Generally you’d expect an Early Access Fraudster article to be about an indie developer, but the subject of today’s piece is none of than Atari itself, developed by the applicably named Salty Games, and it goes by the name Asteroids: Outpost. Asteroids is a modern day spinoff of the classic arcade title, a combination of Minecraft and DayZ that challenged players with setting up a base and defending it both from falling asteroids and the attacks of other players. It sounded like a great idea on paper, in practice it wasn’t so great.
Its continued sale is also outright fraud.
If you go on the Steam store page, the game currently holds a mostly negative rating with the top reviews imploring anyone who reads it not to throw down the $29.99 suggested retail price and to avoid the game and company at all costs. Despite the game still being available for purchase, according to Steam reviews the servers haven’t been in operation going back as far as November if not further, and there has been no contact or discussion from the Salty Games team. The official website is dead, all of the social media accounts are empty, and the game is completely unplayable.
In short: The project’s been abandoned, and either no one has bothered to tell Valve, or they just aren’t listening.
Judging by the forums, and the number of people who claim to have flagged the title over the months with no response, the latter seems more likely. Games suddenly shutting down without any notice from the developers isn’t new, as I said before, but this is something you’d expect out of an independent developer and not someone with the backing of a name like Atari. Granted, the Atari that exists today is a shell of the former corporation, one that mostly exists to license its properties out to the few companies that will buy them, but that is neither here nor there.
I tried contacting Salty Games before this article went up, the website is down and unfortunately I can’t find a single way to get in touch with the developers. The Asteroids: Outpost Steam account hasn’t been logged into in over two hundred days, and the group’s Facebook account hasn’t been posted on since last April. Salty Games doesn’t have a company website and Atari still acts like the game is still on sale on their own. If the studio has shut down, it hasn’t been announced and Google is turning up no results.
In addition, I contacted Atari’s press people to try and figure out what was going on and what happened to Salty Games. They haven’t responded. We also contacted Valve who, similarly, did not respond.
At the very least, we can sleep easy knowing that no one seems to actually be buying the game. After all, virtually no one bought it when the servers were live. According to Steam Charts, Asteroids peaked at 42 back in 2015 and hasn’t gone above 2 since. Judging by that success, it seems possible that Salty Games was shut down so fast that no one had time to shut down the Steam store page.
Regardless of their refund policy, Valve still has an obligation to remove this item from the store. It is, in all definitions of the words, abandoned and forgotten by a developer that may not even exist anymore. It died in early access yet continues selling tickets to a show that will never be performed.