Earlier this year, Steam creator Valve announced that it was opening up the online marketplace to nearly all games, provided that they weren’t illegal. It gives players more choices when they’re browsing, but one game currently available on Steam appears to be infecting users with malware.
The platformer Abstractism, which is advertised on Steam as a game with a “stylish minimalistic design” and “relaxing atmosphere,” appears to install a cryptocurrency-mining program on users’ systems after it is installed. Users who purchased the game have uploaded screenshots showing that the game is recognized as a Trojan virus by their security software, and YouTube user SidAlpha was led to believe that — due to the high CPU and GPU stress caused by the game — this virus was mining cryptocurrency.
It was also discovered that in-game items in Abstractism were being sold on Steam under the guise of being rare virtual items for Team Fortress 2, causing players to spend real money on them without realizing that they were effectively worthless. The game’s developer, Okalo Union, attempted to cover its tracks by renaming these items and changing the associated images, but the original URLs still confirmed they were intended to trick users.
For its part, Okalo Union said Abstracism is not a cryptocurrency miner, despite earlier suggesting it was, and that the programs flagged by antivirus software are necessary to handle the game’s item drops. It seems unlikely that this is the case, but the items you can receive mostly consist of cut up meme images, so you aren’t missing out on that much by skipping it. The developer encourages players to have the game open for increasingly long periods of time, which would make perfect sense if it’s using their system to mine cryptocurrency during that time.
Valve’s decision to open up Steam to a wider selection of games sounded like it could be a good idea, but if users can’t guarantee that a game they download from the service won’t harm their computer, the company has a big problem. It would be wise to reconsider its stance on this policy before things get any worse.
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