Developer Silicon Echo Studios has been forced to close, according to emails to website Polygon. The closure was due to the removal of the companies games from the Steam store. Over 200 titles were taken down from Valve’s store following user complaints of ‘asset flipping’.
The term ‘asset flipping’ describes games made with minimal budget and using pre-made assets, which are then sold at a very low price in order to generate Steam trading cards. The marketplace for those cards then makes more profit than the game itself. The games were removed at the end of September but the removal of the games has meant "[Silicon Echo Studios] reputation is destroyed beyond repair".
The practice has been quite regularly criticised with internet commentators such as Jim Sterling often tackling the subject. The Steam Direct programme and its predecessor Steam Greenlight has also been criticised for being vulnerable to this practice and this move has been seen as a signifier that Valve will take action against the practice.
“The only information we have been given is that our games were consistently at the top of user reported titles primarily for practices that are deceptive to the customers,” Silicon Echo Studios said to Polygon in an email. “This did not fully explain the reason for complete account and business termination, so naturally we sent an email to Valve politely asking some additional questions.”
Silicon Echo Studios did admit however that some of its practices could potentially be to blame for the removal of games. "We are no heroes, we have indeed sometimes been conducting our business with some practices people may call shady,” the studio admitted to Polygon. “For example, creating more developer names even though they were on the same account and listed under the same publisher. This was done primarily for easier statistical tracking as we did not believe it to be a problem since all the games were publicly listed under the same publisher and there was no deception included.”