Valve has removed an indie game called Abstractism from its digital games marketplace Steam, for allegedly functioning as a covert crypto mining operation.
According to user complaints, the game (which was released by developer Okalo Union and publisher dead.team on March 15) was cryptojacking computers — i.e., surreptitiously using devices’ processing power (with the aid of malicious software embedded in the game) to mine cryptocurrency, thus causing computers to slow down and overheat.
As per a report by Motherboard, Valve has officially confirmed (via email) that the game has been removed from Steam. In addition, Valve has also banned the game’s developer and publisher from its video game platform.
“We have removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling with content, and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items.”
The Motherboard report points out that there were several “immediate red flags” — in addition to a poorly written official game description, the game also offered players rewards for leaving the game running when not in use.
Users began to suspect something awry as early as July 14, and YouTuber SidAlpha went on to post a complete breakdown of how exactly the game was using unsuspecting players’ devices to mine cryptocurrency. Allegedly, the game hijacked system resources and tripped security software.
In addition to the cryptojacking accusations, users also blamed the game’s developers of scamming players with counterfeit items.
In a game update on July 23, the game’s publisher attempted to quell the crypto mining concerns via the patch notes
“Abstractism Launcher and Abstractism Inventory Service are not Bitcoin miner (and are not Monero miner too, honestly). These apps are required to connect to the Steam and grant items to your inventory.
However, the flurry of user complaints forced Valve to bring the game’s run on Steam to an end on July 30.
As per recent studies, ransomware has taken a backseat to crypto mining malware, the prevalence of which has forced companies such as Google and Apple to ban all sorts of crypto mining applications from their platforms.