The Gem Auction is now back online, with the exploit having been eradicated.
A new Steam initiative was launched and subsequently taken down over night after users apparently discovered a way to exploit the system and amass huge quantities of a bespoke online currency.
The Valve Steam Holiday Auction invited Steam customers to swap trading cards, backgrounds, emoticons and other community items for Steam gems, which could then be wagered in auctions for games on the online service. 100 copies each of nearly 2000 games were due to be auctioned to the highest gem bidders in this way, with auctions taking place hourly from December 15. Gems could also be used to create trading card booster packs.
However, not long after the program was launched, it was withdrawn. Steam users on Reddit quickly noticed that there had been some suspicious activity going on, with some users amassing seemingly impossible amounts of gems in a short space of time.
Now, the gems have disappeared, but the cards and, according to some reports, the cash, that was traded for them haven't reappeared. Consequently, many are calling for a roll-back which will return people's accounts and inventories to their previous states. So far, Valve has acknowledged the system's withdrawal but has yet to give an official explanation or an indication of whether it will return.
"Sorry, but there have been some issues with Gems and the Steam Holiday Auction has been temporarily closed," reads a statement on the Steam website. "The elves are working frantically to get the issues sorted out, and the auction will start again as soon as they're done."