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Steam - publisher possibly manipulated user reviews, Valve throws all games from the shop (update: position of the publisher)

The publisher of Wild Buster has presumably manipulated Steam Reviews and has now been kicked off the online platform.

[Update 02/14/18 - 4:45 p.m.] Insel Games has now contacted GameStar and announced that they regret the incident. The email is genuine, but it was not intended as a threat to the employees. Wild Buster and Guardians of Ember should continue to be supported. The publisher has also contacted Steam and wants to clarify the incident:

"On the day of EA launch [early access] in December, an email was sent to everyone in the company (approximately 20 people including freelancers) about the importance of ratings in the Steam ecosystem and that Wild is a failure Buster would mean the company is in jeopardy. It should mobilize people's support, including promoting the game to family and friends, in the hopes of simply getting more reviews.

It was never intended to threaten anyone, just to show the importance of reviews for the whole company. No employee received fines for not purchasing the game or not writing a review. Texts or instructions for evaluations were never provided either. We apologize for the misleading wording in the email and in practice in general.

We, the entire team behind Insel Games, will continue to work to improve Guardians of Ember and Wild Buster while we continue to provide access to our games through other channels. We hope that through our future actions we can regain player trust and are in talks with Steam about this incident.

Until then, current Steam owners or owners of a Steam key can continue to play normally. "

Original message:
Valve has removed all games from the publisher Insel Games from the Steam shop and terminated all business relationships with the Malta-based company. Reason manipulated steam reviews. The allegation is that company employees wrote reviews of their own games.

A Reddit post got the ball rolling. An alleged email from the CEO of Insel Games appeared in the forum. In this communication to all employees, the manager states that their MMO-RPG, recently released in Early Access Wild Buster: Heroes of Titan has not met the sales expectations and so far there are hardly any reviews to be found on Steam. Since the first few days are the most important, the CEO advised employees to write a review:

"Of course, I can't force you to review (let alone what to write) - I shouldn't have to. But neglecting the importance of reviews will ultimately cost you jobs. If WB [Wild Busters ] fails, Island [Games] fails, IME [Interactive Media and Entertainment] fails, and then we won't all have a job next year, I'll ask you to do one of the following: Buy the game and put the receipt up for me Friday evening before, for which you will receive a refund (along with an application form) within 24 hours or explain to me tomorrow why you do not want that. "

Buyers still have access to Wild Buster and Co.

Valve did their own research shortly after the email became known and announced in a blog post today that they had also discovered some irregularities. Several reviews come from accounts controlled by Insel Games. According to Valve, this clearly became the Terms of use violated and the publisher has to leave Steam.

Players who own Insel Games games such as Wild Busters, World of Fishing or Guardians of Ember can still access them in their library. But it is no longer possible to buy Wild Busters and Co. on Steam. A search for the title leads to the start page. For an MMO-RPG, the Steam exclusion is likely to be a major setback.

Wild Buster: Heroes of Titan is an MMO-RPG with Hack'n'Slay and Moba elements. The game had been available in Korea for a long time.

Zero tolerance policy against fake reviews

The authenticity of the email has not yet been confirmed. Valve's own investigation, however, appears to be very clear-cut. We contacted Interactive Media and Entertainment (IME) who are working with Insel Games on some of their games as Co-publisher occurred and supported them. Insel Games itself did not respond to a request. IME works as a licensing agency, co-publisher and consultancy for online and mobile games. You are not directly involved in the incident, but know the publisher through their collaboration.

They question the truth of the email from their client Insel Games. The publisher only has a few dozen employees and therefore does not have the means to write masses of fake reviews. Maybe Valve has here acted rashlysays the company.

Valve had shown a zero tolerance policy towards fake reviews on several occasions in the past. All games from the developer of Platformica were removed from Steam in 2017 after it became known that the developer wrote some reviews himself and later also admitted his mistake. Art of Stealth suffered a similar fate. The creator quarreled with Youtuber Jim Sterling, who heavily criticized his game. It later emerged that the developer wrote reviews himself.

8:38 Steam's worst developer - Digital Homicide against the rest of the world

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