Abstractism, a basic, budget platform game, has been removed from Steam’s storefront after four months on sale, following accusations of undisclosed cryptomining and distribution of counterfeit items available for sale on the Steam marketplace.
Players reported high CPU usage from the game’s ‘steamservice’ executable, and this coupled with Abstractism’s requirement for players to basically keep the game running in order to bag better items – with things dropping periodically and increasing in quality the longer the game has been going – led people to believe their hardware was being used without their consent for bitcoin mining purposes.
The game’s developer, Okalo Union, replied to concerns about potential cryptomining with a bizarre statement, later said to be ‘a joke’: "Bitcoin is outdated, we currently use Abstractism to mine only Monero coins." (Monero is, of course, another cryptocurrency).
As well as the accusations of cryptocurrency mining, Abstractism was also rewarding players with items they could sell on the Steam platform – as do many games. Unfortunately said items were clones of way more valuable items from other games, such as Team Fortress 2’s Strange Australium Rocket Launcher – something that sells for around £70 in real world money.
After being picked up on by the Steam and Youtube community – and the press – Valve removed Abstractism and sent a boilerplate statement to those requesting comment: "We have removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling with content, and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items," the statement said.
A similar occurrence saw another game – Climber – removed from sale after it was revealed to be rewarding players with duplicates of a valuable DOTA2 item, the Dragonclaw Hook. Said item can sell for upwards of £600.
Valve has come under fire increasingly in recent months for its policies on what is and isn’t allowed on the Steam storefront. Active Shooter – a school shooter simulator – was allowed up before being taken down, while Valve’s own policies on what is allowed on Steam changed from curation to a free-for-all.
This is likely to be another learning moment for the company, as it shows some level of quality filter is necessary – not for issues of taste or morality, but for the basic safety of consumers.