Asset flips are a dime a dozen, and I’m sure if I went looking I’d run across all kinds of games on Steam that are merely “games” quickly thrown together using assets from something like the Unity Store. Escape: VR is another in that line (thanks to Mellow_Online1 and IAmPattyJack for finding this initially), a Virtual Reality game that is nothing more than the “Western Town” asset for sale on Unity that you can walk through. The more concerning thing, however, is that the game has a bunch of positive reviews from very obvious bots.
You can see all of the reviews for Escape: VR here. Aside from the three seemingly genuine reviews—and the only negative ones—all of the reviews are positive and contain random characters in the text of the review, usually just “1.”
Looking at the bots a little more, all own 135 (when I began writing it was 102) games—all of which seem to be the same games—and all only have a single Steam review: Escape: VR. Each of them even tells you they’re a bot on their Steam profile page, too. The bot there shows it has over 100 hours of play time these past two weeks, however, across many different games. So what are they doing exactly?
Well, it seems these bots are used mostly for farming cards on Steam. All of those bots, of the many I checked anyway, are a part of this Steam group here for Archi’s SC Farm. The GitHub page for the ArchiSteamFarm software describes it as an application “that allows you to farm steam cards using multiple steam accounts simultaneously.”
For those unfamiliar, playing certain games (most of them) on Steam will give you some digital trading cards over time, among other digital items. You can then sell them on the Steam Marketplace for money that can only be used on the Steam Store or the Steam Marketplace. So, someone seems to be using a bunch of bots to farm a lot of cards at once to then sell on the Steam Marketplace.
After looking at many different groups of bots part of the Archi’s SC Farm group, I failed to find another that had also had positive reviews on one game, or any reviews for that matter. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist out there, but with the millions of users on Steam and the many thousands of games on the platform, it’s easy to miss. Also, Valve is likely quick to remove offending bots once they are noticed.
The big question, of course, is why does something like Escape: VR exist? It seems to play some part in the card farming scheme as a cheap game to get cards, which is another topic for another day, but why the many reviews from bots? It appears as an attempt by whoever’s behind this to make the game look more legitimate than it is to customers, which would lead to sales of the game, but in the era of Steam Refunds, that doesn’t make much sense either. Or maybe just to make the game look legitimate in just the eyes of Valve to avoid them cracking down. Or maybe it was a mistake by the person operating those bots. Without any sort of contact for Escape: VR, as the developer JapanCo doesn’t have any sort of online presence I can find, we will likely never know.
One thing worth keeping in mind is that JapanCo could have had no involvement with the reviews at all. Whoever is behind the bots could have their own motives for doing so, relating to some of the reasons mentioned previously.
We have reached out to Valve for comment on the matter and will update this article if we receive a reply. Attempts to find JapanCo’s contact information have been fruitless so far, but if we do find them at some point, we will reach out to them as well.
Do you look to Steam Reviews for information on a game? Let us know in the comments below!