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Valve Bans Developer After Employees Leave Fake User Reviews (arstechnica.com) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Insel Games, a Maltese developer of online multiplayer titles, has been banned from Steam and had all its titles removed from Valve's storefront after evidence surfaced that it was encouraging employees to manipulate user review scores on the service. Yesterday, redditor nuttinbutruth posted a purported leaked email from Insel Games' CEO encouraging employees to buy reimbursed copies of the game in order to leave a Steam review. "Of course I cannot force you to write a review (let alone tell you what to write) -- but I should not have to," the email reads. "Neglecting the importance of reviews will ultimately cost jobs. If [Wild Busters] fails, Insel fails... and then we will all have no jobs next year."

In a message later in the day, Valve said it had investigated the claims in the Reddit post and "identified unacceptable behavior involving multiple Steam accounts controlled by the publisher of this game. The publisher appears to have used multiple Steam accounts to post positive reviews for their own games. This is a clear violation of our review policy and something we take very seriously." While Valve has ended its business relationship with Insel Games, users who previously purchased the company's games on Steam will still be able to use them.

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Valve Bans Developer After Employees Leave Fake User Reviews

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  • Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @05:13PM (#56124595)

    I guess you don't have jobs THIS year.

  • Poor Employees (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwven ( 663186 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @05:15PM (#56124605)

    The real loser here are the employees of the company. They got an email from their boss manipulating them into leaving fake reviews (essentially threatening to shut down jobs if they didn't), and now they're virtually guaranteed to lose their jobs.

    • by Eloking ( 877834 )

      The real loser here are the employees of the company. They got an email from their boss manipulating them into leaving fake reviews (essentially threatening to shut down jobs if they didn't), and now they're virtually guaranteed to lose their jobs.

      I won't be so sure about that.

      On top of their job, CEO and President usually have shares and other asset linked to their company. So, in a way, I find that they will lose a lot more if the company is to goes bankrupt. And this little controversy will follow them for a while.

      On the others hands, employes lose their revenu and will need to see another job. For some it will be harsh, for other it may bring them to new horizon. I don't feel like Insel Games had much of a future anyway.

      • Wealthy executives losing share value isn't the same universe as people who will now have trouble paying rent/mortgage, bills, and kids tuition if they can't find a new job within a month or two (and the lowest level of employees even sooner). That you'd even make a comment like that shows you're disturbingly out of touch. Garbage like that is why people put the wealthy's heads on pikes come revolution time. "Oh no, poor CEO, he had to downgrade from a Bugatti to a Lambo." Who cares they lost more real doll
        • by Eloking ( 877834 )

          Wealthy executives losing share value isn't the same universe as people who will now have trouble paying rent/mortgage, bills, and kids tuition if they can't find a new job within a month or two (and the lowest level of employees even sooner). That you'd even make a comment like that shows you're disturbingly out of touch. Garbage like that is why people put the wealthy's heads on pikes come revolution time. "Oh no, poor CEO, he had to downgrade from a Bugatti to a Lambo." Who cares they lost more real dollars, drawing an equivalence like that is grotesque.

          Well this isn't Facebook, it's Slashdot. Sentimental fantasy created by teenagers movies where 1% are the evil man isn't welcome, only facts matters here.

          Let's start with a scoop, most president have families too (especially president from little companies) and bankruptcy isn't a downgrade to a Lambo, it's a downgrade to nothing at all. And I know that I'll will survive way more easily than my boss if my company had a controversy like that and goes bankrupt (in fact, I just changed job after my old company

    • The real loser here are the employees of the company. They got an email from their boss manipulating them into leaving fake reviews (essentially threatening to shut down jobs if they didn't), and now they're virtually guaranteed to lose their jobs.

      Beats making another sociopath rich, they can get another job, their boss is likely deeply invested and going to lose much more.

  • Leave fake reviews you mustn't be confident in your product.
  • Every company I've worked for has done this, if only to offset early hyperbolic 1 star reviews (it took 10 seconds to load!). I find it hard to believe this is not widespread behaviour.
    • Re:common practice (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kneo24 ( 688412 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2018 @07:25PM (#56125603)

      I once worked for a company that asked its employees to do something similar. They opened up a forum so their customers could ask for help and discuss how to better fix the system that the modules we were selling them go into. - It was an after market repair company. There was a section for customer feedback they wanted us to fill up.

      I laughed, laughed, and laughed some more. What ended up happening was the QA manager did all of this, pretending to be a customer initially, having a screen name so very similar to his actual name, which you could find on the "about us" page of their website. Then he continued to answer technical questions on the forum in a official capacity of the company under the same user name.

      • I once worked for a company and by mistake answered not making it clear I was from the company. They made it clear I should never do that. Since then I have used an alias so to make it clear I speak in my name, never go to the companies forum and be very generic about what I say about companies I work for, so ot could be almist any company.

        To me that is common sense. In almost all companies I worked it was made clear who the people where who spoke to the public, who to journalists, others to lawers and wha

    • this is a shot across the bow. Insel games just happens to be the first ones caught / made example of. Sucks, because they can't say they weren't warned, but nobody expected the rules to be enforced.
      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        No, several companies have been kicked from Steam store, Digital Homicide, Silicon Echo and 'Matan Cohen's Studio' are some and there's more which I can't remember the names of. Indie developers get caught writing reviews for their own games regularly.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      That's stupid. If the game looks interesting, the first thing I look for is the negative reviews. You aren't going to help yourself one iota by trying to "balance" those out, because I'm not going to look at your apple-polishing nonsense.

      And yes, I'm quite capable of detecting when the user is just being bitchy, or is complaining about something I don't care about (or has likely been patched in the 2 years since they wrote it). But if 30 users are complaining about the same thing and its something I care

  • Of this action? Thumbs up. Right on the money, Valve. A zero-tolerance policy on review skewing, tampering and fraud is absolutely fantastic!

  • "Neglecting the importance of reviews will ultimately cost jobs. If [Wild Busters] fails, Insel fails... and then we will all have no jobs next year."

    Guess you guys learned a good lesson about reviews then. You should've added something about not reviewing your own products. Ooops.

  • How is this any different than my employer encouraging me to leave positive reviews of the company on Glassdoor? We should probably be banned as well...
  • Do they have so many employees that those 'fake' reviews (as maybe some of them actually like the game), that it would really influence the total number for the game?

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