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

Posted by , | Views: 150,477

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.

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79 comments
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F.Ultra 20 October 2018 at 3:10 pm UTC
ixnariI 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.

I might read this completely wrong but my take from it is that the devs claim that the user reviewed the first access version of the game but since he put it on steam it looks like a review of the final version.
liamdawe 20 October 2018 at 3:49 pm UTC
Just to add, as further evidence of this, here's my own purchase details: https://imgur.com/a/gmJuBfg

Notice I personally purchased it on itch like I said, my Steam key given was also from a "beta" batch.
psycho_driver 20 October 2018 at 3:52 pm UTC
CybolicEDIT: I believe most of this was sorted out with the DRM systems in place for home medias (DVDs and BluRays); ie. you bought the thing, you have the right to modify it to make sure you can actually use it.

To this day, fuck the Bluray Consortium. Its their own friggin fault Kodi w/ shady plugins is such a big thing now.
madpinger 20 October 2018 at 3:52 pm UTC
SolitaryI don't think games bought directly on Steam are revokable. This key was beta key he got directly from the dev as part of the Itch.io deal.

madpingerIt even makes me wonder if there are games I have that are no longer there and I'm simply unaware of it honestly.
Most likely no games are missing. You might have not noticed, but someone else would. Don't make it bigger deal than it is.

Of course, most likely none are missing, but I'm not making it a bigger deal than it is. Don't be so dismissive of others concern. It is a perfectly valid and fair statement.
psycho_driver 20 October 2018 at 3:55 pm UTC
rkfgI participated in a closed beta test of one game, the dev sent the keys to activate the game on Steam. After the test and before the actual release they were revoked. I see this as a completely legit practice, they gave it for free and took it away later. There's no way for Steam to know if the key was paid for or just given away, maybe for a limited time so I don't see why this should be explicitly disabled for all developers. Of course, if it was a paid key that's been revoked just like this it's unacceptable but it's the first such case and it must be settled with Steam support and legal means. After all, that's not the only way the dev could scam the customers, they can ban them in-game using Steam IDs or remove the game for everybody (push empty depots or such). It's not possible to prevent this reliably.

I've had it happen three ways with beta testing. Sometimes the devs just give you full access to the final copy (Skullgirls and a couple of others). I've had one revoke the keys before they released which I was fine with. I actually felt a little guilty in that case because I hadn't done a whole lot of testing, one play session for an hour or so. I also have some cases where they just leave the beta in the steamdb and the full release is a different product id, so I still have access to the beta but not the full product.
liamdawe 20 October 2018 at 4:00 pm UTC
Guest
liamdaweJust to add, as further evidence of this, here's my own purchase details: https://imgur.com/a/gmJuBfg

Notice I personally purchased it on itch like I said, my Steam key given was also from a "beta" batch.

Then the developer has fucked up - retail keys should be marked as such. This does not however prove malicious intent whatsoever, which is what you are claiming.
As already argued on Reddit, the developer already fully admitted fault. Arguing against what has already been said in public is silly.
liamdawe 20 October 2018 at 4:06 pm UTC
Guest
liamdawe
Guest
liamdaweJust to add, as further evidence of this, here's my own purchase details: https://imgur.com/a/gmJuBfg

Notice I personally purchased it on itch like I said, my Steam key given was also from a "beta" batch.

Then the developer has fucked up - retail keys should be marked as such. This does not however prove malicious intent whatsoever, which is what you are claiming.
As already argued on Reddit, the developer already fully admitted fault. Arguing against what has already been said in public is silly.

Yet you are portraying it as deliberate malicious intent when you have no proof of that whatsoever, apart from the posting of a guy who was obviously pissed off that his key had been revoked, and assumed it was due to his negative review.

edit: Moreover, this is not a Linux issue - other than the fact that the game has a Linux build, the poster hasnt even mentioned Linux.
Do you not have your glasses on or something? The developer email reply literally explained it was due to the review.

Keep arguing blindly against it all you like, the developer agreed and admitted the fault was their own.

Edit: To be clear on something, "malicious intent" is not something I said in the article. I portrayed it exactly as it is.

Also, let's be clear something. The user was obviously targeted. How else would they have known that specific key was for that specific review on Steam? Their own email admits that and they didn't refute it, not even one tiny bit. If it was a case of removing beta keys, why didn't anyone else get theirs removed? Why didn't mine? And so on. To argue that this wasn't intentional is madness.

Edit 2: And now they've deleted their account and comments so it looks like I'm arguing with myself, happy Saturday,


Last edited by liamdawe at 20 October 2018 at 9:16 pm UTC
Expalphalog 20 October 2018 at 4:15 pm UTC
Well, there's one game to take off my wishlist. It was getting too long anyway.
Eike 20 October 2018 at 4:45 pm UTC
GuestTo follow up what I've said on Reddit - bollocks. Read the Steam forum. The key was revoked as the developer thought it was a regular betatest key and revoked it as the beta expired. When it turned out it wasn't they corrected the mistake. You are portraying this as more than it is. No doubt you will censor this post.

GuestYet you are portraying it as deliberate malicious intent when you have no proof of that whatsoever, apart from the posting of a guy who was obviously pissed off that his key had been revoked, and assumed it was due to his negative review.

Don't you think if the developers would have revoked it as a beta key, they would have stated in this very thread?
https://steamcommunity.com/app/636320/discussions/0/1730963192539840617/
And you're implying the user citing the developer's email with "Sorry about that, but I thought I you weren't interested in playing the game." is simply lying to us, again without the developers saying so, right?

Guestedit: Moreover, this is not a Linux issue - other than the fact that the game has a Linux build, the poster hasnt even mentioned Linux.

Would you allow us to look over the fence?


Last edited by Eike at 20 October 2018 at 4:47 pm UTC
TheSyldat 20 October 2018 at 4:52 pm UTC
Eike
Guestedit: Moreover, this is not a Linux issue - other than the fact that the game has a Linux build, the poster hasnt even mentioned Linux.
Would you allow us to look over the fence?

Welp I held off from biting on this one but looks like I was not the only one being annoyed
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