The other day, the developer of BROK the Investigator, Cowcat Games, published a thread about fraudulent Steam Curator Reviews, stating that these developers wrote negative reviews on the full release of their game without actually having played said game, possibly out of revenge. Recently, Valve seems to have banned a lot of these account, making them no longer searchable.
- Fraudulent Steam Curators have been an issue for a long time.
- Grey Sites are scams!
- The Aftermath…
- Some final thoughts…
In their thread, the solo developer states that they get spammed by a large amount of e-mails asking for review keys in the same fashion. A lot of these are sent in a similar format with e-mail accounts that look dubious. Furthermore, they sent out keys for the Prologue/Demo to those and barely anyone actually came back asking for other the full game.
The conclusion of said thread is that these Steam Curator accounts often will just copy+paste what other reviewers have said about the game. A lot of these accounts have a similar follower range, were created by the same admin on the same day, and they generally have only positive reviews but decided to negatively review BROK the Investigator despite not having actually bought the game.
Fraudulent Steam Curators have been an issue for a long time.
The issue that this poses is that Steam Curators don’t have to own the game in question to be able to write a review of it. In theory, this is because they could possibly play it on a different store front and/or platform and then review it on Steam.
Personally, I believe that this poses a rather big issue on Steam itself, especially in regards to fraudulent reviews. At the same time, though, it also can be a good thing as you don’t necessarily have to buy a game on Steam if you already own it on Epic Games, the Switch, or consoles.
Heck, I’m not proud of it but without having played the game, I wrote a negative review on Dinkum that states that there are a lot of issues with the game in regards to Erasure, references to colonialism, and other controversial topics.
Grey Sites are scams!
Back to the thread, Cowcat Games states that most of these keys handed out to curators will end up being resold on “grey sites” – namely G2A and others.
People can buy keys on here for dirt-cheap but those keys often end up having been purchased with stolen credit card information or through other means that aren’t exactly legal.
In the past, Indie developers have even stated that they’d rather have people pirate their games than them purchasing their games through G2A. Indie Devs don’t receive a cent through these, after all.
After noticing that they were sent Prologue keys, the aforementioned fraudulent Steam Curators have changed their review scores from positive to negative in an attempt of bombing the score despite the fact that Steam User Reviews have been positive overall. It appears to be some sort of revenge tactic – that backfired on the curators in question.
Reddit User u/darklinpower stated in a very good post that these developers appear to be scammers that could in fact be key resellers. There is a lot of proof over there that certainly indicates it.
And Valve appears to have banned these followers, even after some of them changed their review to positive without any real reason, as u/darklinpower’s follow-up post indicates.
Some final thoughts…
Overall, there are obviously a lot of fraudulent Steam Curators on Steam that pose a huge threat. Given that Valve didn’t release a statement, one can only assume that these 20 or so scammers may not even be the first or the only curators to have been removed from the site.
Yes, there are cases where curators are just meme sites, “Can you Pet the Dog?” and “Commander Shepheard”, for example, but there are also a lot of good curators that don’t use botted follower counts or that don’t resell keys… *cough* My page for instance *cough*
Developers should still be careful about who they send keys to. If you are developing a game, you should be the one to reach out. There are also companies like Stride PR that do an amazing job at working with curators and press to distribute keys without the risk of resellers appearing.
At the same time, I would recommend not utilizing sites like “Keymailer” as – according to publishers that I have been in contact with recently – those often end up being the first place that resellers look up for free money.