Crypto-mining and cryptocurrency is a huge thing right now. Prices of computer hardware have skyrocketed to accommodate the growing trend of trying to make a quick buck off the electronic mining market. While there is big money to be made in the cryptocurrency fad, there are also some people willing to cut some extreme corners in order to make some fast cash, including building shell games and loading them onto Steam while using them to mine cryptocurrency from consumers who purchase and install the game. That's exactly what apparently happened to one indie title that Valve had to pull from Steam.
Polygon is reporting that Valve has pulled the game Abstractism from the Steam store after it was reported that the indie title was being used as a stealth cryptominer. It's a twisting, turning a story with various plots and sub-plots that one might find from an Agatha Christie mystery.
It started when forum goers noticed that Okalo Union's Abstractism flooded the Steam trading market with tons of items. Essentially a game having lots of items for trade on the marketplace means that a lot of people can purchase and sell those items. Oftentimes trades are for cards that can then be combined and turned into items that you can retrieve, such as discounts, free games, emoticons, backdrops, and more.
The issue people had with Abstractism is that the game was flooding the market with items from other games, such as rocket launchers from Team Fortress 2, even though Abstractism is a 2D platformer. According to the report, some of these items sold for up to $100, which meant that the developers were making some bank on the Steam cards.
But things became even more nefarious than that. During the investigation from YouTuber SidAlpha, it was discovered that Abstractism had extremely high CPU and GPU usage, despite being an extremely simplified platformer. And by simplified platformer, I mean a game that has the graphics fidelity of Pong from the 1970s.
The game's executable was then flagged by some anti-virus software as a potential threat. When people questioned the developer about why the CPU and GPU usage was so exorbitantly high for Abstractism, and how the virus scanner picked up the game's executable as problematic, the developer deflected by stating that the game needed a number of applications as game launchers in order for the game to drop the trading items.
When accused of using the indie title as a Bitcoin miner, the developer stated that Bitcoin was outdated and that the game was only used to mine Monero coins, which is an open-source cryptocurrency. In the exact same statement, the developer also said that Abstractism doesn't mine cryptocurrency, and that the CPU and GPU usage was due to the post-processing effects for the two-color game.
This response did not sit well with gamers nor Valve. Abstractism was removed from the Steam store after receiving complaints about the software being a cryptocurrency miner for the developer. If you attempt to visit the Steam store for the game, it simply redirects back to the front page, as it's no longer available for purchase.