Rimworld is this neat little gem that only Steam account users will have the hotness for. It’s a pretty awesome Dwarf Fortress esque game with some hints of the unnatural sci-fi that one may know from the Firefly series. The developers of said game even have this great deal for Early Access Steam keys. Then douchebags had to muck it up.
The whole story here is that the devs of Rimworld, Ludeon Studios, decided to put out a promo so that they could earn more money. God knows these indie developers need all the help that they could get. They offered that, instead of buying Steam keys from Steam itself, that takes a 30-40% pay cut from the developers with every unit sold, people interested in Rimworld should opt to purchase from their site instead. Naturally, Steam sells them cheaper than Ludeon does so, to sweeten the pot, Ludeon would send free Steam keys to put into any Steam account for those that bought the non-Steam version of the game. Simply typing in their purchase email was enough to merit this free Steam key of Rimworld. It’s essentially getting two copies for the price of a slightly higher one.
So basically, more money for Ludeon Studios and shiny Steam keys for longtime supporters. Everybody wins. RimWorld is a massive undertaking, too. Ludeon deserves every penny they get.
Unfortunately, the Steam keys black market can be pretty brutal for the uninitiated. These fraudulent rapscallions descended upon the hapless developer in full force. In a blog post, Sylvester of Ludeon explained:
“If you bought before today, you can still get a key. However, I’ve been forced to stop offering Steam keys for those who buy today and in the future. We’ve been getting hammered by fraudsters who are obviously more experienced at this than I. Shutting it down for now is the only way to avoid thousands of dollars in chargeback fees and lost sales. It’s time to take a breather, because I can’t fight this ‘live.’”
With tons of chargebacks done with those free Steam CD keys, Ludeon lost more money than what would normally be normally sound for a developer of their level. Not to mention the Steam keys used in nefariously fraudulent actions are now being banned.
The plight facing RimWorld and Ludeon Studios’ shines a light on one of the biggest issues in PC game publishing right now: that developers may face crushing chargeback fees from stolen credit cards used to buy Steam keys. Fraudsters make money by selling these keys on via eBay-style PC game websites.
This is a tough one for Ludeon and I do hope it’s something they can recover from.