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Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews

A statement from Valve from last week announces another developer banned from Steam for review shenanigans (thanks PCGamesN). In February, Valve dropped Insel Games for self-reviewing, and now Grzegorz Kubas is being punished for "trying to inflate the user review score for his titles." Here's word:

We've received a number of reports for Steam review manipulation on the titles Steam: Rails to Riches and Eight-Minute Empire, from Acram Digital. After investigating these reports we have found that the developer, Grzegorz Kubas, has been trying to inflate the user review score for his titles. This is against our policy, and something we take very seriously.

Because of Grzegorz's actions, we have removed all games/DLC developed by Acram from our store, and will no longer be doing business with him. Existing owners will be able to keep their titles.

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20. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 12, 2018, 10:35 RedEye9
 
Cutter wrote on May 11, 2018, 09:57:
I've been banned from certain game forums ..
We're all surprised & shocked, there is no way it was deserved. NOT Sleeping

 
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19. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 18:21 Beamer
 
Sepharo wrote on May 11, 2018, 18:14:
Beamer wrote on May 11, 2018, 15:34:
Sorry, didn't mean for it to be contentious. I haven't discussed it much, at least that I remember, here. It was more I didn't want Cutter to have another thing to incorrectly dive into.

I was dreading the ACTUALLY 'splaining.
I trigger a bit when people tell me things I already know, but I suppose you're providing a service for anyone that doesn't
... I didn't call the guy a reviewer. Just wanted to point out that it wasn't a situation where the developer messed up and it was truly about someone unable to accomplish the basics. They originally uploaded the video as a laugh but then everyone freaked out about "how can he review it if he blah blah blah" ... oh god now I'm doing it!

A combination of not knowing what people have discussed before, but also the standard thing on the internet that sometimes you're adding detail for other people but it comes across like you think the original person is confused. Happens even when agreeing sometimes.

Again, didn't mean it that way, so yeah, apologies if I worded poorly. And apologies for when I inevitably do it again in the future, haha.
 
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18. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 18:14 Sepharo
 
Beamer wrote on May 11, 2018, 15:34:
Sorry, didn't mean for it to be contentious. I haven't discussed it much, at least that I remember, here. It was more I didn't want Cutter to have another thing to incorrectly dive into.

I was dreading the ACTUALLY 'splaining.
I trigger a bit when people tell me things I already know, but I suppose you're providing a service for anyone that doesn't
... I didn't call the guy a reviewer. Just wanted to point out that it wasn't a situation where the developer messed up and it was truly about someone unable to accomplish the basics. They originally uploaded the video as a laugh but then everyone freaked out about "how can he review it if he blah blah blah" ... oh god now I'm doing it!
 
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17. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 16:01 Slashman
 
Cutter, seriously man. I played Titan Quest from start to end and the expansion. That was no fault of the developer.

And including characters with certain viewpoints in a game has NOTHING to do with the gameplay, graphics, interface etc of the game. Only, at best, the story of the game. How is giving a game a negative review in any way or form fair based on that single point alone? Or ANY single point alone actually, unless its a game breaking bug/mechanic?

Someone made a Chinese translation mod for Endless Legend and then violated the forum rules on Steam by pointing to pirated content. He was then banned and his mod removed. Chinese users then began review bombing the game, based on nothing more than the bad behavior of someone who had nothing to do with the game or its development. Is that fair to you? If your answer is yes, then maybe you need to do some soul searching.
 
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16. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 15:34 Beamer
 
Sepharo wrote on May 11, 2018, 13:24:
Beamer wrote on May 11, 2018, 11:14:
Sepharo wrote on May 11, 2018, 11:03:
Cutter wrote on May 11, 2018, 09:57:
Or simply not being able to play the game, like this infamous review for Cuphead, where the reviewer wasnt familiar with basic platformer mechanics. Or using a controller. Or both.

How is that not fair? A person shouldn't have to be an experienced gamer to try a game and understand how it works - at a basic level - inside of 10 minutes. Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required and the game isn't suited to new gamers, it's fair criticism.

It doesn't always make sense to be contrarian... The guy he's talking about was stuck in the tutorial level that was literally teaching him how to play the game.

Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required

And he's not saying "he wasn't using a controller" but rather, he didn't know how to use a controller.

It's an extreme example but there really are some folks who lack the most basic of basics, that's not the fault of the developer. The Cuphead tutorial was far more detailed than normal even.

The guy stuck in the tutorial wasn't a reviewer, and it wasn't a review. He was a tech guy at an event, and he recorded it. Honestly, I don't get why people cared so much. It was a preview from a guy who was there for different genres, posted in part because his colleagues found it amusing and in part because maybe people did want to see Cuphead, even if a guy that sucks at platforming was playing it.

Again, it wasn't a review, and never did the guy say "man, this game sucks, you made it too hard!"

Jesus yes we don't need to reiterate this entire non-scandal again. People definitely blew it up, I was replying to Cutter misunderstanding the example in his effort to never be wrong.

Sorry, didn't mean for it to be contentious. I haven't discussed it much, at least that I remember, here. It was more I didn't want Cutter to have another thing to incorrectly dive into.
 
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15. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 13:24 Sepharo
 
Beamer wrote on May 11, 2018, 11:14:
Sepharo wrote on May 11, 2018, 11:03:
Cutter wrote on May 11, 2018, 09:57:
Or simply not being able to play the game, like this infamous review for Cuphead, where the reviewer wasnt familiar with basic platformer mechanics. Or using a controller. Or both.

How is that not fair? A person shouldn't have to be an experienced gamer to try a game and understand how it works - at a basic level - inside of 10 minutes. Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required and the game isn't suited to new gamers, it's fair criticism.

It doesn't always make sense to be contrarian... The guy he's talking about was stuck in the tutorial level that was literally teaching him how to play the game.

Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required

And he's not saying "he wasn't using a controller" but rather, he didn't know how to use a controller.

It's an extreme example but there really are some folks who lack the most basic of basics, that's not the fault of the developer. The Cuphead tutorial was far more detailed than normal even.

The guy stuck in the tutorial wasn't a reviewer, and it wasn't a review. He was a tech guy at an event, and he recorded it. Honestly, I don't get why people cared so much. It was a preview from a guy who was there for different genres, posted in part because his colleagues found it amusing and in part because maybe people did want to see Cuphead, even if a guy that sucks at platforming was playing it.

Again, it wasn't a review, and never did the guy say "man, this game sucks, you made it too hard!"

Jesus yes we don't need to reiterate this entire non-scandal again. People definitely blew it up, I was replying to Cutter misunderstanding the example in his effort to never be wrong.
 
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14. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 12:45 Steele Johnson
 
Im surprised that in 2018, people still read written game reviews. Geeze, there are dozens of great youtube reviewers, who actually walk you through the good and the bad without spoilers. Why anyone would base a purchase on a written review these days is beyond me. Just go watch some gameplay and make your own decision! Is it really that difficult? lol  
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13. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 11:14 Beamer
 
Sepharo wrote on May 11, 2018, 11:03:
Cutter wrote on May 11, 2018, 09:57:
Or simply not being able to play the game, like this infamous review for Cuphead, where the reviewer wasnt familiar with basic platformer mechanics. Or using a controller. Or both.

How is that not fair? A person shouldn't have to be an experienced gamer to try a game and understand how it works - at a basic level - inside of 10 minutes. Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required and the game isn't suited to new gamers, it's fair criticism.

It doesn't always make sense to be contrarian... The guy he's talking about was stuck in the tutorial level that was literally teaching him how to play the game.

Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required

And he's not saying "he wasn't using a controller" but rather, he didn't know how to use a controller.

It's an extreme example but there really are some folks who lack the most basic of basics, that's not the fault of the developer. The Cuphead tutorial was far more detailed than normal even.

The guy stuck in the tutorial wasn't a reviewer, and it wasn't a review. He was a tech guy at an event, and he recorded it. Honestly, I don't get why people cared so much. It was a preview from a guy who was there for different genres, posted in part because his colleagues found it amusing and in part because maybe people did want to see Cuphead, even if a guy that sucks at platforming was playing it.

Again, it wasn't a review, and never did the guy say "man, this game sucks, you made it too hard!"
 
