Right now, Steam has a contest going on where one lucky person will win every video game on Steam. There are ways to get entries in every day for “free”. There are also ways to get extra entries by completing objectives in various purchasable games. Each piece of “coal” is an entry into the contest. Each Steam account can get more chances (and more coal). Steam also allows gamers to take coal, trade it, and then craft prizes with it…specifically, get free games.
Over at HumbleBundle.com, there are a bunch of games for really cheap. You can pay whatever you want. And they issue Steam keys for the games. Before today, you could be an ultra lame cheapskate and buy the bundle for one cent…and get Steam keys.
You probably see where this is going.
Some video gamers decided it would be “fun” to attempt to get tons of Steam coal by abusing this system. Unfortunately for them, Santa keeps a naughty and nice list and they are now squarely on the naughty list. These people set up a script and paid one cent for hundreds and hundreds of Humble Bundles. Then, they generated a bunch of Steam redemption codes and plugged them into new Steam accounts. Suddenly, they have tons of entries into the Steam contest for mere dollars, tons of coal, and tons of prizes (from a limited prize pool).
In addition to getting caught, PayPal transaction fees are 30 cents plus 2.9% of the transaction (usually). And, by buying so many copies at one cent, the average price on HumbleBundle.com has dropped significantly (approximately 25 cents according to one article). So, this little fiasco actually cost HumbleBundle money and will hurt them for a while longer. Fortunately, doing things like this is also against the Steam Subscriber Agreement and will hopefully result in permanent bans from Steam for their regular user accounts too (i.e. total loss of access to their entire digital collection). A suitable punishment for cheating and violating the Steam Terms of Service agreement. So, if you were directly involved in this stunt, here’s a big thumbs down from the gaming community. And a big shame on you too.
I also learned about a new website offering a near-clone of the Humble Bundle: indiegala.com. They only generate Steam keys but they generate one key per game, making the one cent thing even more tempting a target for video gamers without a conscience.
For the record, while I’m definitely a “cheapskate”, I still pay what I consider a reasonable amount for the games I want to own – and I’m patient for good deals. I also try to offset PayPal’s fees accordingly and I don’t cheat online systems. I’m okay with “cheating” in single player games – hey, game developers put in that infinite ammo code in single-player for a reason…. But even I understand and respect that an equal playing field is needed in the online world for everyone to have fun.
Here’s the original announcement for the change: $1 Min. Price For Getting Steam Keys. I originally heard about this via word of mouth.