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Game developer revokes a user's Steam key after negative review

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Here's a case of how to definitely not deal with getting negative feedback. A developer of Depth of Extinction revoked a user's key after a negative review. Update: A statement from the developer.

Depth of Extinction is a game that went through itch's "First Access" program where they sold limited amounts of keys across various rounds. Like a lot of games that start off on itch.io, the developer promised a Steam key when the game makes into onto Valve's store. So to make matters worse, this was a user who helped fund them a little before the wider release.

You can see the Steam forum post here where the user talks about it, which is now locked by the developer which was made after they put up this user review on Steam. Looking at the short review, they're not even saying all that much and it sounds like a pretty honest post as well as remaining quite polite with their negative thoughts about it.

The reply the developer sent to the user, is a great example of how to not respond to players of your game who dislike certain aspects of it:

Sorry about that, but I thought I you weren't interested in playing the game. I would have loved to get your feedback during the First Access but I didn't see anything from you until the Steam review, which was a little confusing. I really don't see how you saw enough of the current version of the game to make the judgement call you did there since we made massive changes in the last few months that were all just on Steam.

I can get you another key if you are interested in playing more and perhaps providing some feedback on how we can improve the game.

As polite as the developer reply may seem, how could they have thought this would be a good idea? They did also apologise in a later post after. Since I actually quite like the game, it also stings a bit to see a developer I also supported do something like this. Thankfully, the situation is now resolved and the user does have access to it on Steam once again. Honestly though, I'm a little in shock that doing something like this would ever cross someone's mind.

I've given plenty of negative reviews in my time here and on Steam itself, I've later changed my mind on it especially in times when there's been a patch to improve things and this user could have done the same but that's not the point. This feels like an attempt to silence negative feedback to me, it doesn't sit right at all.

It does also bring up some interesting questions about how easy it is for developers to remove peoples access to their games. While it's a system that can help developers in certain situations, it's also a system that is quite obviously open to a bit of abuse. I do have to wonder what Valve think about this as well, so I've reached out to them for a comment and I will update this if they reply.

This does make another interesting case for DRM free games outside of Steam, since a developer can't just take away your ability to play it. While a DRM free store could remove the game from you, you're still able to fully back it up yourself.

Hat tip to madpinger for the info.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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79 comments
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ixnari 20 Oct, 2018
I love this bit:

QuoteI would have loved to get your feedback during the First Access but I didn't see anything from you until the Steam review, which was a little confusing.

What, does this mean that the devs have no use for feedback and criticism once it's past First/Early/whatever Access? Their whole message comes off as highly delusional. HOF Games needs a PR guy. Badly. In the meantime, I will be supporting more reasonable devs.
fabertawe 20 Oct, 2018
Quoting: Solitary
Quoting: EhvisI'm not saying there shouldn't be an option to have keys revoked that were not legally paid. But the dev there's no reason for a dev to be able to do that on their own.
And who else if not dev? Valve? How would Valve be able to recognize valid request? Most likely there is very specific TOS and agreement between dev and Valve how to use this feature and Valve will only intervene if abuse happens. This mistake was fixed rather quickly, so we did not have a chance to see how would it played out.

Yes, Valve and the valid request would come from the dev. The dev should not be able to revoke a Steam key by himself without first justifying it to Valve.
GustyGhost 20 Oct, 2018
Play DRM games, win DRM prizes.
Solitary 20 Oct, 2018
Quoting: fabertaweYes, Valve and the valid request would come from the dev. The dev should not be able to revoke a Steam key by himself without first justifying it to Valve.
And it will take a week and therefore be useless, or it's gonna take a moment, because noone will really properly check it out and be useless as well. The request probably goes through Valve, but I doubt the have any capacity to vet everything thoroughly. Valve trusting devs and only stepping in if issue arises makes more sense on this scale actually.
tonR 20 Oct, 2018
**How to destroy customers trust with one simple step**

And that's terrible ways to promote your business..
ageres 20 Oct, 2018
Imagine if a Windows user says something bad about Windows 10 on Twitter or elsewhere and then Microsoft revokes his Windows 10 license.
brandleesee 20 Oct, 2018
Quoting: fabertaweThe dev should not be able to revoke a Steam key by himself without first justifying it to Valve.

I completely second this. The dev is essentially representing the name of Valve. This would imply that its name is not tarnished by a developer making use of its game-distribution platform. Checks ought to be implemented to reign in abuse.
The_Aquabat 20 Oct, 2018
Even Gabe Newell knows that DRM is a bad thing, it doesn't add anything positive. Hope one day steam makes the move of being DRM free. But let's face it DRM is still there because devs and specially companies are control freak outs, publishers and devs won't be happy if steam removes DRM. This whole thing is a ethical problem and the same happens with linux distribution, between ethical and being able to play a mp3, I choose the second. Same happens with games, lots of games wouldn't exist if DRM was banned, but still I would be demanding for devs to remove DRM when possible.
And if someone removed a game from my library I would download the torrent, that's not stealing that's someone else stealing u.


Last edited by The_Aquabat on 20 October 2018 at 11:31 am UTC
Delicieuxz 20 Oct, 2018
If the person paid for the key and maybe even if they didn't, then that's called theft on the part of the game developer, and is no different than if somebody walks into your house and takes a physical possession that you have.

What property is and what taking another person's property is are things that are defined in law. And once an item passes its first-sale (don't know if that applies in this situation or not) then the seller no longer holds any authority over that item. Software licenses are also a property, and a seller or former possessor of a software license has no legal right to do anything to another person's software license once they have given it to someone else.

More information on that is in this post:

https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/953835-truth-you-own-the-software-that-you-purchase-and-any-claims-otherwise-are-urban-myth-or-corporate-propaganda/
The_Aquabat 20 Oct, 2018
Quoting: DelicieuxzIf the person paid for the key and maybe even if they didn't, then that's called theft on the part of the game developer, and is no different than if somebody walks into your house and takes a physical possession that you have.

What property is and what taking another person's property is are things that are defined in law. And once an item passes its first-sale (don't know if that applies in this situation or not) then the seller no longer holds any authority over that item. Software licenses are also a property, and a seller or former possessor of a software license has no legal right to do anything to another person's software license once they have given it to someone else.

More information on that is in this post:

https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/953835-truth-you-own-the-software-that-you-purchase-and-any-claims-otherwise-are-urban-myth-or-corporate-propaganda/

are you sure of that?? I thought that modifying a binary was illegal.

that linustechtips topic is surely an interesting read!


Last edited by The_Aquabat on 20 October 2018 at 11:57 am UTC
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