Steam Stuff - What Has the Digital Distribution Giant Done Lately?


Changes announced to combat the fake games issue. Posted to the private dev group on Steam:


Good deal. I’ve seen dollar bundles advertising a dozen games with 5000 achievements each, and they’re all very obviously fake games, so hopefully this change will cut down on that a bit.


It’s better than nothing, but I’d rather instead of this long cycle of trying to make it less profitable to create fakes, they just delete them and ban the developers. I mean, we’re not even talking objectionable content here, this is stuff with no value except to pad stats that people care about for some reason.


On a different note, anybody else getting a bunch of trading cards from random games the past few hours?


No, but I did a day or two back, and lots of people were reporting it on the Steam forums.


I imagine it’s incredibly easy to fake/recreate all the necessary info when PayPal and email are free, Valve almost certainly isn’t verifying street addresses for dev accounts, and the fee for opening a dev account is so small that even these fake games can turn a profit. Better to make releasing these games not worth the time in the first place than to let them clog up the system in a different way.


Yeah, I get that too. Had it twice last week in a couple of days. Infuriating. And god, their video player is absolute shit. In fact, viewing screenshots in the community tab is absolute shit as well. Steam’s great but at times it feels like it’s held together with tape and chewing gum.


And yeah, I had one from Enter the Gungeon which I haven’t loaded up in months.


Why is this kind of thing even a problem? Who cares if people buy these “fake games” to inflate their profile pages (which is an attitude I don’t think I’ll ever understand)? Surely it’s all just more money for Valve?


Valve doesn’t restrict trading cards to games purchased on steam’s platform. The expectation is that if I buy the game on GMG and activate it on steam I should still be able to get trading cards for it.

Therefore, Steam can’t verify the keys were actually paid for or given out for free. So you create fake games and generate a lot of keys for 3rd parties, use them to farm trading cards then sell the cards for profit.


But who buys those cards for the fake games? I’m still convinced there is money laundering going on, but I don’t know how anyone gets the money back out of Steam.


Valve doesn’t pay you out immediately. If they caught these games in the first month or two there’d be no profit.

I agree that these are reasonable changes though, addressing incentives is always a smart way to go. It’s hard to imagine legitimate games being impacted by this at all.


The issue being discussed isn’t trading cards but achievements using fake games.


One of the reasons Steam’s interface is cluttered up with trash that’s both hurting the store’s reputation and making indie developers’ lives more difficult is all these fake games. It’s even worse when those games get actual sales due to profile inflation, since the store algorithms might initially think that its a real thing “normal” people want to see.


Yep. Apparently it has something to do with Steam adding some cards to games, and then retroactively awarding them to people based upon time played.

Would be nice to get some sort of notice about it though. I’ve got 2-factor authentication enabled and whatnot, but it’s still an initial reaction of “Who the hell logged into my account and played Terraria?!?”


In my case it was Saints Row 4. Yeah, there should have been some kind of notification.


I’ve seen people with excess steam bucks (heavy traders in the virtual goods market) buy games for others in trade for real cash (at a 10-15% discount off listed price).

Don’t think this scales to big money laundering though, this is on the order of low thousands at the high end I think.


I believe that, and I do wonder if it’s happening on a larger scale too. @KallDrexx suggested that people are creating fake games to give out keys and then farm for cards to sell for profit. I don’t understand who would be buying the cards for the fake games to allow them to make a profit, though… Unless it’s money laundering.

Put money into Steam, filter it through random cards to break up the trail, eventually buy keys you resell to pull the money out. Given the sheer volume of cards apparently trading on Steam, maybe that’s not too far-fetched.

Just in case anyone is interested, the average trading volume for the first 36 games for which I have cards in my inventory is 80 cards in the last 24 hours. They’re all pretty cheap, so that’s $4/card/day. Searching through the Steam marketplace shows roughly 30,000 cards with more than 100 active listings. If my 80 sales per card @ $0.05 average holds true (and it’s probably way too high), that’s $120,000/day. That’s only $43 million a year, though, so probably not actually the result of serious money laundering.


While it’s easy to set up as a dev in Steam, it’s quite harder than what you imply. Or at least it used to.


You don’t need to sell cards for the fake games. They can be broken down into gems, which can be used to craft booster packs for real games. These can be sold to real people either opened or unopened.