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http://www.deathwishinc.com
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12. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 11:03 Sepharo
 
Cutter wrote on May 11, 2018, 09:57:
Or simply not being able to play the game, like this infamous review for Cuphead, where the reviewer wasnt familiar with basic platformer mechanics. Or using a controller. Or both.

How is that not fair? A person shouldn't have to be an experienced gamer to try a game and understand how it works - at a basic level - inside of 10 minutes. Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required and the game isn't suited to new gamers, it's fair criticism.

It doesn't always make sense to be contrarian... The guy he's talking about was stuck in the tutorial level that was literally teaching him how to play the game.

Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required

And he's not saying "he wasn't using a controller" but rather, he didn't know how to use a controller.

It's an extreme example but there really are some folks who lack the most basic of basics, that's not the fault of the developer. The Cuphead tutorial was far more detailed than normal even.
 
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11. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 10:04 eRe4s3r
 
Muscular Beaver wrote on May 11, 2018, 05:19:
Cutter wrote on May 10, 2018, 23:49:
How is a review unfair? Unfair because it's bad? Welcome to life, sport.
Some people actually lie in their reviews.

And all it takes is 1 developer response to show that, we can read the whole review with dev response after all.

Fake reviews were always punished extremely both on Amazon and on Steam.
 
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10. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 09:57 Cutter
 
Kajetan wrote on May 11, 2018, 05:08:
A review can be unfair, when it's not criticizing the game on the basis of the game itself, but for example on the political stance of the reviewer (e.g. "too much SJW in the effin game").

And that sort of criticism is completely fair. I'm not buying a game for you to espouse you political point of view. If that's what you did, then yeah, it's going to get slammed.

Or on the basis of a fundamental misconception of the intended game design (this shooter is a horrible RTS)

You can't fix stupid. And if it isn't clear what your game is to begin with that's your own damn fault.

Or overlooking basic features. An example for the latter was a "professional" review for Titan Quest from a magazine, where the reviewer hated the game for walking great distances to the last village/merchant and back again. He simply overlooked the teleport feature, ignored the NPC in the starter village explaining this feature, overlooked the big shiny, noisy round thing right next to him.

Well than it really wasn't self-evident, was it? I can't even count the number of games where this is an issue. You play through half of it before you find out that you can do XYZ. That's poor design. So yet again, completely fair to criticize.

Or simply not being able to play the game, like this infamous review for Cuphead, where the reviewer wasnt familiar with basic platformer mechanics. Or using a controller. Or both.

How is that not fair? A person shouldn't have to be an experienced gamer to try a game and understand how it works - at a basic level - inside of 10 minutes. Unless the devs definitely state that a controller is required and the game isn't suited to new gamers, it's fair criticism.

There really is a thing like an unfair review. And instead of faking positive reviews to "balance the score", Valve should give developers the possibility to respond to any Steam review. Like "I am sorry that you didnt like our game, but have you tried X or Y?" Then Valve can end all business with certain devlopers for insulting reviewers

Devs can respond to any review they like. I've been banned from certain game forums for panning a game from hyper-sensitive devs. So what about that? They're allowed to skew results by outright banning people and shutting down all dissent. The assholes who did The Long Dark are notorious for that. They were banning people left, right, and center for any hint of criticism. And the game is a complete POS. So no, there is no such thing as an unfair review with the sole exception if you lie outright and actually haven't played the game at all, and you can't do that on Steam anyway. Shifting blame is what people who do poorly do. It's everyone else's fault but theirs. Rolleyes


 
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9. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 09:11 Beamer
 
Let's be honest, there's a lot of entitlement in video gaming. I'd absolutely argue more than other hobbies. Hell, even here, where we have a pretty mature and intelligent community, we still get people popping into threads to let you know they hate a developer for something he did 15 years ago and therefore he deserves to die via asphyxiation on genitals.

So yeah, Steam reviews are regularly full of people who just say "this dev sucks, this game is the worst thing ever made, so dumb, lulz!" Often from someone with like 10 minutes in the game (though I think Steam stopped allowing that.)

