Earlier this week, indie developer Cowcat accused several Steam curators of trying to rip it off with free codes. (opens in a new tab) for his game, Brok the InvestiGator, then posting negative reviews after realizing the codes were actually for a free demo.
This “review revenge” tactic seems to have backfired. Three days after a Twitter thread and Reddit post drawing attention to the seemingly false reviews gained traction, all of the curators in question have been banned by Valve.
Darklinkpower, Reddit user, the author of the enlightening article (opens in a new tab) who linked the nine-page critics of suspicious conservatives to an administrator account, posted a follow-up (opens in a new tab) noting that all curator pages they investigated are now offline. Clicking on a direct link to one of the curator’s pages now redirects to the same message: “This group has been removed for violating the Steam Community Rules and Guidelines.”
In addition to the nine pages that posted negative reviews of Brok, darklinkpower also noticed 11 other curators caught up in this wave of bans. Most of these banned pages had fairly generic names like One To Ten Reviews, Just Review It, Quality Detector, and my favorite, Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit. It’s possible other scam curators were banned last night, but it’s hard to tell unless you already know which pages to check. When Valve bans a curator, they are no longer viewable on Steam.
The extent of this apparent curator scam problem is unclear. While it’s apparently just as easy to artificially inflate your subscriber count (possibly with bots), use your subscribers as leverage to get free game codes and then sell them online, how many pages post reviews of games they haven’t even played?
I hope the most popular curator pages on Steam are legit (PC Gamer curator page (opens in a new tab) is among them), and you know what you get from funny gadget curators like Commander Shepherd calling everything his “favorite game on Steam”, (opens in a new tab) but Valve’s silent action here makes me curious how often it hands out similar bans and how many other scammers are out there.
Valve has made no official comment on the curator’s bans. I have reached out for more information and will update if we hear anything back.