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Plane crash: Air Control is the best example of why Steam still needs to be curated

Air Control

Valve’s decision to eventually wind down Greenlight and take a step back from curating games that appear on Steam is looking ill-advised (again) thanks to a peculiar, so-called “flight simulator,” known as Air Control. Developer Killjoy Games calls it “the best flight simulation in the history of computer games” and claims that it is a “new gen airplane simulator”. 

So it’s a simulator, right? No. Not at all. A quick glance at the trailer and screenshots shows that it’s a confused mess of shooting, unedited stock assets, copyright problems and Flappy Bird. It’s hideous – Killjoy claims this is just because people are playing it on old PCs – broken and utterly nonsensical, by all accounts. And it’s not an Early Access game, this is a finished product that one can buy and somehow made it through the Greenlight process. 

Even the developer doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of the game. It’s called a flight simulator, but Killjoy Games has come right out and said it’s not a flight sim and it’s just a bit of fun. The message becomes even more confused when players and critics say that it’s borderline unplayable, and the developer responds with “Now it is a bit hardcore and you need to practice a lot in the game to finish flight in Killjoy mode.”

For reference, here’s a video of Killjoy mode courtesy of PCGamer.

The issue of copyright infringement is potentially an even bigger problem. It seems to stem from ignorance rather than the maliciousness, as the developer has just been chucking in audio and models without even thinking that they might be copyrighted. It used audio from Delta Airlines, copyrighted soundtracks, and in a post on the Steam forums explaining that the copyright issues had been resolved, a user pointed out that the game still used art from the Zelda franchise. The dev, of course, was entirely oblivious.

One page later, the developer claims: “Air Control does not have any copyright problems now. We have already fixed it.” Straight away, someone points out that it continues to use the Lufthansa Airlines logo in both screenshots and trailers.

Bad games are always going to appear on Steam. Even if Valve did proper quality control, it would happen. But Air Control isn’t simply bad. It’s a work-in-progress that’s advertised as a finished product, the store page says it’s one thing while the developer claims it’s something entirely different, and it is riddled with content the developers have no right to use.

Valve will take it down. In the end, it will have no other option. It is no doubt currently being inundated with complaints, demands for refunds and calls for the product to be removed from Steam. So what has its desire to back away from curating games and moderating content on its platform gained it? Angry customers and a heap of work it would not have had to deal with had Air Control never made it onto Steam.

Cheers, PCGamer, The Escapist.