Scorched Earth – Earth: Year 2066 Booted From Steam

Apparently Earth: Year 2066 is not very good. The open-world survival game recently made a splash on Steam Early Access, but less like, say, an Olympic diver and more like a ball of thoroughly be-snotted tissues. By most accounts it was barely functional, with just a small location and some robots and little else. That, however, isn’t enough to get a game yanked from Early Access. It is for early games, after all. No, Valve finally saw fit to enact a scorched earth policy on Earth: Year 2066 when it caught a whiff of some seriously fishy false advertising.

Valve explained why it made Earth go bye-bye, adding that buyers will be able to get a refund until May 19th:

“On Steam, developers make their own decisions about promotion, features, pricing and publication. However, Steam does require honesty from developers in the marketing of their games.”

“We have removed Earth: Year 2066 from Early Access on Steam. Customers who purchased the game will be able to get a refund on the store page until Monday May 19th.”

Apparently developer Killing Day Studio/Muxwell also took to deleting complaints from the game’s Steam forum, eventually clearing out the whole thing and renaming it “the troll tavern.”

In the past, Valve has at least temporarily given the boot to games like The War Z, Ashes Cricket, and Dark Matter for similar reasons.

As Valve continues to push Steam into more open waters, I do hope it’ll at least continue to curate the store on this level. I’ve been saddened to see some seriously questionable offerings run the Greenlight gauntlet with little-to-no trouble, but there still need to be ground rules, and truth in advertising should be at the top of that list.

Beyond that, well, Valve is technically free to do whatever it wants. Fingers crossed that Steam isn’t a total disaster area afterward.

From this site

52 Comments

  1. Donners says:

    My recollection is that Ashes Cricket was removed voluntarily by the developer, not by Valve.

    • Octuplex says:

      I think it was worth the money just for the laughs, anyway.

  2. FunnyB says:

    @Nathan, are we getting an article on the Towns-developer? The fact that they are hinting starting development on Towns 2 while officially shutting down development on Towns….

    Seems related to the Early Access debacles (yes I know Towns wasn’t Early Access).

    • trjp says:

      One of Towns developers is (or was) a regular in our forums here – come and ask him yourself?

    • Taidan says:

      Oh, the old “Left 4 Dead 2” manoeuvre? Gamers voted in support of that with their wallet, it’s officially a non-issue now.

      • HauntedQuiche says:

        The difference with Towns is that the game…. really isn’t finished. The game may have predated Steam’s ‘Early Access’ label, but it was advertised as being an unfinished launch with ongoing developement, and that promise was present on the games Steam page well after developement ceased.

        Basically, Towns was a case of a developer choosing to go for a Ongoing-update-alpha-launch thing… but then just gave up and decided that actually they didn’t want to finish the game afterall. Lazy pricks, in other words.

        • Martel says:

          As far as I’m concerned, the Towns devs have also been working on scorched earth. I sure hope they don’t think I’d ever buy anything they make in the future.

          • ancienttyrael says:

            The original dev quit last year which essentially stalled any programming, They hired a new guy couple months ago but since his contract was tied to the sales of each month and that tanked he had to go find another job.

  3. amateurviking says:

    The whole drive towards non-curation is going to mean more cases of ‘hawk’ behaviour in steam: clones, cash ins, broken shovelware all out to dupe a few thousand people to handing over $10. Fancy box art on Spectrum games all over again.

    If Valve are committed to taking this route, they need to implement some kind of user curation ASAP: RPS’s ‘Games Wot We Had an Opinion On’ (with links to WITs) for example. Total Biscuits ‘Games with fully featured option screens’. Maybe even just better/more prominent implementation of ‘what your friends are playing’.

    It’s already nigh impossible to browse/discover on the store.

    • Niko says:

      Didn’t all eighties and nineties game have fancy box art, though? Like, compare this Fortress of Fear cartridge cover art: link to pics.mobygames.com
      with in-game screenshot: link to mobygames.com

      • amateurviking says:

        *wipes away nostalgic tear*

        That kind of bait and switch was a very early but important lesson in the dangers of marketing. I’ll never get those accumulated fifty pences back.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I like to watch TB’s “Steam Sells…”. He’s on something of a crusade against the dreck washing up on Steam’s increasingly dead fish smelling beaches

      • Maxheadroom says:

        Jim Stirling of The Jimquision does a similar thing and has done at least a couple of episodes focusing on this very ‘game’

    • Lemming says:

      the non-curation will be balanced by the individual store fronts that Valve want to move towards, though. Perhaps don’t buy your game from honest john’s rogue-likehardcoresandboxmetroidvaniaearly-access development house on Steam, and maybe pick studios you know or have at least read about via lovely sites like RPS.

      • Geebs says:

        I bought a roguelike from his store and it turned out to be a rougelike-like. Screw that guy.

