What started out as a goodwill Halloween gesture to the community by indie developer Wadjet Eye Games turned into a nightmare last night. Wadjet Eye Games made the latest game in its popular point-and-click adventure game series Blackwell Deception available for free. It was supposed to be available until midnight on November 1, but Wadjet Eye Games was forced to shut the promotion down early, leaving many who found out about the freebie later to miss out. Fans who didn't know what was going on were obviously peeved with the indie developer.
But it turns out there was a good reason for the promotion to end early: massive theft. Wadjet Eye founder Dave Gilbert told Red Door Blue Key today that he discovered (much to his horror) late Wednesday night that the Steam keys being generated for the giveaway contained the company's entire catalog of games. This was definitely not what Gilbert and company wanted. Eventually he found an option in Steamworks that retroactively removed games from Steam keys. His promotion was popular that it overloaded the servers at sales provider BMT... and his little fix caused a whole lot of problems later...
"I looked into it and discovered why. People were ordering multiple copies of the game - hundreds at a time. And collecting Steam keys for reselling later," Gilbert said. "This is something I didn't anticipate happening, so I removed the Steam keys from the giveaway and placed the game on a few other websites to use as mirrors. BMT made the game live again, and I hoped that was the end of it."
But it wasn't the end of it. The Steam keys being removed led to "a large number of angry emails and tweets" from people outraged that they couldn't get their free game on Steam. Diligent in trying to fix the problem, Gilbert and BMT set up a "one code per IP" system, returning Steam keys to the giveaway. Gilbert says that this brought the resellers back, who "easily masked their IPs and began chewing through the Steam codes again."
This ultimately led to Gilbert canceling the whole thing.
"I had been monitoring the giveaway and dealing with the Steam issues and download problems for 36 straight hours and I was exhausted," he said. "There was only so much work I was willing to do for a free giveaway, and I had reached my limit. I told BMT to cancel everything and put the regular sales page back up. I finally collapsed to get some much needed sleep!"
But that's still not the end of it. When Gilbert check back in after getting some sleep he learned that BMT had removed the link to the Steam key generator, but not the generator itself. A link to this made it online and 30,000 Steam keys were stolen before he woke up. Gilbert is trying to get those keys disabled.