Steam game Abstractism accused of cryptojacking players' PCs

Cal Jeffrey

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Update (7/30): As of a few minutes after publication, Valve has removed Abstractism from the store.

The original story follows below:

Developer Okalo Union describes it as "an absolutely trivial platformer [with] a stylish, minimalistic design and a relaxing atmosphere." However, several players including YouTuber SidAlpha describe it as a cryptominer in disguise.

Upon installation, several antivirus suites are flagging two files in the game. The first file (abstractismlauncher.exe) is pegged as malware and the second (steamservice.exe) is listed as containing the Win32/Zpevdo.A trojan. Users report high resource usage while playing the game.

"[Abstractism has] high CPU usage for a super simple game," said one unknowing Steam user. "I think it also has a memory leak."

The developers claim that the two files in question are launchers. They claim the reason antivirus is being triggered is that Abstractism is built on the Clickteam Fusion 2.5 engine which is apparently unsigned and unoptimized. However, that does not explain why the admittedly "minimalistic" game requires so many resources.

Okalo Union is also being accused of designing the game's rewards around long gameplay sessions to keep the miners running. According to a July 23 post from developers, they implemented Steam item drops in the game. However, to get all the drops each week, players must play for increasingly longer times.

"Drop time is dynamic and increases after each drop (you need 15 minutes to receive the first drop, 30 minutes for the second drop, 60 minutes for the third drop and so on). You receive more rare items if your playtime is long ('60 minutes' item drops are better than '15 minutes' drops). Drops limit resets on Friday, and you should be in game to allow Abstractism reset it."

SidAlpha believes the devs are encouraging long playtimes so they can have their miners running "24/7." Also, requiring players to be "in-game" on Fridays allows them to collect calculated hashes and distribute new ones.

In the same post, Okalo Union denies that the game is cryptojacking PCs. It claims that the files in question are needed "to connect to the Steam [sic] and grant items to your inventory." It also provides instructions on how to run the game without those "services."

There was also a post by the developer on July 24 that was confusing and contradictory that said the game was used to mine Monero, but then went on to deny that they mine cryptocurrency (above image). The post was subsequently deleted, but not before someone got a screenshot of it.

Regardless of whether or not Abstractism is cryptojacking computers, it's not that fun anyway. It has gotten mixed reviews, and positive reviews have not had much to say in the way of praise other than the game is "relaxing." You won't be missing much by skipping this title.

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