    • drewski says:

      Yeah, it’s becoming a lot like the Google Play and iTunes – just filled with utter bilge.

      I usually just filter by what other people are buying but that’s a terrible way of coming across new titles. Shame.

  4. hemmingjay says:

    @FunnyB How much do those devs(BurningPet & Supermalparit) owe you? What did you pay for that game? Did you not get a fair value for it?

    Towns was a great experiment and fun. I know the team fairly well and they have had differing ideas on it’s direction over the years. In the end though, they have grown immensely in their capabilities and to continue to push gameplay forward they need a new engine/platform.

    As a developer I see Towns as a success but also as a big learning lesson. They started the game with an idea to make a game similar to Dwarf Fortress but more user friendly and graphical. They soon began to wander from their and turn it into their own concept. The project didn’t seem to have traditional development structure but rather they would ad what they liked, worked on what they wanted. At times the game was excellent but at other times the game would suffer from choices that most considered strange.

    The young team learned a lot though and I expect that Towns 2 would be a much more structured vision and that those who support it early on will end up happy and with their expectations met.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I suppose simply releasing “Towns 1.0” and calling it done would be the thing to do, although I haven’t really followed it since I bought it in a bundle, played it once and then never really picked it up again.

      • Guvornator says:

        They already did that – when it was put on Steam it went from v.60a to V6. Even though it wasn’t V6 of anything – in fact it barely worked. I’m wondering when the RPS kicking of THAT fiasco is going to appear, because it’s far more heinous than anything EA, Ubisoft et al have done recently.

    • Jorum says:

      The Towns thing demonstrates the odd problems of early access. The devs are saying it hasn’t sold well enough while not seeming to realise they haven’t released it yet. I’m sure a lot of people were waiting for the game to be released before buying it. The same for many other games.

      • Guvornator says:

        Well here’s the thing – Towns was released on Steam via Greenlight, NOT Early Access. It took a week for the devs to actually mention on Steam that it wasn’t, you know, finished. With the update changes I mentioned above it created a false impression that the game was in a releasable state.

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          Towns was released on Steam via Greenlight, NOT Early Access.

          That’ll be because Steam Early Access wasn’t even a thing which exists™ when Towns was approved by Steam Greenlight.

          I suspect it’s state/existence was one of the driving forces behind VALVe making Early Access a thing which exists™.

      • Recurve says:

        It’s a misconception that the game was early access. It never was. It was just released in an unfinished state and then pretty much abandoned.

        • SirMonkeyWrench says:

          That’s a shame, it was a great premise, lots of room to play the mechanics you generally find in a city builder.

          Edit: Just looked at the steam reviews, man people are pissed off at this game. Wow.

      • Deano2099 says:

        The other issue is it was in bundle while still in Alpha – tons of people picked it up for pennies really early on. It’s not that it’s not selling well, it’s that a lot of people who would buy it already own it.

        This was December 2012, before early access was an actual thing, but shows the danger of all these early access / greenlight bundles. You’ve already dropped the game down to rock bottom prices, and committed to giving the full version out free to everyone who bought it then. And suddenly you realise that that short-term boost you took to fund making the game has cut off your later income stream, and so release a version 1.0 then start work on the sequel.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Yes, I wonder what the economic impact of releasing in a bundle so early has on games. I rarely play games in alpha now because I have limited time and would rather experience a game as it’s meant to be played rather than hack through different bugs months apart. Then again, it depends if the game is continually evolving like Minecraft or something that’s intended to reach a finished state at some point. I guess it’s a tough choice; any form of investment in a product will have downsides, and it’d be easier to just self-fund and then release when you’re ready, but that’s obviously not possible for everyone.

        • Shuck says:

          I expect to see this happen with a lot more Early Access games because it’s so obviously problematic a dynamic for sales and revenue. The best intentioned developers are going to find themselves penniless and unable to fund continued development, because even a lot of finished games don’t hit the sales they need to pay for development costs. Early Access may allow for more funds up-front, but trying to sell an unfinished game at a discount just increases the odds of not reaching the necessary budget.

    • FunnyB says:

      Personally, I never bought the game, even though I found the premise really interesting. But I decided to wait on a more finished state, that apparently never surfaced. So, no, I have not “lost” any money on that game. However, I still feel that the situation is interesting, and newsworthy in itself.

      Developer releases half-finished game, with the promise that several features will be added.
      Developer halts development of said game.
      Developer decides to permanently stop development of game and admits that they didn’t fulfill all promises, citing that the game hasn’t sold well enough consistently.
      Developer then floats the idea of starting development on a SEQUEL of said unfinished game, to boost new sales and maybe add the features that were missing from the original game.

      How is that NOT interesting material for discussion? Whether or not you feel that you got your moneys worth of the game?

  5. Chris says:

    Now it’s time for GODUS and X-REBIRTH to meet their makers.

