Last week, a visual novel called Glare1more jumped from its average player count of 0.8 to reach 34,469 concurrent players. The game has Steam trading cards, and it briefly went free during that time, so the jump in players (and bots) looking to harvest those cards is to be expected. The problem is that the developer never intended for the game to be free.
Instead, it looks like this was a Steam glitch – one that let players pick up a free copy of Glare1more by clicking a single button on the game’s SteamDB page. The same thing happened with RPG Maker title Fantasya Final Definitiva REMAKE, and its developer noted over 175,000 copies of the game getting “activated illegally.”
YouTuber SidAlpha hit the Steamworks developer forums to dig up some developer insight on what’s happening, and it appears to be an issue with turning free game packages into paid ones. Both games mentioned above had free versions – one was available for a PC cafe programme, and the other had a free demo.
In both cases, the APIs that SteamDB pulls directed the free links to paid versions of the game, and it seems this issue has affected dozens small developers. A thread on SteamGifts shows many of the affected titles, though most of the glitches have been fixed at this point.
We’ve reached out to Valve for comment, and will update if we hear more.
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While in most cases, the free games have been removed entirely from the libraries of users who took advantage of the glitch, there’s still a lasting affect – the influx of trading card farmers in these games means the market’s been flooded with cards, and the value of the drops attached to each game have dropped precipitously.