Developers can still release unfinished games on Steam … they just can’t mislead customers. That’s the gist of Valve’s ruling in regards to infamous Early Access game Earth: Year 2066.
Earlier today, Valve removed the “open-world survival” game from the Early Access portal on Steam due to developer Muxwell allegedly misleading consumers. Earth: Year 2066 debuted in April for $20, but it quickly drew the ire of gamers for presenting itself as a more complete piece of software than it actually is. The title currently only has a small map that is almost completely devoid of interaction. That’s despite Muxwell’s description that calls Earth: Year 2066 a “sci-fi apocalyptic open-world game” that puts player in control of a survivor who must get to “God’s House.”
Valve will refund anyone who bought the game up until May 19. Steam’s Early Access store enables developers to sell games in various stages of completion, and critics have suggested that a studio taking advantage of the system like Muxwell was only a matter of time.
While Valve did remove Earth: Year 2066, it did not do so because the game was too early or broken. Instead, it did so because it agreed that Muxwell was allegedly misleading consumers.
“On Steam, developers make their own decisions about promotion, features, pricing, and publication,” Valve manager Chris Douglass wrote in a post on the game’s forum. “However, Steam does require honesty from developers in the marketing of their games. We have removed Earth: Year 2066 from Early Access on Steam.”
We’ve reached out to Muxwell for a comment, and we’ll update this story with any new information. Check out for the trailer of the game below:
This isn’t the first time Valve has come down on a misleading game on Steam. In December 2012, the company took The War Z from its store for misleading consumers. The War Z was also an open-world survival title, but its Steam page listed a number of features that were not in the game people were buying. Valve eventually stepped in and offered a refund, and the game ended up back on Steam two months later in a more complete form under the name Infestation: Survivor Stories.
Since The War Z, Steam has introduced Early Access, which has really changed the way distribution works for a number of games. This part of the Steam store features a number of unfinished games from studios that will ostensibly use the money they get from selling prerelease versions of their software to complete development. This has enabled games like DayZ, the $30 standalone version of the mod for military shooter Arma II, to dominate the sales charts. The open-world release debuted in December and is still the best-selling game on the platform.
Critics, however, have warned that some developers might come to Early Access with games that they will never finish. And something like Earth: Year 2066 might lend credibility to those concerns.
At the same time, with Valve stepping in when situations like these do arise, most gamers will probably keep buying Early Access software through Steam.