  6. SirMonkeyWrench says:

    For those of you who are curious, and don’t find Jim Sterling too annoying, this video is a pretty good short representation of the games quality. link to youtube.com

    • Alien426 says:

      And also this Jimquisition episode.

      I hardly ever find him annoying. In fact his Jimquisition videos are very well articulated rants against some of the most disgusting aspects of gaming.

  7. Artist says:

    Again unbelievable that Steam removes this but refused at least refunds for the scam that X Rebirth was/is.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Last time i looked at the steam stats the player base for X-Rebirth was around 200 people. Little point in Egosoft even trying to salvage it now. May as well get started on X-4 (although i imagine the pre orders for that will be in single digits this time round)

    • Zenicetus says:

      I think a few people managed to get refunds by jumping through the right hoops, but Steam didn’t make it easy. The rest of us poor fools who bought it before looking at reviews just walked away from it.

      They can’t do an X4 now. It was a one-shot money grab from the core user base that will never trust them again. With Elite:D, Star Citizen, and others on the horizon, I don’t think they even have the programming skills to compete in this market, based on what we saw in Rebirth. If Egosoft is still around in a few years, they’ll be working on some completely different kind of game.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        What I don’t understand is how they could even possibly think this was a good idea, *especially* in the context of a bunch of new fresh space sims coming out soon. Had they waited and polished the game a bit, it still wouldn’t have been “good” but it would’ve been tolerable. By releasing it the way they did they effectively committed suicide.

        • Artist says:

          Im pretty sure theyve financially cornered themselves (probably via contracts). Egosoft has a capitalization of ~500k€ and a decent part of that is already venture capital. So it was definatly not possible without more foreign capital and I guess thats where the publisher, contracts and time limits kick in. Then add a few bad design decisions and you have the mess that X Rebirth is.

      • Artist says:

        Well, not to forget to mention that Mr. Josh Parnell’s 1-man-project Limit Theory is on a good streak to make Egosoft look even more like fools.

        • Stardreamer says:

          Completely agree. Josh’s work on his economy of late seems to have already birthed tools for analysing and managing that economy over and above what Egosoft completely failed to produce in over fifteen years of iterative development.

          And of course, Mr Braben’s work in the field is legendary.

          Egosoft got us through the lean years but their work has always suffered by comparison to the greats. Their time has well and truly ended and as a space-game nut I couldn’t be happier about that.

  8. Baines says:

    continue to curate the store on this level

    Valve is pretty much doing the absolute minimum, as doing less could possibly land them in PR or legal trouble. Valve only acts on games where bad press has already started to blow up, where the game is being sold with a false store description. As much as they want to proclaim a complete lack of responsibility for what is sold through their store, that stance might not hold when tested.

    Valve has at least been a bit more willing, compared to its War Z days, but that is as likely driven by not wanting that degree of a bad PR storm again. (Though the cynical might say it is because none of the other games were as profitable as War Z was.)

    • Artist says:

      Unfortunatly true. Valve really just acts when the shit hit the public media fan. Without that they definatly dont care much if they get their money from crap sold or not.
      Call it the “dark, greedy side of Steam/Valve”!

  9. King_Rocket says:

    Aww I got all excited when i read the headline, I thought they were rebooting Scorched earth.

  10. wisnoskij says:

    This article could really do with some passing mention of what the developer was not honest about specifically.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Just some minor information to satisfy my urge to, like… know stuff.

      • Shuck says:

        It was presented as an “open world” post-apocalyptic survival FPS with ongoing development. Instead it was an incredibly primitive shooter very clearly made in Unity using FPS default settings, and given the quality and content, it could easily have been made in an afternoon by a child and a couple cheap Unity store assets (although some of the art also turned out to have been stolen). It was “open world” only in the sense that the tiny, simple test map in the middle of flat terrain had no barriers around it, allowing you to move to the edge of the map and fall off it. It clearly wasn’t getting any more development given that it only represented a few hours work – it was a quick cash grab after no effort was expended on the dev’s part, though if we’re being charitable, it could have been that the developer threw someone else’s work together and simply wasn’t skilled enough to make an actual game out of it beyond that. Either way, it clearly wasn’t going anywhere and what it was and where it was (not) going were being grossly misrepresented.

        • Hydrogene says:

          Thanks for the precision. That’s interesting, and this information was clearly lacking in the article.

  11. onyhow says:

    You forgot to mention when he edited several negative comments to make them look much more positive…then after this completely blew up, he torched the whole forums, then start to spam other forums to give away the game key, which got himself banninated from those places, THEN he torched every single post he made on Steam (including ones in Greenlight page) except the single one in the refund forum where ae says he’s glad it got so much attention…

    He also torched his Indiegogo profile AND torch the game’s Indiegogo funding page…which, BTW, he only asked for $500…

    Did I mention that when this was blowing up he created a Greenlight for Watching Simulator? Which is basically a “game” about watching Eaeth Year 2066 screenshots?