Abstractism has been pulled from Steam for containing a trojan virus that turned the player's computer into a cryptocurrency miner.
We’ve entered into a new era of PC gaming, where simple, seemingly harmless games could contain malware that will hijack your computer and turn it into a cryptocurrency miner for the developers.
The game in question is Abstractism, a simple platformer that marketed itself as a calm and relaxing game to while away the hours. The game itself is almost ludicrously basic: you control a black cube that tries to bounce its way up a black and white world. Calling the game 8-bit would be an overstatement--it’s more like Pong than anything from the Nintendo-era.
However, soon after launching the game started receiving negative reviews from users saying that Abstractism installs a Trojan virus "disguised as a steam.exe process." Further investigation from YouTuber SidAlpha confirmed that the game does indeed install a Trojan onto the player’s computer that runs in the background and mines cryptocurrency for the game’s developers.
This process is called “cyrptojacking”, and it can be difficult to detect. However, one surefire sign is abnormally increased CPU and GPU usage, especially for a game as graphically light as Abstractism.
Another dead giveaway was a recent update by the game’s developer, Okalo Union. The update added “item drops” to Abstractism, but required the player to play for extremely long periods of time in order to acquire the items. By making the players run Abstractism for extended periods the developers hoped to maximize their cryptocurrency mining operation.
On top of that, the game would scam unsuspecting Team Fortress 2 players with fake items. One such item, called the Australium Rocket Launcher, normally sells for over $100 on Steam Marketplace. Abstractism hijacked the same art as the Abstractism Australium Rocket Launcher for their counterfeit in order to scam players into trading actually valuable items for their fake ones.
Eventually, Abstractism’s nefarious ways caught up to it. The game has since been pulled from Steam, with Valve issuing a statement via Kotaku saying that it “removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling, and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items.”
However, this raises some serious problems with Steam if someone could ship such a blatant and obvious Trojan virus under the guise of a harmless computer game.