Over the years, Valve has introduced a number of important features to Steam, most of which are quite useful for the end user, like universal cloud saves, game activation keys, modding workshop and many more. Some of them, however, are extremely susceptible to abuse by malicious third parties, and the Curator feature may be high on that list.
Following a presentation by the developer of Brok the Investigator, Cowcat, Valve has banned more than 20 Steam Curator pages due to owners trying to scam developers’ game keys to resell them on the gray market. The unfolding of events was followed by Reddit user HeyStudio90, who posted this issue on game developer subreddits in an effort to prove just how widespread and common these scams are.
While the Steam Curator feature was abused at launch in 2014, it’s been difficult to quantify the problem over the years. Cowcat, however, had taken it upon himself to figure out what was going on because player reviews were almost unanimously positive, only for curators to issue mostly negative reviews for Brok the Investigator. Like every other indie developer, Cowcat has also received “tons” of game key requests before brokbut the company only provided them with limited-access prologue keys for the game, with the goal of giving full keys to curators who end up requesting them through legitimate channels.
According to Cowcat’s findings, malicious custodians never activate game keys provided by developers, but instead attempt to resell them through shady marketplaces like G2A. When the buyers of these keys realized that they didn’t get the full game keys, just the prologue, they probably complained to curator accounts (many of whom appear to be tied to a single admin) , who then ended up leaving negative reviews for Brok the Investigator to get revenge on Cowcat.
Thankfully, the wealth of evidence on the malicious activities and behaviors of these preservatives has come back to Valve, as they all appear to have been banned by now. Valve is taking a more proactive approach to ridding its platform of prima facie toxicity. Just recently, Steam removed dominatrix due to the developer’s transphobic rants in the patch notes, promising a better gaming environment for all users of the platform.
Of course, even though a whole host of extortionist curator accounts have now been taken down, Steam still has a huge problem when it comes to handling the feature. The Cowcat experiment was just one of the most prominent and visible examples of what was going on, and it would have been overlooked if the developer hadn’t taken matters into its own hands. Valve recognized the potential for abuse of this feature early on, with Steam curators having to leak mentions since 2015, but that’s clearly not the only issue with the system, and it remains to be seen if any systemic fixes are on the way. of elaboration.
Brok the Investigator is now available on PC.
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