Steam Switcheroo Swaps "Pirate Action" Game For Hentai

By Luke Plunkett on at

There’s a small but growing trend on Steam where developers take existing games that few people have ever seen or played and just... swap them out, replacing them with entirely different games, albeit ones using the same store page.

As GI.biz report, and pulling examples from this excellent community post by Mellow_Online1, there have been quite a few cases recently where a game has been released, sometimes in early access, and then one day it’s gone.

Take Aiball: Drunks, for example, a party game released in 2016 that managed to attract a handful of sales and user reviews. In March 2019 the few people owning Airball may have noticed that the entire game was removed and replaced with Penguin Cretins, which wasn’t an update or redesign of Airball, but an entirely new and different game.

Following pressure from Steam users who noticed the switch and complained, the developers reverted the game this past weekend back to Airball, saying “This is an early version of the game that is changing during development. But, as we see, people who bought Airball do not need any penguins, so we are returning the old name and version of the game.”

That’s clearly untrue, since Penguin Cretins had absolutely nothing in common with Airball! And swapping the game was an extremely shitty thing to do, because anyone who had owned Airball could no longer play it, since the files no longer had a store entry to launch from, and the game couldn’t be redownloaded because Penguin Cretins was there instead.

And that’s just one example. Another even wilder one is the case of Tale of Fortune, previously an action game where you played as a pirate searching for treasure, since replaced with an adults-only hentai game that has kept the same name but absolutely nothing else (and whose community page is still live, but whose store page is currently down).

While community feedback is helping in some of these cases, there’s a wider problem in that there’s nothing in Steam’s Terms of Service expressly forbidding a practice like this. As lawyer Richard Hoeg says in this video, while there are general terms governing developer conduct like “good faith” and “fair dealing”, Valve will need to tighten that up (or take more frequent, direct action) if they want to avoid this becoming a larger problem in the future.

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