Booted for “review manipulations”.
A developer has been booted off Steam after brazenly attempting to trick users into buying its games by naming its company Very Positive.
You can probably see where this is going already, but look at a game’s Steam page and you’ll see several prominent fields in the info panel to the right. A game’s customer rating, displayed in bright blue if positive, is easy to spot at a glance, and it’s likely to be the first place many Steam users look when opening a page. Crucially for this story, however, there’s some other similarly presented information nearby, in the form of developer and publisher fields.
Noticing this, one devious, if ultimately rather naive, developer decided to exploit this potentially confusing proximity, listing their name and publisher as Very Positive on their Emoji Evolution game’s Steam page. “I knew that reviews have a huge impact on the customer’s decision,” the developer, using the name Mike, told Vice, “I noticed that the publisher/developer name is located really close to the reviews and has the same colour, and I decided to use it for my purposes….[Steam users] make conclusions about information when seeing familiar words and don’t spend much time reading all the words”.
The ruse was first spotted by newsletter GamesDiscoverCo, earning Mike some degree of infamy, which in turn prompted him to be less than subtle about his deception on Twitter. And while Mike was initially adamant Valve wouldn’t have an issue with his scheme – telling Vice, “Valve fully understands how minor this trick is” – that ultimately wasn’t the case.
With Very Positive Games’ ploy drawing increased attention as a result of the developer’s brazen social media posts – with the story being picked up by numerous media outlets – Valve eventually stepped in. And in tweet posted several days ago, Mike confirmed the company has now banned his developer account from its platform, citing “review manipulations”.
Mike says he “Absolutely disagree[s] with this accusation”, but it seems there may be a little more afoot. GameDiscoverCo, when it first spotted Mike’s Steam page hijinks, also detailed what it believed to be suspicious activity around Emoji Evolution’s mysteriously positive reviews – something that would raise Valve’s ire, with or without that cheekily placed Very Positive.