Image by Luke Plunkett.
Valve has removed games from Steam before, but never this many, especially not all at once.
Today, Valve yanked 173 games from the Steam store, all of which were tied to Silent Echo Studios, a company that's become notorious among Steam users for publishing heaps of cheaply made games, typically by slapping together assets from near-ubiquitously popular game engine Unity.
As chronicled by YouTuber SidAlpha, Silent Echo would submit multiple games to Steam through the new Steam Direct service, leading to situations where they'd publish tens of games per month, nearly reaching 100 in the past couple months alone.
These games would feed the ethically questionable portion of the Steam trading card market that Valve's been trying to push back against ever since it took a stance against so-called "fake games" earlier this year.
In a statement to Polygon, Valve explained that it's had enough of Silent Echo's antics, which is why it decided to give the "studio" the boot. Valve noted that the developer was operating under a series of different accounts, which led to "a lot of reports and frustration from customers and other developers."
"This person was mass-shipping nearly-identical products on Steam that were impacting the store's functionality and making it harder for players interested in finding fun games to play," said Valve.
"This developer was also abusing Steam keys and misrepresenting themselves on the Steam store. As a result, we have removed those games from the Steam Store and ended our business relationship with them."
Valve added that spamming cloned games and making illicit use of store tools "isn't something we will tolerate." If that's truly the case, the Steam team has a lot of work ahead of them.
While regular users don't often see these games thanks to Steam's algorithms, Steam on the whole is spammier than ever, which means that many legitimately interesting games never get a chance to register as more than a blip on the algorithm's radar.
Banning some spam games and developers is a start, but Valve still hasn't addressed the systemic issues that allowed these operations to grow like weeds in the first place.
Time and time again, it's proven dedicated to its "open" marketplace to a fault. Until GabeN and co take a long look in the mirror and reevaluate their priorities, I don't expect things to change.