PurpleAir’s Erolyn Chan Fight was originally banned back in late February by Valve’s product release manager Jason Ruymen. The reason for the ban was that Ruymen alleged that PurpleAir and another devleoper, R’lyeh Game, had engaged in review manipulation. R’lyeh Game offered a lengthy rebuttal and even accused Valve of discriminating against Asian developers. PurpleAir was a little more slick about achieving recourse, and decided to rebrand as MKYGame and relaunch their title Erolyn Chan Fight as Magical Girl Attack.
Back on March 26th, 2019, PurpleAir decided to resubmit Erolyn Chan Fight to Steam. The application was accepted and on April 14th, 2019 they added the store details, added the name Magical Girl Attack, and announced that the release date for the game would be April 23rd, 2019.
However, someone at Valve finally caught wind of the resubmitted title and dropped the ban hammer on it. According to the SteamDB entry, Magical Girl Attack was banned on April 16th, 2019.
The game’s store page is completely inaccessible, but the trailer, screenshots, and image icons are exactly the same as Erolyn Chan Fight, the only difference is that the name changed.
Valve’s new approach to banning games from Steam have also been a lot more aggressive, and so there’s no web cache of the store page, and the community hub is completely inaccessible.
The only traces that the game was submitted to Steam and that it had a store page came courtesy of the SteamDB entry, and the Completionist.me page for Magical Girl Attack, which also confirms that the game was submitted but also banned.
The only reference to the game through the actual Steam client is for a search of MKYGame, which shows that Magical Attack Girl has been “uninitialized”.
Now obviously attempting to circumvent the original ban would net them a second ban.
The real issue, however, is that the original ban is called into question because Valve never actually provided any proof that PurpleAir and R’lyeh Game were actually manipulating the review scores for the games. And when R’lyeh Game showed proof that the reviews that were supposedly manipulated went both positive and negative, and that there was suspicious activity from reviewers both for and against their game. They also offered up IP address logs and data caching manifests to prove that they weren’t manipulating the results, but Valve never responded to their inquiry.
At this point it’s a he-said, she-said scenario, but the developers have at least been willing to come forward to attest to their innocence. Valve, on the other hand, has not made any attempts to back up their claims about review manipulation.
Even still, it’s a scary prospect to think that a distribution outlet can make a claim and ban you from the store at the snap of a finger, completely putting your indie company’s future in jeopardy.
However, attempting to circumvent the bans to get the game back onto the service will likely never end in the favor of the developer.
(Thanks for the news tip StarKitsune)