Well this is embarrassing. Insel Games has officially been cut from Valve's Steam network when the developer was caught reviewing their own games on Steam. As of right now, the company's entire game library has been dumped from the popular PC gaming client.
The news broke when one Redditor posted an email that the CEO of Insel Games, Patrick Streppel, to his staff about purchasing, and reviewing, their latest game on Steam. He didn't outright say it, but Streppel heavily implied that there would be consequences for those that did not participate.
The font is small, so here's what the email reads:
It is passed 3AM in Malta now and I am wrapping up my work day to get some sleep. Sadly, Wild Busters revenue has so far not met expectations and it will be even more difficult to turn things around during the weekend as the first day is usually the strongest. We are trailing at 50% of Otherland and 25% of Guardians of Ember.
One of the major issues: the fact that we do not have a review score. In fact, we have currently 6 reviews. If I alone count the people in IME and Insel ... I count more than 6 people. I had sent an email earlier but I was told that some of you announced to colleagues that you do not want to make a purchase of the game and/or a review. Frankly, this leaves me pretty disappointed. Of course I cannot force you to write a review (let alone tell you what to write) - but I should not have to. Neglecting the importance of reviews will ultimately cost jobs. If WB fails, IME fails and then we will all have no job next year.
So I am asking you to do the following: buy the game and present me the receipt until Friday night for which (together with a claim form) you will be re-imbursed within 24 hours, or explain to me tomorrow why you do not wish to do this. I would like to discuss this individually and privately with each of you and will follow-up.
The email was dated for December 14th of last year, immediately following the date issued; positive review numbers spiked. How we were made aware of this issue comes from a Valve representative taking to the Steam forums to issue the following response:
"It has been recently reported on Reddit that the publisher for this game, Insel Games Ltd., have been attempting to manipulate the user review score for their titles on Steam. We have investigated these claims, and have identified unacceptable behavior involving multiple Steam accounts controlled by the publisher of this game. The publisher appears to have used multiple Steam accounts to post positive reviews for their own games. This is a clear violation of our review policy and something we take very seriously.
For these reasons, we are ending our business relationship with Insel Games Ltd. and removing their games from our store. If you have previously purchased this game, it will remain accessible in your Steam library."
The Insel Games CEO then confirmed the legitimacy of the email in a statement to Kotaku. Moral of the story, don't fake reviews.