Valve gave the boot to 173 free and cheaply bundled games!
Valve released a statement to Polygon that the 173 titles they booted from the Steam API were from “Silicon Echo Studios, Zonitron and others.” These fake developers, known as “asset-flip developers” take advantage of Steam’s key-generating features for game developers. In May 2017, Valve explained why they had begun cracking down on fake developers.
“These fake developers take advantage of a feature we provide to all developers on Steam, which is the ability to generate Steam keys for their games. They generate many thousands of these keys and hand them out to bots running Steam accounts, which then idle away in their games to collect Trading Cards…the problem is that these games damage something we care about a lot, because it affects all our players – the Steam Store’s algorithm.”
The Steam Store’s algorithm’s job is to crunch a lot of data. With fake developers manipulating the trading card market, the algorithm cannot do its job properly. One of the algorithm’s very important jobs is to pair gamers with titles they may be interested in based on popularity and other variables. By manipulating the system, asset-flip developers contribute to the algorithm recommending their games as popular titles to real gamers. That, in turn, can be incredibly frustrating for gamers to continue to receive recommendations of games from Steam that aren’t real games.
YouTuber SidAlpha explains that “Dirty Devs” make it more difficult for legitimate indie developers to “gain visibility” on Steam. With Valve cracking down on asset-flip developers, indie-game developers will have a better chance at access to gamers.