Valve removes 173 'asset flipping games' from Steam

Entire portfolio of Silicon Echo Studios pulled, as well as associated accounts

By James Batchelor.Published Wednesday 27th September 2017, 8:38am GMT

In a major crackdown on what Valve refers to as 'fake games', the company has pulled one developer's complete catalogue from the Steam marketplace.

Silicon Echo Studios was found to be guilty of mass-producing 'asset flipping' games, meaning titles that have been cobbled together out of pre-made assets for popular game engine Unity. Polygon reports that 173 titles have been pulled from the store, reportedly the biggest single takedown in recent years.

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Asset flipping enables developers to produce and release games quicker than normal in an effort to expand their portfolio and store presence, as well as manipulate Steam's trading card economy - something Valve is attempting to curb by limiting the number of keys developers can request.

Silicon Echo was also bundling multiple games into its Steam Direct applications in order to avoid the $100 fee for every title, a charge introduced when the system launched earlier this year.

The company was allegedly selling games under the guise of Zonitron Productions as well. In total, the studio published 86 games in just July and August alone, accounting for 10% of the games released on Steam during those two months.

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The findings hark back to a report by SteamSpy's Sergey Galyonkin, which found that a flood of titles through Steam Direct has not improved the average earnings of independent developers. Galyonkin even noted that one publisher had muddied the results by releasing over 100 games - presumably, this was Silicon Echo.

In a statement to Polygon, Valve confirmed all the company's games have been removed and that it has "ended our business relationship with them."

"This person was mass-shipping nearly-identical products on Steam that were impacting the store's functionality and making it harder for players interested in finding fun games to play," the spokesperson said. "This developer was also abusing Steam keys and misrepresenting themselves on the Steam store.

The statement concluded: "The Steam platform is open, but we do ask developers to respect our customers and our policies. Spamming cloned games or manipulating our store tools isn't something we will tolerate. Our priority is helping players find games they will enjoy playing."

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