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Wadjet Eye Games loses over 30,000 Steam keys to exploit

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More than 30,000 Steam keys for Wadjet Eye Games' The Blackwell Deception were pilfered yesterday after users took advantage of an exploit in the studio's giveaway, reports Red Door Blue Key.

Yesterday, Wadjet Eye offered free Steam keys for its graphic adventure to commemorate Halloween. Overnight, a group of downloaders found and took advantage of the key generator, draining away most of the 50,000 available keys. The sales provider Wadjet Eye was using, BMT, created the public site for the key generator. In response, president Dave Gilbert ended the promotion early, despite the initial plan to run it through today.

Gilbert noticed the issue after 20,000 keys were rapidly downloaded in a short amount of time and immediately canceled the offer. But even though BMT took down the site, it did not take down the key generator, allowing the 30,000 above mentioned remaining keys to be stolen.

All 30,000 keys obtained after the promotion will be disabled, Gilbert said, even though there is no way to determine which ones were obtained illegitimately.

"Yeah, it's the equivalent of a candy store giving away some free candy on Halloween, and the customers go in the back room, and steal their stock," Gilbert said in an interview with Gamasutra.

"I know people like to give them away, and trade, and that's fine," he added. "If they want to give them to other people, or give them to themselves, that's fine. But what they were doing was downloading them by the bucket-full, and hoarding these codes to sell them later, which I didn't anticipate, sadly."

According to Gilbert, player backlash came swift and hard. The original offer allotted one copy of the game per IP address, but those who downloaded more than one key may have masked their IPS or used bots, Gilbert said.

"People really wanted to play this game on Steam," he said. "It was just too much to deal with, and there was only so much effort I was willing to put into a free offer."