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Valve puts game auction on hold after users discover exploit

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'The elves are working frantically to get the issues sorted out.'

Yesterday, Valve launched a unique holiday promotion on Steam, one that let users bid on games in a virtual auction house. But it didn't take long before something went wrong — the auction is currently on temporary hiatus after some users were found with suspiciously large amounts of virtual currency.

The basic concept for the auction is this: instead of bidding real-world dollars, you can convert Steam items like trading cards into a virtual currency called gems that's used for the auctions. More than 200,000 games are available through the auction, covering around 2,000 different titles. Bidding kicked off yesterday, with plans to give the games to the highest bidders between December 15th and 18th. But right now bidding has come to a temporary halt. "There have been some issues with gems," Valve explains.

"There have been some issues with gems."

Those "issues" appear to relate to several exploits that allowed some users to gather more than their fair share of gems. The Steam subreddit is home to reports of duplication exploits, allowing users to double their gems, while others have found the gems in their account to simply disappear. Some users have been spotted with close to two billion of the virtual currency. However, many of those accounts appear to have since been closed, suggesting that Valve is working diligently to solve the problem.

Valve initially had little to say on the problem, playfully stating that "The elves are working frantically to get the issues sorted out, and the auction will start again as soon as they're done." But in a new update on the auction site, the company claims that the service will be back up shortly, with everything reset; gems will be returned, and previous auction bids have been cancelled. "The Yeti has been contained," Valve explains.

Updated at 3:08PM with new information from Valve.