One of the biggest controversies this summer was an investigation by savvy consumers into a game called “Journey of the Light,” which was removed from the Steam store in early August. The game and the actions taken by its developer are so slimy and anti-consumer that it merits an entire column, in order to take a good look at one of the worst scams to hit PC gaming in a long time.
Last semester, I wrote a column for this newspaper about publishers and developers who deceived their intended audience. Trailers and gameplay that looked better than the final product, promises that were not fulfilled and misleading statements about the final product were all subjects of that piece. “Journey of the Light,” however, is far worse than “Aliens: Colonial Marines” or just about any other game I have ever seen.
The developer of this game, a man who goes by Lord Kres, exploited not only the Steam community, but brilliantly manipulated Steam’s own policies regarding trading cards and Steam refunds.
You might be asking, what’s the problem with “Journey of the Light?” Well, it’s impossible. No, not like “Dark Souls.” The game is actually unbeatable, as it contains one level where it is physically impossible to progress, rather than the eight levels as advertised. In fact, when one user when into the game’s files, they found that there is actually no content for levels two through eight. This wasn’t a game in alpha, but rather a game priced at $4.99 on the Steam page.
Lord Kres is no fool, however. He cleverly described the game as “one of the hardest games on Steam.” Though it’s worded as an obvious challenge, it’s not too hard to see the developer’s thinking here. Most consumers would throw themselves at the first level and eventually give up, frustrated, relegating “Journey of the Light” to the uninstalled portion of their Steam library.
In the interest of willfully misleading and lying to his customer base, the developer offered hints. First, hints were offered for Chapter Two, implying someone had managed to get past Chapter One. He also offered more plausible hints and encouraged frustrated players to look at the community hub to see if anyone had made a guide for the part they were stuck at. No one had made a guide for this game, and no one ever will.
Steam’s new refund policy, a fantastic addition in its own right, would solve this problem for most consumers. When a consumer requests a refund for a game, Steam’s only requirements are that the game has not been either owned for more than two weeks or played for more than two hours. In June, Lord Kres suggested that players could find additional hints on the game’s virtual trading cards, another part of the Steam market. However, the catch is that players can only get trading cards after playing the game for two hours, disqualifying themselves for the refund.
“I just heard that someone tempered (sic) with game files and noticed that there is only one level,” the developer said on July 29. “That is not how it is supposed to be.” Fortunately, Steam finally allowed players to get refunds regardless of playing time. In response to that announcement, Kres posted an apology for “a mistake with the builds” and declared he was “not a scammer.”
While consumers are frequently disappointed by developers, it’s worth remembering that people like Lord Kres and games like “Journey of the Light” do exist and do find their way onto platforms as popular as Steam. Despite his unconvincing protestations, Lord Kres is a scammer, and he was busted thanks to the investigative efforts of a few gamers. So, keep your eyes open, consumers, because scammers will take note of “Journey of the Light’s” initial success, and they will be back.
Edward Pankowski is the life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.