April 12th marked the birthday of Caspian Prince of Puppy Games and to celebrate he decided to give away a single copy of one of his games to anyone who wanted it. The result? Spam bots, abuse and now banned Steam accounts.
So it’s your birthday, you’re feeling a bit good about it – perhaps even a bit generous. So to share your birthday cheer you decide that, as a game developer, you’re going to offer some free games to the internet. It’s an act of goodwill; nothing more, nothing less. Caspian Prince of Puppy Games did this exact thing on April 12th and announced his generosity via the following tweet:
That one tweet ended up pretty much going viral through retweets, posts, articles, the lot. People rushed to grab a free game, even more so when they learned that Revenge of the Titans and Titan Attacks were Steam codes at first. Once those codes had run out, BMT Micro had to deal with the eager customers, giving direct downloads for those two games along with Droid Assault and Ultratron. As you might have predicted, the servers crashed within the hour and continued to struggle the entirety of the day.
It turns out that this wasn’t just thousands of users rushing to grab themselves a free game, according to Caspian a number of persons originating in Eastern Europe “quickly created scripts to generate hundreds of Steam keys for themselves” and these were then traded in bulk. Due to this, all of these keys will be invalidated by Valve “who will also at their discretion be completely banning accounts who took advantage of the abuse.” From the 22,500 “sales” of the games made that day, only 11,200 of them were legitimate, with 3,137 also taking all four games rather than just the one as was offered.
This, on top of the many mishaps of the day which included running out of Steam keys, the shop page getting shut down and the server’s email sender dying; meant that Caspian’s birthday turned quite sour. That’s not even mentioning the backlash after Caspian was forced to request for these keys to be invalidated, which included a couple of users threatening to report Puppy Games for fraud, calling out cheap PR tactics and telling friends not to buy their games in the future and some saying they were asking Valve to remove the company from Steam.
There is good news though – Ultratron 3.0 – a completely revamped version of the game – will be coming in the next few months and Droid Assault will be coming to Steam shortly.
You can read up on the full account of what happened on April 12th as written by Caspian himself over on the official blog.