Valve continues to tinker with Steam by announcing its next step in cracking down against the "fake games" in the online store.
While Steam allows gamers to purchase a long list of top-quality titles for the PC, the online store is also filled with games of questionable quality. Valve previously revealed that it will look to purge Steam of these titles, and it is now moving forward with that goal.
Developers Abuse Steam Trading Cards
Steam Trading Cards, a feature that was launched in 2013, allows gamers to collect cards from playing games on Steam. The cards can then be used to collect customization options for user accounts and earn coupons that can be used to purchase more games from Steam.
Unfortunately, the system has been abused by developers looking to make a quick buck.
Valve did not expect that Steam Trading Cards would become so popular that the cards would eventually carry economic values for players who are looking to complete sets for their favorite games. This economic opportunity is what invited "bad actors" to take advantage of it by releasing "fake games," or games that have really bad quality, into Steam.
The fake developers, as Valve narrated on a Steam Blog post, uploaded their games to the online store and then generated thousands of Steam keys. The developers then handed the keys to bots with Steam accounts who play the fake games with the sole purpose of collecting trading cards.
The result is that the developers are able to make money by selling the trading cards that bots farm from playing their fake games.
Valve To Make Changes To Steam Trading Cards
It has become very difficult to keep up with shady developers on Steam, so Valve started to look at ways to fight back. But why should it address the problem in the first place, when Valve even makes money from trading card transactions?
The problem with fake developers and fake games is that it mucks up Steam's algorithm, which analyzes data to decide which games should be shown to players. With bots farming trading cards while playing fake games, there is the risk that they will be suggested to players as the algorithm will think that they really are popular titles.
Valve believed that preventing developers from creating Steam keys for their games is not the solution, as it is a popular feature among legitimate developers and players. Such a move might not also work, as the developers may still be able to get the fake games into bots through another way to continue farming for trading cards.
The proposed solution to the problem is to implement a "confidence metric" on Steam games. Titles will only start dropping trading cards once it is clear that it is really being bought and played by customers.
The confidence metric uses data geared toward finding out which are fake games and which are the legitimate ones. Compared to Greenlight, which failed to successfully purge Steam of fake games and soon to be replaced by Steam Direct, the new metric uses much more data on player behavior and their interactions with games.
The change in how Steam Trading Cards are earned may not completely solve the problem, but it is a step in the right direction for Valve.