Leszek Lisowski of Wasteland Interactive has revealed how developers are being scammed into giving free game keys to fake YouTubers.
Lisowski explains that the limited marketing budgets of indie game developers make them more than willing to share Steam keys in exchange for extra exposure.
The problem, however, is that some frauds posing as active YouTube personalities simply re-sell these keys on digital trading platforms.
Lisowski did some digging of his own and found that some promotional keys for World of Magic, a game he helped create, were being sold for $15 on digital gaming marketplace G2A.com.
He then duplicated the efforts of the aforementioned scam; creating a fake email address and pretending to be a popular YouTube personality contacting other game devs for Steam keys.
Lisowski was able collect $400 worth of keys from 25% of all the developers he contacted – adding that he could probably have scammed more if he created a more valid-looking email address.
“The whole purpose of sending out all those requests for steam keys,” he said in a Gamastura blog post, “was to find out on just how large a scale we were being scammed and robbed.”
This news is valid for consumers as well, especially since Steam can revoke – and has revoked – stolen keys in the past.
Such was the case for Sniper Elite III.
Keys were stolen from one of the PC retail distributors that Rebellion, the game’s developers, partnered up with.
Those keys were then resold on various sites, but were revoked once the thefts were discovered.
Rebellion reached out to the game’s Steam community and offered free DLC to those affected, but those players would still have to procure another copy of the game through Steam itself or through licensed partners.
Do you frequent digital gaming marketplaces? Have you ever wondered why some game resale sites have such ludicrously steep discounts on existing games?
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*Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net