Valve Bans 'Very Positive' Developer For Trying To Trick Steam Users

Illustration for article titled Valve Bans 'Very Positive' Developer For Trying To Trick Steam Users
Image: Valve / Very Positive

Emoji Evolution is a puzzle game on Steam about combining weird symbols. Or at least it was: Valve recently removed it from the storefront and banned its creator’s developer account after apparently discovering how they were exploiting Steam’s layout to try to trick people into playing the game.

“Valve has banned my developer account due to the ‘review manipulations,” Emoji Evolution developer Very Positive wrote on Twitter last Friday. “Absolutely disagree with this accusation.” Very Positive sounds inoffensive enough as a name, but in the context of Steam’s store pages, it ended up being easily mistaken for an actual Steam review rating of “Very Positive.” The developer even made sure the name matched the font and color of Valve’s official ratings. It was a cute prank and a funny riff on the ways developers try to game Steam’s marketplace.

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At least I thought so. Valve? Not so much. In an interview over on Vice with Patrick Klepek, who was one of the first people to discover the trickery, Very Positive originally said they didn’t think it would be an issue. “Valve fully understands how minor this trick is,” they said. “It’s more important to have a famous brand name like Obsidian there.” Apparently not.

Originally born of a conversation about the nature of emoji online and their ongoing transformation and proliferation, Emoji Evolution ended up being an interesting art piece highlighting some of the absurdities and shortcomings of Steam. It remains to be seen if it will ever return, or inspire other small developers to try to take advantage of Steam’s laissez faire approach to curation.

“I’ve made a really bad game—this is the only thing I’m guilty of,” reads Very Positive’s latest tweet. “If making awful games is not allowed on Steam, why haven’t they already suspended the CDPR account?”

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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phazonphazoff

I’ve had Steam for what seems like half my life at this point. At one point it was fun to play with friends when it seemed to have standards for its games. Now it seems like every story I read about it for the last umpteen years lays out in detail how it’s little more than a dumping ground for the worst quality ‘games’ ever. It seems like Valve tries to do quality control on it and yet with the floodgates open for anybody and their mother to put stuff up there, it’s a neverending struggle to clean it up. How do you find any quality games on Steam without digging through mountains of garbage?