Valve Takes Down Cryptocurrency Virus on Steam Store


Some time ago, Valve decided to open the floodgates for the Steam Store. Effectively allowing pretty much any game, as long as it wasn’t what they classified as illegal or straight up trolling. Many were concerned that this would allow potential viruses to be sold on the platform… …and it looks like those concerns may have been valid. Recently, it became known that a game called “Abstractism” is a lot more than an “absolutely trivial platformer”. As it seems, it was not only being used to engage in the scamming of items in Team Fortress 2… …but it was also a virus turning players’ computers into cryptocurrency miners. The story starts on the 28th of July when a user reported that they have been scammed for the first time in 3 years. The user had attempted to gain a “Strange Australium Rocket Launcher”, an actual weapon for TF2… …but instead received an item called “Strange Professional Killstreak Australium Rocket Launcher”. What you may not notice though is that this isn’t actually a TF2 item but one associated with the game “Abstractism”. When more and more people were becoming aware of this, the dev quickly tried to cover it up by… …by renaming the item to “nope” with a picture of a cat… and later changing it again to be completely blank However, the title of an item does not change its URL… …and you can clearly still see the original item’s name in the URL Even then, the original page had already been archived. Showing yet again, the internet never forgets. But it gets far worse than this… Later on, many players were reporting the game was using a lot of their computer’s processing power, despite having very simple graphics. The developer responded by stating that this was due to the graphical settings being set to the highest options. But it seems that this may have not been true. Many different antivirus softwares were detecting both the game’s launcher as well as the steamservice.exe file as viruses… …with the former being a trojan whereas the latter would be malware When asked about this, the devs stated, “Both files were necessary to acquire items for your Steam Inventory… …and that you can play without item drops by launching the game directly from the executable in the game’s directory.” However, the claim that steamservice.exe is necessary for receiving items is a complete lie… …as simply looking to any other game you have on Steam will show that no such file exists on any of them. This led players to believe that both files were viruses with many pointing to the possibility of… …it being a cryptocurrency virus. In case you didn’t know, you can acquire cryptocurrency by mining it, a process in which your computer has to solve a complex mathematical operation to be rewarded with the currency. This requires a lot of processing power, which has led to the creation of viruses known as “Cryptojackers”… …which silently use your computer’s processing power to mine for their own gain. While almost undetectable, one of the signs that you may have such malware is is a high CPU usage when not running any intensive programs, which seems to be the case here. It’s at this time that the words spread quickly about Abstractism being a virus, leading to the game being flooded with negative reviews. When responding to one of these which was stating the game was used to mine bitcoin, the dev straight away confirmed the accusations with “Bitcoin is outdated, we currently use Abstractism to mine only Monero coins.”… before their denying it, “Abstractism does not mine any type of currency, the large CPU and GPU usage are required for rendering post processing effects.” It’s worth noting that after some time, the response was edited to remove the first part. The developer continued denying the accusation in an announcement on July 23rd, in which they stated, “The Abstractism Launcher and the Abstractism Inventory Service are not Bitcoin miners nor Monero miners. These apps are required to connect to Steam and grant items to your inventory. You can run the game without item drops by launching it from the directory.” Of course, as stated before, this isn’t true in the slightest and as expected… …pretty much no one who had heard about the game were on the side of the developer. The game had continued to receive negative reviews with nearly all of them pointing towards the potential cryptocurrency virus, but we can’t show them for a pretty obvious reason. Nearly a couple of hours after the news broke out, Abstractism was permanently removed from Steam. The spokesperson for Valve stated that, “We have removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling with content, and… and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items.” While the game was quickly banned when outrage broke, there’s no denying this seems to be a direct result of Steam’s new policy of allowing almost anything on the platform. There are many questions that still need answers. Does Valve actually verify if the product it sells are safe? …and if so, how was Abstractism able to get away with the alleged malware for so long For now, the only thing you can be sure of is that this video isn’t using your computer to mine some cryptocurrency. …or is it? Hey… Vsauce, Michael here…

100 thoughts on “Valve Takes Down Cryptocurrency Virus on Steam Store”

  1. I came from the Agony video and just want to say, keep those news coming, MeowCaptain 😀 Your videos have way more journalistic integrity than any I've seen in the mainstream and other so called YouTube gaming news channel – sources, cites and all. I'll be tuning in for more updates from you.

