Valve's PC video game distribution platform, Steam, is seriously going after developers found manipulating their games' good reviews. In fact, the company recently confirmed that all titles developed and released by the studio Insel Games have been permanently removed from Steam for that reason.
The issue started from a Reddit post and a leaked screenshot of an email that was reportedly circulated among Insel Games employees. The email, which was dated Dec. 14, 2017, pointed out that Insel Games' titles were not doing so well in the market.
In the latter part of the email, it mentioned the company only had six reviews for one of its games and added that Insel Games had more than six employees. With that, the employees were asked to purchase games and then leave a comment online. Those who followed the instruction would be given a refund of the games' costs while others who had questions about the executives' request would have to go through a private consultation.
Because of this, Steam made the decision to remove Insel Games' titles and announced it via a community post penned by Valve release manager Jason Ruymen.
Ruymen began the post by saying they had learned about Insel Games' practice through the mentioned Reddit thread that explained how the studio manipulated its good reviews on Steam.
"We have investigated these claims, and have identified unacceptable behavior involving multiple Steam accounts controlled by the publisher of this game," Ruymen said.
He further explained that Insel Games "used multiple Steam accounts" to flood its games with good reviews which was "a clear violation" of the digital distribution platform's policies.
Meanwhile, a statement from Insel Games was provided to Polygon in which the studio claimed the email was not written to "threaten" its staff members and force them to submit good reviews. The studio also ensured that it did not impose sanctions on employees who did not respond to its call.
Insel Games did not directly deny asking its employees to manipulate its good reviews but said it did not give "instructions" on what to write on them.
"We sincerely apologize for the misleading wording in the email and the practice in general," Insel Games added.