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Abstractism removed from Steam store for 'cryptojacking'

Game disguised as indie platformer installed programs to mine cryptocurrency using players' computers

What kinds of games are allowed on Steam? Nothing illegal or trolling, nothing sexually explicit until controls are put in place, and as of this afternoon, no games that hijack your computer to mine cryptocurrency. Abstractism, a game that did the latter, has just been removed from Steam for that reason.

Though the game is no longer visible in the Steam store, our sister site Eurogamer reports that Abstractism appeared to be an innocent indie platformer. A look at the game's negative reviews, however, showed many users complaining about the game install including what seemed to be a Trojan virus and malware masquerading as steam.exe processes and a launcher. A deeper investigation from various players uncovered that the programs were crypto miners and were using the infected players' PCs to mine.

As accusations piled up, developer Okalo Union attempted to deflect criticism by saying that increased CPU and GPU usage (one of multiple signs of cryptocurrency mining) were the result of playing on high graphics settings, though a since-deleted post screenshotted by YouTuber SidAlpha shows the developer admitting that it used the game to mine Monero coins.

In addition, one user reported purchasing an in-game item for Abstractism on the Steam Community Market that used the same name, image, and description as a rare item in Team Fortress 2. Though the rocket launcher item was listed for the correct game, the use of assets from Team Fortress 2 proved deceptive enough to fool at least one person.

Upon these revelations, Abstractism was removed from Steam and its developer was banned from the platform.

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.