“I noticed that the publisher/developer name is located really close to the reviews and has the same color, and I decided to use it for my purposes,” the anonymous developer of Emoji Evolution told Vice. Having ‘Very Positive’ reviews on your game will no doubt influence whether users will click on it or consider purchasing it, and for the less eagle-eyed, it could quite easily trick people into thinking that the game was well-received, when in actuality, the reception was ‘Mixed’.
Well, this is one way to trick people into thinking your game has positive reviews on Steam…! pic.twitter.com/jnzGC9qfEu
— Patrick Klepek (@patrickklepek) February 10, 2021
The developer told Vice that they didn’t think it would be an issue with Steam, but Very Positive has now been banned from Steam, with Emoji Evolution delisted.
“Valve has banned my developer account due to the ‘review manipulations”. Absolutely disagree with this accusation.’ wrote the developer on Twitter (below). They followed up with “I will contact the support to clarify Steam position on Very Positive Developer” – so perhaps the story isn’t yet over.
I will contact the support to clarify Steam position on Very Positive Developer. Will keep you posted!
— Very Positive Developer (@verypositivedev) February 13, 2021
In the wake of the ban, the Very Positive Developer has said on Twitter that they are only guilty of making a “really bad game.” “If making awful games is not allowed on Steam, why haven’t they already suspended the CDPR account?,” they added, in a jab at the Cyberpunk 2077 developer. They would later go on to apologize on Wednesday, tweeting “I apologize to any customer that was misled by my trick. Bless Steam refund system.”
VPD has now uploaded Emoji Evolution to Itch.Io, and says that it will be “free until Steam restores my developer account (forever, lol).” In other Steam news, the platform keeps breaking its own concurrent player’s record, recording over 26 million people logged in at once in early February.
Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.