An indie developer trying to get coverage for his early access title with Youtubers has noticed many of his Steam codes turning up on reseller sites.
Following a press release that encouraged media persons to request early access codes, Worlds of Magic developer and Wastelands Interactive studio head Leszek Lisowski sent early access codes out to anyone who requested them who claimed they were from a Youtube channel.
He later found a forum thread stating that his game was being sold for $15 on another site, a deal he had not arranged. Buying the key himself from the reseller, he discovered it was the same key he had sent out to one of the supposed Youtubers.
Writing on Gamasutra
, Lisowski explained that upon investigation, he noticed the emails he had received requesting codes used a a classic scam tactic in that the addresses had one letter different from the Youtube channel name they were claiming to be from.
After discovering the one instance, Lisowski attempted to validate the requests from other Youtubers he had received and received only five confirmations out of the 23 requests received.
To further test how susceptible developers are to this sort of trick, he also tried the scam himself, copying one of the fake messages he had received and sending out 46 emails, resulting in him receiving 16 keys for 15 games.
’We have to consider if it's really a loss to give keys to people like that. After all, they wouldn’t buy the game anyway. However, in my opinion, the real story is that developers often end up giving them more than just one key,’
writes Lisowski. ’They may end up with two or three Steam keys in a single email. And they'll keep requesting keys masquerading as different youtubers. In the end, they may sell 10 or 20 copies of your game at half price. Something like that can make your customers very angry and lead to complaints about pricing policy.’
Lisowski’s advice for developers trying to solicit Youtube coverage is to simply use the built-in message system on the platform to ensure you are talking to the right person.