Developer RosePortal Games has had all user reviews wiped for its PC RPG Epic Quest of the 4 Crystals by Valve.
Kotaku reports that it was discovered the developer was giving away keys for the title in exchange for user reviews. As users' lack of disclosure left Valve unable to distinguish between reviewers who had and had not paid for the game, the company said it had no alternative but to scrap the lot.
It's come to our attention that Aldorlea Games and RosePortal Games have given gifts or otherwise compensated some Steam customers to get them to leave reviews for the game Epic Quest of the Four Crystals. This is a manipulation of the user review system, which we don't allow,” Valve said.
Unfortunately, we cannot tell which reviews were manipulated in this way. To preserve the integrity of user reviews on the product, we're deleting all user reviews to date. If you wish to repost your review, we welcome you to do so – we've emailed all affected customers and included a copy of their user review.
Advertising laws in many countries require you to disclose any compensation for your review. If you received anything from a publisher or developer in exchange for a user review please say so in your review.”
Valve updated its Steam T&Cs in March to stipulate that users must disclose all paid for endorsements.
In July developer MomoStorm kicked off a similar controversy by offering in-game currency for its title Epic Cards Battle in exchange for reviews. It defended its stance by insisting that it never stipulated that the reviews must be positive.