Beware Of Fake Steam Games – How To Avoid Getting Scammed

A load of scam games appeared on the Steam PC game platform overnight between 29th Feb and 1st March 2024, with fake versions of popular games including Helldiver 2 being available at a heavily discounted price.

Unfortunately these isn’t a one-off issue: fake versions of popular games have been listed on Steam for many years, with Valve (at least partially) aware of the problem.

In this video I cover WHY and HOW this fake game scam works, and what you can do to protect yourself from it going forward.

If you prefer text over video, please read on for the guide/transcript version of this video.

Video Transcript And Guide

Hey everyone, so… something interesting happened on the Steam store last week. It turns out that Steam and its developer Valve have a BIG problem with how they manage game listings. Basically users took to social media to complain that loads of fake games had appeared. In some cases there were THREE listings for the same game, like Helldivers 2:

Multiple Helldivers 2 versions listed on Steam
Multiple Helldivers 2 versions listed on Steam

Both had the exact same name, marketing image, developer name and publisher. I mean, this is published by Playstation so it must be legitimate, right? It even has various positive reviews, well, granted there were only 44 reviews of this particular “game”.

Fake Helldivers 2 Games

But one key difference was the price: two of the Helldivers 2 games were heavily discounted. So why wouldn’t you buy them? Well, because they were actually fraudulent listings. If you purchased them, you would either get some random other game, a fake ripped-off version of Helldivers, or maybe a boatload of viruses and worms that even a double dose of Ivermectin would struggle to take care of.

Thankfully Steam DID take care of this problem quite quickly and deactivated all of these fake game listings. BUT why has this happened? Well for many, many years, users have been complaining that Valve handles game listings in a “sub-standard” way that makes this sort of attack likely:

Someone reporting this issue to Valve 5 years ago
Someone reporting this issue to Valve 5 years ago

How Fake Steam Game Scam Works

To explain this, let’s say that I’m an indie game developer. I’ve just created the World’s Best Ever dungeon crawler. I want to list it on Steam, so I pay their $100 upload fee, wait for Valve’s employees to manually review everything, and then it’s live. Woohoo!

My made up Steam game listing
My made up Steam game listing

I can now sell my Early Access Premium Beta Alpha Testing Release for $5. Noice. Over the next few months, I then naturally make various changes to the game’s marketing images, the description, price and more. That’s all fairly standard of course, and sometimes it will trigger a manual review from Steam. But after a few manual reviews, they’ll trust me enough to make these “small changes” in the future, without a further review. That’s where this whole problem lies (although thankfully there’s a few ways of protecting yourself from fake games, which I’ll cover in a minute).

Reddit thread showing all the fake games
Reddit thread showing all the fake games

If my Steam developer account gets hacked, the hackers can THEN change everything – a bit like how some massive YouTube channels have been compromised and changed to crypto scam channels overnight. So in these cases, the developer’s games have had EVERYTHING changed – the name, image, developer and publisher. Everything. That then makes it pretty confusing for all of us, because who doesn’t want a cheap game, right?

What’s worse is that this isn’t a one-off problem: it has been happening for many years, with users raising feedback with Valve for quite some time saying that automatically approving changes to game details isn’t really ideal (even if Valve did resolve this issue in just 6 hours, to their credit). What’s interesting in this case too is that it wasn’t a hack: an indie developer randomly decided to scam everyone and make bank:

Steam support confirming indivie dev did this scam
Steam support confirming indivie dev did this scam

How To Avoid Getting Scammed

So how can we protect against this? Well firstly, if a game has multiple listings (which is usually how this scam works), you should immediately be suspicious. If one game is much cheaper than the other one, remember the old adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”. However you CAN also check things like the game release date, because this will show the original release date (from the original indie game). We know that Helldivers 2 was released in Feb 2024, so clearly those other game listings are a bit suspicious.

The other thing you can do is get the URL of the potentially dodgy game, and check it in Google or on If it shows results for a different game, then it’s a scam. We can see that one of the fake games from last week was actually called Figurality. Y’know, before the developer tried to scam us all.

PSA: Double Check Anti-Virus Config

The last thing you should do is always ensure that you have a proper anti-virus program installed AND configured correctly. It’s quite concerning to me that we should even need to be concerned about viruses and malware when buying games from a reputable platform like Steam, but clearly we DO need to protect ourselves. I raise this point specifically because some guides online suggest that you exclude the Steam game library from your anti-virus checker, to increase game performance. Naturally this ain’t good advice anymore.

The final thing I wanted to point out is that if you DO get scammed here and the game you end up playing is clearly a fake, Steam has a good refund policy. As long as you play the game for less than 2 hours, and request a refund within 2 weeks of purchase, you can get a quick, “no questions asked” refund.

A screenshot of the Steam refund policy
A screenshot of the Steam refund policy
cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

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