Steam 'Straight Up Trolled' Indie Game Wandersong

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Via Kotaku- “Wandersong is a side-scrolling rhythm adventure game that is—pardon my language—charming as all heck. Its combination of inventive mechanics and comedic, heartfelt writing have caused many to fall in love with it, myself included. And for five months Steam wasn’t sure it was a real game.

As part of Valve’s ongoing effort to weed out an infestation of “fake games” on Steam, it instituted a “confidence metric” that limits features like trading cards and achievements, both of which have been big breadwinners for sketchy developers, until Steam can algorithmically determine that a game’s the real deal.

In many cases, this takes a handful of days, if even that. But Wandersong has been out since September of last year, and until just a few minutes ago, if you checked its Steam page, you’d have find a little note that read “Steam is learning about this game” with a list of limited features.”

The issue behind this blunder is a bug that kept store pages from updating on Steam. What is concerning to me is that it took so long for the issue to be resolved. This has been an issue for the game since September, and there’s a possibility that other games where affected as well. If it weren’t for creator Greg Lobanov posting about the issue via Twitter, he may never have heard from Valve about resolving the issue, especially considering Valve wasn’t aware of the problem to begin with. At the very least, it wasn’t human judgement of the game being “straight up trolling” that was preventing the game from being featured on user’s profiles. It’s also interesting to note that the metrics used to evaluate games don’t include reviews and this could be in part to developers posting fake reviews to boost the status of the game. In terms of determining what will be allowed on the Steam Store, Valve released an announcement in September answering the question (somewhat):

On Steam, some are simply trying to rile people up with something we call "a game shaped object" (ie: a crudely made piece of software that technically and just barely passes our bar as a functioning video game but isn't what 99.9% of folks would say is "good"). Some trolls are trying to scam folks out of their Steam inventory items, others are looking for a way to generate a small amount of money off Steam through a series of schemes that revolve around how we let developers use Steam keys. Others are just trying to incite and sow discord. Trolls are figuring out new ways to be loathsome as we write this. But the thing these folks have in common is that they aren't actually interested in good faith efforts to make and sell games to you or anyone. When a developer's motives aren't that, they're probably a troll.

Our review of something that may be "a troll game" is a deep assessment that actually begins with the developer. We investigate who this developer is, what they've done in the past, their behavior on Steam as a developer, as a customer, their banking information, developers they associate with, and more. All of this is done to answer the question "who are we partnering with and why do they want to sell this game?" We get as much context around the creation and creator of the game and then make an assessment. A trend we're seeing is that we often ban these people from Steam altogether instead of cherry-picking through their individual game submissions. In the words of someone here in the office: "it really does seem like bad games are made by bad people."

Luckily for Wandersong, it seems that the bug has been fixed and is now able to be realized as a fully-fledged game.