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Valve refunding Earth: Year 2066 customers

Valve refunding Earth: Year 2066 customers

Tue 06 May 2014 2:36pm GMT / 10:36am EDT / 7:36am PDT
RetailMarketing

Early Access game pulled from sale on Steam for dishonest marketing tactics

Valve has halted Steam sales of the Early Access game Earth: Year 2066 and offered customers who purchased the game full refunds.

"On Steam, developers make their own decisions about promotion, features, pricing and publication," a Valve representative said on the game's community page. "However, Steam does require honesty from developers in the marketing of their games."

Earth: Year 2066 successfully made it through Steam's community-driven Greenlight process, but it quickly ran into criticism when it launched on Early Access. A Reddit poster detailed a number of troubling actions apparently taken by the game's developer, and sites like The Escapist and GameSpot took issue with the game's stage of development, suggesting it wasn't meeting an acceptable threshold even for an Early Access title.

On the game's Steam page, the developer described Earth: Year 2066 as "a first person sci-fi apocalyptic open-world game where your main aim is to survive. Set in post-apocalyptic future, you take on the role as a survivor of a nuclear war between USA and China. You became a mutant because of radiation. You need to get to the safe place, called 'GOD'S HOUSE' to survive. Dangerous journey is waiting for you. Earth: Year 2066 is inspired by Half-Life and Fallout."

Valve has pulled games from Steam after customer outrage before. In late 2012, Valve removed Hammerpoint Interactive's The War Z from the store, saying it went up for sale prematurely. While the Valve statement didn't specify deceptive marketing as the reason, players had loudly complained about promised features that were not present in the game. The War Z was eventually added back to the Steam store two months later.

7 Comments

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
Valve's early access program is in real danger of imploding. Too many of the early access games are being found to be blatant money grabs based on exaggeration and sometimes out right lies. Even well known devs seem to be getting in on it (anyone who plunged into Wastelands early on know's what I mean).

Now we have some devs just abandoning projects because they didn't get as much money as they thought. That, to me, shows that they thought it was a route to free money. It's like they can't see the consequences of their actions. If people can't trust the projects in early access then they will simply stop funding them. If games are constantly being abandoned even after being green lit, then people will stop buying green lit games or bothering to vote on the games in the green light list.

It's time for Valve to update it's early access rules and it's green light program. With early access there also needs to be some policing of the games being put up there. Something in alpha state (I wouldn't go by the developers description) should not be allowed at all.

Posted:2 months ago

#1

Bonnie Patterson
Freelance Narrative Designer

155 422 2.7
I suspect we won't be seeing Earth 2066 back on Steam in the same way War Z was: lot of allegations of outright fraud there, rather than just poor development

Posted:2 months ago

#2

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,483 1,252 0.8
@ Peter

Have you read about the brouhaha with Paranautical Activity? It's still unfolding, but it's an interesting addendum to what you're saying there. :)

Posted:2 months ago

#3

Neil Young
Programmer

269 294 1.1
@Peter - I'd say "alpha" would probably be OK, in the sense of "feature complete, but with issues". Finding a hard cutoff point would be tricky - you need to allow for titles that go on sale massively incomplete but still worth playing (minecraft, KSP), whilst insuring that titles that need to be completed get there.

I guess the key thing is that anyone who pays for early access gets their money's worth, either by the title being worth buying already, or getting there.

Posted:2 months ago

#4

Darren Adams
Managing Director

221 376 1.7
I am actually surprised that there aren't more of these 'Dishonest Development' cases, as some of the games Steam has put up recently as complete games probably shouldn't even be on Early Access. X Rebirth anyone??

One of our games is on Greenlight so I am interested to see how this pans out. We were looking at early access and know we can complete our project, but it would be good to see if Valve will be more careful with Early Access titles.

Slightly off topic, but I doubt it will matter soon as I think the end is in sight for Steam. I believe that they will open the floodgates like the appstore and leave it to manage itself within the next year or so.

Posted:2 months ago

#5

Ruben Monteiro
Engineer

64 131 2.0
I also have a title on Greenlight and I'm taking this essentially as a yellow card you get if your actual features are less than what you advertised.
Once you start selling it's best to only advertise what you have and keep the planned features to yourself until they're done. Vaporware is not good for you.
I believe that they will open the floodgates like the appstore and leave it to manage itself within the next year or so.
That's not really the problem. Ineffective data mining and search capability is.

Posted:2 months ago

#6

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,483 1,252 0.8
I believe that they will open the floodgates like the appstore and leave it to manage itself within the next year or so.
Whatever they do, it's likely that it'll be less Appstore, and more Ebay or Amazon Marketplace.

Valve have already gone on record as saying they believe that user-curated store-fronts are the way forward. It's only a small hop from there to more "professional" store-fronts - publisher/developer run stores (which is where I believe EA will return to Steam in a proper fashion); magazine/website curated store-fronts; even internet stores such as Zavvi.

And that's why all the WarZ/Earth: Year 2066/Paranautical Activity issues matter. Anything which reflects badly on Steam - whether it's false-advertising, misleading feature roadmaps, or developers abusing customers - will affect trust in the whole eco-system, and the whole brand. Amazon and Ebay/PayPal have arbitration schemes, and the penalties for falsely advertising/mis-selling products can be severe. Steam will need that kind of thing sooner than people think, because some developers/publishers are already abusing their "sales-pitches" (and customers) on the Steam platform.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 8th May 2014 1:03pm

Posted:2 months ago

#7

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