Valve has wiped all Steam user reviews from RosePortal Games' Epic Quest of the 4 Crystals, after it was discovered that the studio had offered free keys to incentivise its players.
The "promotion" started on September 25, and an official response to the practice was posted yesterday. According to Valve, RosePortal's actions represented a "manipulation" of the user review system, which plays a significant role in games being discovered on Steam's increasingly crowded storefront.
"Unfortunately, we cannot tell which reviews were manipulated in this way," Valve continued. "To preserve the integrity of user reviews on the product, we're deleting all user reviews to date. If you wish to repost your review, we welcome you to do so. We've emailed all affected customers and included a copy of their user review.
"Advertising laws in many countries require you to disclose any compensation for your review. If you received anything from a publisher or developer in exchange for a user review please say so in your review."
Valve has modified its policies around user reviews over the last year, largely as a response to its own community-focused strategy. In October last year, for example, the introduction of the Steam Discovery Update prompted this clarification on the responsibility of Curators:
"If you've accepted money or other compensation for making a product review or for posting a recommendation, you must disclose this fact in your recommendation."