Steam removed an Early Access game from sale after it received fervent criticism for being something of a disaster. Muxwell's Earth: Year 2066 went up on the marketplace in April priced at $20, but it's come under severe fire from fans and critics alike, with some calling it "broken," "a scam," and "early access at its most literal."
According to a GameSpot review, the build that was on Steam was a "barely functional disaster" that featured "a road, a junkyard village, some hills, a radar tower, some robots - and that's about it." The Escapist's Jim Sterling showcased that in a gameplay video, in which the game appears to feature a small, genuinely desolate, lo-fi wasteland map, as well as its fair share of bugs.
Valve stepped in to remove Earth: Year 2066 this week, but not because of quality issues; Early Access games are understood to be works in progress, and the level of finish can vary radically from one entry to the next. However, misleading marketing is another thing, and Valve clearly felt the game's portrayal on Steam didn't align with reality.
"On Steam, developers make their own decisions about promotion, features, pricing and publication," wrote Valve's Chris Douglass on the Steam forums. "However, Steam does require honesty from developers in the marketing of their games. We have removed Earth: Year 2066 from Early Access on Steam. Customers who purchased the game will be able to get a refund on the store page until Monday May 19th."
The game, which came through Steam Greenlight, is listed on its store page as "a first person sci-fi apocalyptic open-world game where your main aim is to survive. Set in post-apocalyptic future, you take on the role as a survivor of a nuclear war between USA and China. You became a mutant because of radiation. You need to get to the safe place, called 'God's House,' to survive. Dangerous journey is waiting for you."
As for current features, it claims to include an "early survival mode" in which players could "shoot enemies and try not to die." Players can take on the role of a droid who "moves like a human with realistic camera movement and freedom of movements," the listing adds.
The issues with Earth: Year 2066 may run deeper than false advertising. In a video for The Escapist, Sterling claims developer Muxwell took down critical posts in the game's Steam forum, and used an artist's copyrighted work without permission for the cover art.
There's precedence for Steam taking a game off its storefront for false advertising, after The War Z - now called Infestation: Survivor Stories - was removed back in 2012. That game eventually made its way back onto Steam for sale, but whether or not the same fate awaits Earth: Year 2066 remains to be seen.