    PS: A question, is this channel owned Josh Boyles or is he only hosting and the writing is from someone else?

  2. While Abstractism was a clear-cut case of hidden malware, I can also see cryptomining as a possible way for developers to generate passive revenue from free-to-play games without needing to stuff them with scummy microtransactions and other shady tactics. However, if mining is ever to be recognized as a legitimate way to generate revenue, it needs to:
    -Only be applied to FREE TO PLAY GAMES.
    -Only be active when the game is running. When the game ends, the miner stops mining.
    -Limit its CPU usage so the system doesn't slow to a crawl.
    -Be plainly, simply, and obviously disclosed to consumers prior to purchase, and provide some sort of opt-out option to disable it for users whose systems may not be able to handle even the already reduced burden on their CPU. (or even better, make it an opt-in system instead, so it's more of a conscious effort for dedicated players to support the developers directly)
    -Not be used in conjunction with other F2P practices. This should be an alternative to F2P practices, not a supplement for them.

    If ANY of these five conditions are not met, then it may as well be considered a virus. However, if game developers use this technology responsibly, then I can see it being used for good as well. Time will tell, I suppose. I'm also curious what you guys think of this idea as well. If you have any suggestions or problems with this concept, I'd love to hear them.

  3. At least VALVe is actually taking strong actions against these criminals, VALVe you never disappoint me (In the end, at least).

  4. I remember seeing this on steam and considering looking into it at some point but I had no idea it was malware. I'm glad I never downloaded it.

  5. what a fucking scam. they didn't use ransomware or simply shut down their computer… they fucking used their computer as a rig without them knowing wtf

  6. 4:11
    hey vsauce, michael here

    but what I can say as part of the valve's side against having viruses, they would also have to cycle through a shit load of different games just to check, and most of the games are there as indie's which are trying to start up, I'm sure there are inhibitors and other types of blockades to try and prevent this issue; However all in all, the sheer amount of games that need to be carefully checked can make it too difficult on steams part.

    But at least they got us, the bombastic and maybe a slightly soft drink addicted community.

  7. I don't mind Valve letting anyone make a game, but they should have each game go through several virus scans before being published.

  8. I remember when I downloaded planetside 2 and there was a virus in it. I don't know if it was just me or other people too

  9. that's horrible! At least steam removed it showing their power. Valve most likely didn't notice the games ram usage when reviewing IF they did. There are hundreds of games uploaded to steam daily so damn I'd take a while to manually review them lul.

  10. I've wondered if code was verified to safeguard against viruses/damages. Guess I got my answer. Great video assembly and presentation!

  11. This has already happened with Soul Worker, which installed Red Shell on the user's PC, which monitors browsers and collects personal information.

  12. Just in mind Strange Professional Killstreak Australium Rocket Launcher is worth 49 keys which is 113$ or 98 euros. That's big money, good thing the dev did not make a golden pan.

  13. I think it’s more worrying that they could have more easily gotten away with it if they actually shipped a graphically intensive game with a cryptojacker.

  14. This is a RAT to make a botnet of mining PC's, Not a virus. Viruses are more or less fancy quines or scripts which replicate themselves. A RAT that makes a PC part of a botnet is a form of a malware. You could also classify this as a Trojan.

  15. My computer has taken a virus beating many times…I don't know how long it will last so thanks for the warning

  16. As anakin skywalker once said, this is outrageous. You can literally buy malware on steam.. wtf kind of store is this.

  17. It's not as crazy as you might think.

    If you've been paying attention to fiat currency aka the dollar you'd know it's swelling even more than usual.

