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Frostpunk developer 11 bit to end giving Steam keys to curators

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11 bit studios, developers of the Frostpunk franchise, have announced that it’ll stop granting Steam keys to curators. Due to the proliferation of key resellers that 11 bit and other developers have faced, it’s opting to end the practice entirely. 

“Starting today we won’t be granting game keys to Steam curators,” wrote 11 bit. 

Developers have been using Steam’s Curator system for years to find content creators and reviewers who would best help in promoting their games. Even with Valve’s safeguards, it’s possible for scammers and resellers to become Curators and then, upon receiving a Steam key, turn around and sell it to whoever is willing to pay. 

Beyond the resellers and scammers, 11 bit freely admitted that what reviews it receives from Curators didn’t seem to “bring any value” for the community of its games. Tomi Toikka, CEO of Finnish developer Makea Games, corroborated 11 bit’s claim, saying that Steam keys to his games would soon be resold at G2A or activated without any reviews to show for it. 

Key reselling has been an issue for the PC games industry for years. In 2016, digital game marketplace G2A was called one of the best places to sell stolen game keys, particularly for indie games. 

Following that, G2A would both defend its position, and make it so that key sellers had to provide personal information to their buyers in order to establish accountability. 

Starting today we won’t be granting game keys to Steam curators. Based on our and other devs’ experiences, most of the requests come from fake accounts used to gather and resell the keys and the published reviews don’t seem to bring any value for the community anyway.

— 11 bit studios (@11bitstudios) September 2, 2022

Recently, PCGamer reported that Valve banned 20 curator pages after indie developer Cowcat accused multiple curators of trying to get free codes from the developer. After spamming Cowcat’s game Brok the Investigator with negative reviews received wider attention, all the Curators involved were banned.

Upon hearing about the recent bans, 11 bit expressed hope that Valve will improve the Curator program. It remains unclear if 11 bit’s position is permanent or, should Valve implement changes, change its stance.  

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