This story may be a little difficult to wrap your head around, but I’ll lay out the basic details so you can follow along and understand what’s going on here. There’s a subculture in the Russian development community known as Steam Greenlight forum farms. T
hese “forum farms” are sites where Russian developers congregate and boost their games through Steam’s Greenlight process in order to get their titles approved to appear on the Steam store. These games are little more than asset-flipped games that are then sold onto Steam for cheap prices.
It’s a networked operation that mostly flies under the radar unless people really know where and how to look for it. Well, some diggers started digging and they found a whole network of Russian and Ukrainian developers using forums to boost their asset-flipped games through Greenlight in order to get their game onto Steam.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “asset-flipping”, it’s basically a term for a low-tier game using generic or license-free assets for a game, created as a project that’s just barely functional. Asset-flipped games are basically made so developers can make a quick buck on selling the game for dirt cheap.
YouTuber SidAlpha did a seven minute video covering the topic, which you can check out below.
The video came about after Guardians of Greenlight did some digging and posted their findings in their Steam group.
As mentioned in the video, the website Miped.ru is one of many sites that house the asset-flipping profiteering operation.
If you go to the main site and search up the Russian term for “Greenlight”, you’ll only find three entries in the news category of the site, and only two of them are actually for Greenlight games. There’s one for Warside from April 2nd, 2015, and another for Deadbreed published on April 28th, 2014.
Guardians of Greenlight, however, point users toward the Miped.ru forums, where there’s a “One Way to Exit (Steam Greenlight)” thread, where developers post their games for boosting and farming.
If you check the forum threads the games are typical, low quality, asset-flipped Greenlight games. Users inform the others when they’ve voted for the game, and in exchange they’ll receive a free key as part of the boosting process.
One user named maximus reminds the other users…
“Voted, miped you up, do not forget the key to everyone who helped”
According to Guardians of Greenlight…
“[…] the thing is the creator of the forum on this site makes it a rule that you have to give each of your voters that are obtained from the site free Steam keys, and they even go as far as to blackmail developers saying if they don’t do this, then they will get reported to Steam”
There’s an image of the administrator, Kvak, actually threatening developers to give away the free keys as part of the boosting process or they will be reported to Steam and will be banned from the forums.
“In this section you can create topics, which will be posted links to your games in Steam Greenlight. In return for the voice you have to promise the keys after the passing game to the incentive or any other bonuses. If your game has passed, and you are not given a key to the user, then:
1) You will be blocked on the forum.
2) The complaint will be sent to support Steam on you and your game or program (with all the proof)”
As part of Valve’s rules for operating on Steam Greenlight, developers are discouraged from attempting to bribe gamers by giving out free keys in exchange for votes, as reported by Trusted Reviews.
According to the Guardians of Greenlight, they suspect that the developers are using the keys to launder money through Steam’s Trading Card system, which is hinted at in another screenshot of a user selling 7,000 keys for various games along with cards.
It’s not just Miped that’s part of the scam either. There is a handful of other sites that intrepid users have discovered that are part of the Greenlight farming, including but not limited to:
If you’re not convinced that this Greenlight farming operation works… well, it does.
In one of the threads, from back in October, 2016, they show that they upvoted a game on Greenlight called K-Rolik.
The screenshots show that the votes took place on September 25th, 2016 and the game was supposedly approved for Steam and passed the Greenlight process on October 5th, according to a post on the Greenlight page.
A week later, on October 18th, 2016, Trading Cards were added to the game.
The maker of K-Rolik is Gennady Guryanov, and if you check Guryanov’s profile on Steam, you’ll note that he has two other cheap games on Steam as well, Zi and Julai, both of which were also Greenlit.
Unsurprisingly enough, you’ll also see some of the same users giving positive reviews to some of these titles from Guryanov.
It’s very similar to another scam we reported on a while back, where review bots were used on cheap Steam games in an attempt to boost their appeal on the Steam store. Valve had some of the games removed from Steam, while others had their buy button removed so gamers could no longer purchase new copies.
We’ll see if this latest scam goes unnoticed by Valve or if they’ll have some sort of disciplinary actions handed out for the users engaged in Greenlight farming.