Valve severed all connections with Insel Games and took down the developer's whole library from Steam, after evidence surfaced that the company's CEO forced employees to leave fake reviews for its own games.
Insel Games, based in Malta, has been banned from Steam after the incident was described by Valve as "unacceptable behavior" involving Steam review manipulation.
Insel Games CEO Forced Employees To Leave Fake Reviews On Steam
It all started with a thread on the official Steam subreddit, where a user uploaded a screenshot of an email sent by Insel Games CEO Patrick Streppel to the company's employees. In the email, Streppel implied that there will be negative consequences if the employees do not purchase and submit a review for Wild Buster, the latest title by Insel Games.
"Sadly Wild Buster's revenue has so far not met expectations and it will be even more difficult to turn things around during the weekend as the first day is usually the strongest," Streppel wrote, noting that there were only six reviews for the game at the time. He further added that if workers don't buy the game and submit a review, they all might have no jobs next year.
Streppel gave employees two options. They should buy Wild Buster which will be reimbursed within 24 hours, and leave a review on Steam, or they will have to personally explain to the CEO why they do not want to do it.
The email, which was sent on Dec. 14, resulted in a spike of positive Steam reviews for Wild Buster. The reviews are presumably from Insel Games employees, which is a direct violation of Valve's guidelines that prohibits developer and publishers to plant fake reviews for their own games.
In a post on the Steam page for Wild Buster, Valve said that according to its investigations, the company did indeed use multiple accounts to give favorable reviews for its own games.
"For these reasons, we are ending our business relationship with Insel Games Ltd. and removing their games from our store," the post said.
Insel Games Responds To Steam Ban
Streppel told Kotaku that he indeed sent out the email, but in a statement, said that the message was meant to rally for support from its employees to advertise Wild Buster to family and friends for more reviews.
Streppel said that it will appeal the decision by Valve, as the company never threated any of its employees or gave penalties for not purchasing Wild Buster and leaving a review.
In any case, while Insel Games remains banned from Steam, customers who have already purchased their titles will still be able to play them.