A small indie game on Steam was on probation for several months after its release, only yesterday being granted access to the platform’s full features. While the exact reason for the problem appears to be a small bug, the developers seemed to think, at least for a bit, that the game‘s huge amount of positive reviews had fooled Steam into thinking the game was a phony.
The indie game in question is a rhythm game called Wandersong, the Steam page of which appeared to be held in a kind of purgatory, with certain features such as achievements not available. The small footnote at the bottom stated “Steam is still learning about this game.”
Wandersong's steam reviews are so good that Valve doesn't necessarily believe it's a real game, and still haven't enabled many basic features for us in case it's a bot trick. BUT IT'S REAL. https://t.co/wRZVo1LKtLpic.twitter.com/XqEzQKKP5x
— WANDERSONG (out now!!!) (@Wandersong_game) January 8, 2019
For those unaware, this message is something all Steam games get, as the company holds them in brief probation to ensure they’re not a “fake” or “bot” game. The proliferation of such games is a recurring problem for Steam — games designed to exploit the platform’s achievements or trading card marketplace with cheap (in both senses of the word) shovelware games. Valve has attempted to keep them out with “confidence metrics,” restricting access to the coveted features until the game essentially proves it’s not one of the platform’s fake games. The platform has removed hundreds of games that did not pass muster in the last two years.
Unfortunately for the developers of Wandersong, this period of purgatory lasted for several months. The developers theorized on Twitter the cause was the limited number of reviews, all of which were positive, might have triggered a red flag. It’s a nice idea — that your game is just so wonderful the new fans unintentionally bamboozled Steam. Too bad it wasn’t actually the case.
Valve later debunked this theory to Kotaku, stating the cause was a bug preventing the store page from updating, softlocking the game into its limbo. A fix has apparently been rolled out, as the game no longer has the footnote marking it out for a probationary period.
We’ve reached out to Valve for more information on the exact nature of the bug that started this whole mess.