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

Posted by , | Views: 146,096

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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80 comments
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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
Samsai 20 October 2018 at 4:53 pm UTC
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.

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.
Can you just admit you are wrong for once and politely get out? You are clearly just trying to instigate anger here, again, just to feed your sad sad desire to be on the receiving end of vitriol.
GustyGhost 20 October 2018 at 4:55 pm UTC
Cyril
chancho_zombieEven 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.

Yeah, but now the MP3 format is open!

Yes, I was just going to say the patents finally expired a few months ago.
Cestarian 20 October 2018 at 4:57 pm UTC
EhvisIt should not even be possible for a dev to revoke keys. Revoking a legally paid key is theft. There's just no other way to look at it.
companies do it all the time if a player does something like say cheating in a game. I quite agree with you though.


Last edited by Cestarian at 20 October 2018 at 4:58 pm UTC
poiuz 20 October 2018 at 5:07 pm UTC
Delicieuxz[…]
Let's quickly wrap up this off-topic discussion: The GPLv2/v3 are in conformance with the law in the EU & the USA. They have undergone legal scrutiny in courts (GPL Enforcement Cases) and the rights can also be revoked (e.g. Busybox vs Best Buy + 13 other companies (2009-2012)).

DelicieuxzMany publishers write digital licenses knowing that they don't count for much beyond their psychological influence to invoke or prevent certain end-user behaviours - which is something publishers still consider to be valuable.
Of course, I'm not questioning that. I'm simply stating that there are legal reasons to revoke a license.


Last edited by poiuz at 20 October 2018 at 5:09 pm UTC
Scoopta 20 October 2018 at 6:23 pm UTC
Liam you mention DRM free games as if they don't exist on steam. People seem to misunderstand. Just because a game is on steam doesn't mean it's DRMed and it doesn't mean you can't back it up. Steam does provide OPTIONAL DRM that a Dev must deliberately choose to use. There are actually a good number of games in my steam library that are not DRMed at all. An easy way to test is to run the game manually and see if it sets your steam status to in game. Even some games that do that don't actually require steam to be present so the most accurate way of testing would be to close steam and then try to run the game. I wish people would realize that the Steam storefront and Steam DRM are two completely different and semi-unrelated things. The Steam DRM requires your game be published on the Steam store in order to work. The Steam store requires no such thing in return though.


Last edited by Scoopta at 20 October 2018 at 6:27 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
liamdawe 20 October 2018 at 6:25 pm UTC
ScooptaLiam you mention DRM free games as if they don't exist on steam. People seem to misunderstand. Just because a game is on steam doesn't mean it's DRMed and it doesn't mean you can't back it up. Steam does provide OPTIONAL DRM that a Dev must deliberately choose to use. There are actually a good number of games in my steam library that are not DRMed at all. An easy way to test is to run the game manually and see if it sets your steam status to in game. Even some games that do that don't actually require steam to be present so the most accurate way of testing would be to close steam and then try to run the game.
Sure, but plenty of Steam games have some form of Steam integration. I'm sure you understood my wider point.
Scoopta 20 October 2018 at 6:28 pm UTC
liamdawe
ScooptaLiam you mention DRM free games as if they don't exist on steam. People seem to misunderstand. Just because a game is on steam doesn't mean it's DRMed and it doesn't mean you can't back it up. Steam does provide OPTIONAL DRM that a Dev must deliberately choose to use. There are actually a good number of games in my steam library that are not DRMed at all. An easy way to test is to run the game manually and see if it sets your steam status to in game. Even some games that do that don't actually require steam to be present so the most accurate way of testing would be to close steam and then try to run the game.
Sure, but plenty of Steam games have some form of Steam integration. I'm sure you understood my wider point.
I understand the point but at the same time I think people make a bigger deal out of Steam's DRM than it actually is. Hell depending on the game there are even extremely trivial ways around it.
liamdawe 20 October 2018 at 6:52 pm UTC
Scoopta
liamdawe
ScooptaLiam you mention DRM free games as if they don't exist on steam. People seem to misunderstand. Just because a game is on steam doesn't mean it's DRMed and it doesn't mean you can't back it up. Steam does provide OPTIONAL DRM that a Dev must deliberately choose to use. There are actually a good number of games in my steam library that are not DRMed at all. An easy way to test is to run the game manually and see if it sets your steam status to in game. Even some games that do that don't actually require steam to be present so the most accurate way of testing would be to close steam and then try to run the game.
Sure, but plenty of Steam games have some form of Steam integration. I'm sure you understood my wider point.
I understand the point but at the same time I think people make a bigger deal out of Steam's DRM than it actually is. Hell depending on the game there are even extremely trivial ways around it.
I rarely make a big deal out of Steam's DRM and in this case it wasn't specifically about Steam's DRM. It was mentioned, sure, but only because this happened on Steam. The main point is that it's a reminder on how stuff can be taken away.
thykr 20 October 2018 at 7:00 pm UTC
You have to keep in mind that the developers are human beings too.
The person who did this probably had a bad day, was very fed up already and read this review and took it personally or something, which lead to them over-reacting. It happens to everybody once in a while.

Sure that's wrong, but he did apologize and fix things anyway.


Last edited by thykr at 20 October 2018 at 7:00 pm UTC
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