    More countries are dumping bonds and it's only a matter of time before it collpases or the government says fuck it and established a crypto as the new dollar or make their own.

    (Though we could also go into taxation is theft and the Federal reserve is it's own private entity that prints money on no gold standard i.e making it decrease in value which is just if NOT MORE SO as criminal as what this developer did" )

    The dollar = debt
    Nothing you bought with it you own.

    Opportunities like this arise it's in your best interest to get ready for what's coming. Because regardless if it crashes or settles and shifts to a new currency crypto

    There will be a shock.

  18. Honestly if the dev just gave the game away for free and said up front that the game will mine crypto currency, but it does so as a method to fund future development. A lot more people may have just let it go.

  19. why do i always get the feeling that whenever low quality games are released on steam with controversy behind them, it's always shady russian devs?

  20. Everybody say that valve and steam is on a downhill but ffs tf2 csgo etc makes so much money for valve that they dont even have to work. Also they fixed this issue pretty quickly so please appreciate the little things too. Maybe they are working on hl3

  21. I want to add one thing in here real quick that even if you have no high intensity programs running and your cpu usage is high it might also be the windows search function which is a default part of windows 10 and is completely intended check on how to disable that temporarily and see if that helps with your cpu usage before doing anything else. This has been the case for many of times i've reset my computer and no i'm not making this up you can also google "cpu usage at 100% windows 10" and it should be one of the suggested possibilities.

  22. There’s always a reason why I buy “popular” games nowadays and shit like this is why. As much as I would love to explore new games, but the risk of viruses or problems like this is what just turns me away.

  23. I don't know if you know but a game on Steam exists and it's horrible, it costs £1.60 and at first buyers were given an empty folder and people complained, after that the game was fixed to NOT be empty and it was a buggy mess the game has to Glitch itself to beat it and it's 20 seconds long gameplay wise.

  24. It's mining information! QUICK, EVERYONE REPORT IT TO THE INFORMATION MINING AUTHORITY! (big joke pls no hurt)

  25. i subbed originally because of your funny and original gameplays but all these news(ish) videos are not what i was expecting. i know you probably put just as much effort if not more into these videos, but thats not the content I'm looking for. Hope you the best, farewell.

  26. I have 2 games that valve need to pay more attention
    1st is Haydee (Tomb raider+Portal+Booby simulator)
    2nd is House Flipper
    Both games use 100% GPU usage, when u play them even on lowest settings.

  27. I don't doubt steam but i still need them to rework their policy about quality games on the platform especially when there's like ton of shit get released everyday might as well removed because it sold very low though steam still profit from this 1-5%.

    With this problem it issues precautions about malware of these games released each day , though simply you just need to have updated Antivirus and buy only from trusted or known developers, but that still doesn't change the fact that the platform lacks management on the released game.

  28. Why no more space engineers. You just abandoned the community… You even deleted why new your passive videos for some unknown reason. Why?

  29. Honestly guys, Steams's hands off approach was about sexual or controversial content, not viruses. Nothing about Steam policy has ever changed about allowing viruses nor has Steam ever be known to actually review what crap are they selling. Steam has always been very bad at QA about the products they place on their platform.

  30. quick solution: just ban cryptocurrency entirely
    and if people complain they have no money this way, just blame capitalism

  31. I do like the ability for any dev to put any game up on the store, but there needs to be a process to make sure that a game is not a virus and some quality control

  32. People complaining that Valve made a free market, I just want to say that sure Valve should actually these games and make sure they are safe, but I feel like if done properly, can actually help out indie devs by giving them coverage, if they make a good game, people review it, if it gets high reviews, more people buy, it just seems like a good idea to me.

  33. I'll take the trade of freedom over security. I still fully standby Valve and their decision to relax their content policies and what they allow.

  34. Am I the only one that noticed the subtitles at the very end of the video that says, "Hey… Vsauce, Michael here…" lol

  35. if they had of run the app at normal priority.. would have probably never been an issue.

    also in regards to running as a virus, could have taken out infectious flags in file to trigger antivirus.

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