An indie game on Steam was allegedly using the host PC to run a cryptocurrency mining script for the developer’s benefit – not to mention attempting to scam punters with fake items copied from Team Fortress 2 – leading to some controversy concerning Valve’s policing of its online games store.
The game in question is Abstractism, and it was a simple platform-type affair where you guide a black square around a series of sparse looking levels, but it has since been removed from Steam.
That follows the aforementioned accusations of sneaky cryptocurrency mining taking place in the background, after some players noticed spikes in CPU (and GPU) usage on their PC, while some folks’ antivirus software flagged a number of the game’s files as malware.
If you don’t think that’s shady enough, the developer, Okalo Union, told those complaining about the heavy load on their processor that it was likely caused by using ‘high graphics settings’ – which is rather strange as this game’s graphics are simple black and white line drawings which wouldn’t stress a PC from the last century.
In the midst of an exchange of posts with a player, the developer even admitted that “Bitcoin is outdated, we currently use Abstractism to mine only Monero coins”, before going on to claim that the game doesn’t mine any cryptocurrency in the sentence after.
And as we mentioned at the outset, this developer was also reportedly trying to scam Steam denizens out of money by selling fake items for Team Fortress 2. One poor guy bought what he thought was a TF2 Australium Rocket Launcher, worth about $100 (around £75, AU$135) or so, when in fact it was an item made to look exactly like that weapon, but for the Abstractism game. And obviously in that respect it wasn’t worth anything.
When those investigating this buyer’s story went to the Steam store to try to find the offending fake item, the developer had removed it, so was clearly trying to cover their tracks.
Given the attempt to scam people with items like this, it’s hardly a major leap to believe the allegation that Abstractism was running a rogue crypto mining script.
At any rate, Valve has now dealt with the game and removed it from Steam, but this incident does highlight the fact that you have to tread carefully on the store, at least when it comes to less well-known developers.
And Abstractism was hanging around on Steam for some time, given the reports of those who were affected, who made their voices known in a number of negative reviews of the title. So it does throw some question marks over Valve’s policing of its store when it comes to blatantly dodgy games. And from the sound of the evidence presented here, they don’t come any more blatant than this platformer offering from Okalo Union.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).