In another incident, that involves fraudulent cryptocurrency based activities, an indie game was recently delisted from Steam, a popular gaming platform under the Valve Corporation. As these types of fraudulent activities, a.k.a “cryptojacking” are on the rise, Steam has swiftly removed the game from all its platforms for the time being, as reported by Motherboard.
Allegedly, the game Abstractism, was involved in some kind of cryptojacking. This refers to the usage of a computer’s CPU or other resources to mine cryptocurrencies without the owner’s knowledge or consent. According to other members of the gaming community, red flags were raised quite some time ago, mainly concerning Abstractism’s questionable business model and in-game rewarding system. For instance, multiple users started complaining when they suspected that the game was running some covert processes in the background. Players also complained about slow GPU and CPU speeds while gaming.
Some of the questionable decisions that Abstractism made since its launch included a bonus program rewarding users if they kept the game running when they were not actively playing. Others also leveled allegations of plagiarism, including copying in-game items from another game on the platform, Team Fortress 2 raised severe doubts in the community.
Amid such community-wide speculations, a YouTube user named SidAlpha noticed that the game is using a significantly large amount of resources, more than required for such a resource-friendly small game. Not to mention that the game also triggered malware alerts on several users’ systems, prompting Steam to take a closer look at the game.
The independent game was developed by Okalo Union, which vehemently denies any involvement in cryptocurrency scams. According to an official post from the team on Steam’s community forum, “Abstractism does not mine any of cryptocurrency. Probably, you are playing on high graphics settings, because they take a bit of CPU and GPU power, required for post-processing effects rendering.”
This response was not enough to convince the community that nothing was amiss. A decision was finally reached on July 30th, when the Valve Corporation decided to delist the game from its Steam platform.
Valve took swift action, saying, “we have removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling, and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items.”
As it stands, the game is completely removed from the Steam marketplace, and thorough checks have been made for other existing projects on the platform. With instances like cryptojacking on the rise, customers have to be self-reliant and vigilant. The Valve Corporation’s own stance against cryptocurrencies has been mixed, with the company allowing Bitcoin payments in 2016, only to remove the option in December of last year. Regulatory uncertainty in the area of cryptocurrency leaves a lot of room for nefarious actors to operate in legally and morally dubious areas. Ultimately, the onus in this instance is seeming to fall on Steam. Time will tell what, if any action, Steam will take to prevent this from happening again.