The indie developer exposed several scams

The Valve platform is full of good ideas, but some parts are an open door to scams of all kinds.

With its ease of use and its large catalog, Steam has quickly established itself as the leading sales platform for PC gamers. Over the years, the launcher has evolved to offer more and more features reminiscent of what consoles do. However, some additions failed to convince the company and its community, pushing them to be abandoned and forgotten.

Some players may remember the Steam curation groups, those groups created by the media, organizations or others with the purpose of recommending games to the entire audience. It has been a long time since this feature was discussed, and very few users seem to follow the recommendations of these groups. It’s no longer visible on the store’s home screen, you really have to search to find it. Despite this discretion, an independent developer discovered a sad practice hiding behind this system, benefiting from the biggest scam in PC gaming.

Blackmail and CD key

This is an independent French studio that reveals these monstrous excesses. Cowcat was recently developed and published The Investigator flipped, an old point’n click, well adapted for fans of the genre. Great at first glance, the game had a lot of negative ratings after its release. That means the game is bad, but really, the studio was quick to denounce a review bombingie a bunch of fake ratings to spoil the game.

But why would an indie game do that? Like a whistleblower, the Cowcat team decided to show the truth behind the publication of a game and the impact of Steam curation groups. When an independent game is released, many content creators, journalists and other testers flock to it. contact the developers to request a key to try the new title. However, it is difficult for them to sift through the astronomical number of emails to know which ones are sincere or not. result, So CD keys are shipped in bulk. Unfortunately, although most requesters are well-intentioned, many others have only one goal: doing business on key resale sites.

To avoid this situation, the Cowcat studio has come up with a plan: send a CD key that will give access to the game’s free prologue. Therefore, legitimate testers come to warn developers of the error to get the right key, while scammers don’t even realize it. Except that in the end, it’s not to the taste of digital thieves…


The bombing review of The Investigator flipped therefore followed this initiative on the part of the studio. While the game did not have negative ratings after release, It takes a few days for positive ratings to turn into negative comments. To the total surprise of the studio, it comes from the big curation groups to which the studio sends the keys. And how did the developers manage to expose the scammers? It’s all about subterfuge.

These ratings are 100% wrong if you know I sent them a key for the prologue, they can’t play the whole game

The CD keys sent only offer the introduction to the game, and yet the comments claim to have played the entire game. The purpose of these groups is to pressure independent developers to push them to send other keys. In fact, after selling keys that do not provide access to the entire game, thieves must have found themselves in trouble. Far from getting this blackmail, Cowcat was thus able to identify a full list of curation groups with bad intentions to report them to Valve. Many independent developers suffer from this kind of blackmail, ready to do anything so that their game is not at the bottom of the ranking.

This situation also reminds us of that CD keys sold on resale platforms are often steals of this kind. By buying these resellers, no income goes to the developers and this practice is dangerous for the video game as an art and a profession. So the studio invites players to be careful and buy their games from official sources. Curating groups won’t hurt a game because of their low impact on the Steam community, but their key reselling action can be deadly for small developers.

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