am aware that they were using some sock puppet accounts, namely BCH Waves and BCH Waves Studio so I will forward those off to Valve shortly. I'll also hopefully look more into both removals' reasoning. pic.twitter.com/aQD206DLKl
— Mellow_Online1 (@MellowOnline1) September 20, 2018
The vast majority of recent Steam game removals were probably due to developer actions rather than any given game’s quality. Valve hasn’t officially given any reason why such studios as “BCH Waves” and “ASCII Games” got the boot.
However, we can make an educated guess based on the tireless work of the watchdogs involved with Sentinels of the Store. The research that goes into a publisher shows that these companies were releasing the same game over and over under different titles. Some games existed solely to spam achievements and others were pure regurgitations of assets available elsewhere.
While it seems unbelievable that a handful of bad actors put out this much product, that is the reality. Of the 150 or so Steam games deleted in this go around, there are only five or six companies behind them. Bigger actors in this field have been even more prolific, with Zonitron Games once having 152 games under their name alone.
So we have a plethora of good news, putilin industries/bch waves and some others got the boot from Steam AND some of the blatant review manipulation that was going on in other games has beeen greatly reduced as in Valve banned most of the fake accounts, Well done Steam Community
— SirViolentDeath (@SirViolentDeath) September 21, 2018
Beyond the quality of its output, these developers gamed the system through various means. As seen in the profile for “Patriot Game,” there are black market-esque systems for purchasing all sorts of things. Want your game to show up on more wishlists? Do you desire a bunch of slightly different positive reviews? Are you all about having bots market your Steam trading cards automatically? This is all available if you know the right kind of shady person. It’s also the type of action that has caused this mass banning.
Steam’s system still isn’t perfect, but this mass removal tells us that Valve now knows where to look. They seem more dedicated than ever at stopping those who have been taking advantage of their lax attitudes towards curation. We may never get back to the glory days of a few high-quality releases per week. But, we might be able to once again purchase a genuinely bizarre game for our $2 instead of an asset flip.