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Steam yanks $19.99 game from Early Access, offers full refunds

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Steam has removed the game Earth: Year 2066 from Early Access and is offering refunds to disgruntled gamers who paid its $19.99 asking price.

Earth: Year 2066, pilloried in Steam's forums as amateurish, ugly and broken, launched April 16. Since then, its developer, Killing Day Studios, has been accused of lifting artwork from elsewhere on the web and using it without permission, deleting negative feedback from the game's Steam page, and using sockpuppet accounts to talk it up.

Killing Day Studios appears to have no website or any regular web presence. The game's description and its updates on the Steam Greenlight page are written in broken English. Efforts to contact Killing Day Studios have been unsuccessful.

A Valve representative said users have until Monday, May 19 to claim refunds. "On Steam, developers make their own decisions about promotion, features, pricing and publication," he said. "However, Steam does require honesty from developers in the marketing of their games."

Earth: Year 2066 was the subject of an intense Reddit campaign to have it removed, and a withering critique by The Escapist's Jim Sterling, who also called it an example of the lack of quality control within Early Access.

The game was billed as a first-person, post-apocalyptic, open-world survival game. In that it also echoes another embarrassment pulled from Steam, the failure of The War Z back in 2012. That game, made by the lead programmer of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, was taken down from Steam after numerous complaints from users. It returned to Steam two months later and then resurfaced as something called Infestation: Survivor Stories.