If you worked really hard on a game and genuinely feel it's a solid effort, I can see why you think those reviews are unfair. On the other hand, they're often totally fair and warranted, and just because a dev feels he put in his best effort doesn't mean the game is worthy of the price, or even anyone's time.

All that said... "Insel Games, lulz!"
 
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8. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 08:59 ududy
 
If a game is not a total wreck, there will likely be enough potential fans to balance bad/troll reviews. In that case the developer needs to invest in marketing. And developers can reply to each review with their point of view - reviews that get a developer reply are even emphasized in the review browsing interface. There's no need for special protections.  
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7. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 08:31 panbient
 
Cutter wrote on May 10, 2018, 23:49:
How is a review unfair?

Guess it depends on the games you check out. But I've seen plenty of 'negative' reviews that boil down to either:

"the game doesn't run on my junky old computer so it's horrible (because I don't understand minimum technical specs and the refund system)"

or

"this super old game from years ago has clunky UI and doesn't play nice in 4k and developer support (from a company that hasn't existed in well over a decade) is non-existent"

Neither of those are valid reviews in my eyes, and if you get a bunch of that skewing your overall score and leaving your product with a Mixed reputation at best I can understand why it would be frustrating and something that should (ideally) be addressed.

Maybe Valve could implement some sort of review validation option for developers. Let them flag questionable or irrelevant reviews that impact their product unfairly. And if the devs act like the trolls and try to ban any sort of objective critique then they get banned too.
 
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6. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 05:19 Muscular Beaver
 
Cutter wrote on May 10, 2018, 23:49:
How is a review unfair? Unfair because it's bad? Welcome to life, sport.
Some people actually lie in their reviews.
 
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5. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 11, 2018, 05:08 Kajetan
 
Cutter wrote on May 10, 2018, 23:49:
How is a review unfair? Unfair because it's bad? Welcome to life, sport.
A review can be unfair, when it's not criticizing the game on the basis of the game itself, but for example on the political stance of the reviewer (e.g. "too much SJW in the effin game").

Or on the basis of a fundamental misconception of the intended game design (this shooter is a horrible RTS)

Or overlooking basic features. An example for the latter was a "professional" review for Titan Quest from a magazine, where the reviewer hated the game for walking great distances to the last village/merchant and back again. He simply overlooked the teleport feature, ignored the NPC in the starter village explaining this feature, overlooked the big shiny, noisy round thing right next to him.

Or simply not being able to play the game, like this infamous review for Cuphead, where the reviewer wasnt familiar with basic platformer mechanics. Or using a controller. Or both.

There really is a thing like an unfair review. And instead of faking positive reviews to "balance the score", Valve should give developers the possibility to respond to any Steam review. Like "I am sorry that you didnt like our game, but have you tried X or Y?" Then Valve can end all business with certain devlopers for insulting reviewers
 
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4. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 10, 2018, 23:49 Cutter
 
How is a review unfair? Unfair because it's bad? Welcome to life, sport.
 
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3. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 10, 2018, 23:34 necrosis
 
jdreyer wrote on May 10, 2018, 21:12:
I wonder how they caught him.
Logging and tracing IP's of the posts.
 
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2. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 10, 2018, 22:44 Chris Taylor
 
He came clean on Boardgamegeek:

Dear Players,

You are right. I'm guilty. It came from my frustration of few bad, unfair reviews on Valve's Steam only. It was stupid action, not something planned. This is my individual, bad behavior, not the team, so I would like to blame me, not the devs. It's a lesson for the rest of my life and it will not happen again, ever.

In addition, I would like to inform, there were no fake reviews on AppStore, Google Play, Amazon, ever. Every single review is true and most of them are positive.
We have NEVER paid for any positive reviews. It was only my 6 fake accounts on Steam, done in amateur way, from the same computer, the same method of payment, the same IP. I was very frustrated.

We have great developers, passionate in board games. They work very hard to deliver quality games. We listen to the players and we have implemented the features they asked for.

We have sent the email to Valve regarding this issue and we are waiting for the answer.

Blame me, not the devs please.

I'm very sorry,
Grzegorz Kubas
 
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1. Re: Another Developer Banned for Fake Steam Reviews May 10, 2018, 21:12 jdreyer
 
I wonder how they caught him.  
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