Steam fraudsters are allegedly stealing and selling the indie giant’s free Unreal ‘Superman’ demo. [Updated]

Steam fraudsters are allegedly stealing and selling the indie giant's free Unreal 'Superman' demo. [Updated]
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Update (noon ET): The Steam listing for Heroes City Superman Edition was removed shortly after this piece was published. You can still watch it this Internet Archive link. Butler-Boschma’s attack on the game is considered a scam archived here.

Valve has yet to respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Original story:

A video of Butler-Boschman’s Unreal Engine 5 demo I posted back in April.

Indie developer Tyson Butler-Boschma in April released a free, Unreal Engine 5-powered Superman Style Flight Experience where Now, he says, scammers have been selling a pirated version of this daemon for weeks on Steam without permission or any apparent action from Valve.

Heroes City Superman Edition Launched on Steam on November 1, developer Hero Game Studios described the game as a “unique experience where you can choose your hero and go on an adventure on a large realistic map”. It’s been that way ever since On sale for up to $35 Despite looking like a carbon copy of Butler-Boschman’s long-running free demo.

After marking the Steam version as a “cheat”. In a Nov. 1 tweetButler-Boschma Posted on November 9th in Steam Review Steam claimed that developer Hero Game Studios “simply downloaded, stole, and passed off this work as their own.”

He goes on the attack

In response to the review, Hero Game Studios claims that Butler-Boschma is one of their “former developers” who left the project and is now trying to claim the rights to the game for profit (although the demo is always available for free). “That’s a lie, I have no idea who they are,” Butler-Boschma writes. “They claim they made this game… also a lie.”

Butler-Boschma seems to have most of the evidence on her side on this one. On the demo page posted in April, Butler-Boschma describes the free “just for fun” demo as “just a test to see what a future Superhero game like Superman might look like in a large-scale modern city” AB5.” This page also aware that it is built on top of the demo The epic The Matrix Awakens urban examplethe main character was simply replaced by a “flying superhero version of my own design”.

“I made this demo myself months ago as a proof of concept, mostly using free assets,” Butler-Boschma writes in a Steam review. “I’ve always been open and honest…”

On the other hand, the Steam page for Heroes City only lists a Twitter account was created in late September and only released a few screenshots from the game. The studio has no other games or any web presence supporting its claim to the title or any long-term development work. And that’s not even getting into the obvious copyright issues of selling a game with “Superman Edition” in the title without obtaining any license from DC Comics or Warner Bros.

Preparing for an accident.
extend / Preparing for an accident.

Despite all that, Butler-Boschma also says Hero Game Studios is following through his YouTube account, using the copyright infringement system to remove a video of a demo I posted in April. That copyright infringement probably referring to the Steam page for the game as proof that Hero Game Studios “want this game we own removed from this video”.

Butler-Boschma, “They are directly attacking and harassing me right now” he tweeted. “I don’t feel safe submitting my personal information for a counterclaim…”

If all of this sounds a little familiar, it might be because of the similarities to NiFTy Arcade’s summer event. Copied and sold unlicensed versions of freely available HTML5 games on GameStop’s NFT marketplace. Both cases highlight how easy it is for fraudsters to take advantage of lax oversight standards in the market to try to profit from free games created by others, and how vigilant free game developers need to be for signs of such theft.

Valve has not yet responded to Ars Technica’s request for comment.

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