This Week In Indie: “Day One: Garry’s Incident” Devs Censor Criticism
Game criticism is evolving and taking different directions, one of these very different directions is in the YouTube arena where videos and particularly Lets Plays are becoming mainstays for critiquing and exploring games in fun and interactive ways. YouTube is a great marketing tool for indie developers trying to promote their games and get the word out, but at the same time indie devs should expect criticism to be leveled at their game. This is the way the games industry works and indie devs are no exception.
The video above details an incident, ironically, that happened recently involving the famous YouTuber and PC game critic John “TotalBiscuit” Bain with one Wild Games Studio, and their studio chief Stephane Woods. Woods claimed copyright infringement, for monetizing content, when TotalBiscuit released a video actively criticizing Wild Games Studio’s Day One: Garry’s Incident. The general practice is that when you ask for review code from a developer, and they oblige, there will be some form of revenue made in order to pay the bills of the game critic or journalist, and allow them to continue business as usual. On a Steam forum post, which has been deleted, Woods makes the claim as such (with grammatical errors included):
We protected out copyright because Total Biscuit has no right making advertising revenues with out license.
Incidentally (rolling with the punches here), TotalBiscuit showcases in the video how his video is being specifically targeted by having the highest view count and for its critical nature. Other videos shown, which are typical Lets Plays, are fine and dandy by Wild Games Studio’s standards. Such copyright claims are not typical of the industry as it’s now considered an industry standard that any video or article published on the web by a gaming journalist or critic will in some way be monetized. The fact that Wild Game Studios is playing the copyright claim card just shows their inability to process criticism and realise that they won’t be selling a high number of units. Because really when it comes down to it, in this instance, the devs want to sell as many units as possible even when the quality of the game may be sub-par. Here is a summary of the tweets, from TotalBiscuit, explaining the whole fiasco:
“Well, cat is out of the bag since someone on Reddit found it. My Day One: Garrys Incident video was copyright flagged by the devs”
“I should point out that this is a game I was sent review code for, it was also the top-ranked video on Youtube for that game.”
“It is fairly obvious what they are doing here, abusing Youtubes copyright system to censor criticism of their product.”
“This happened 2 days ago, we contacted them for an explanation and have heard nothing. Giving them til Monday to respond before goin nuclear”
“It should be pointed out that US Fair Use doctrine exists in particular to protect criticism from being censored in such a way”
“It is a pro-consumer doctrine and with good reason. Maker and Polaris will come down on them like a ton of bricks come Monday.”
“Long story short. Dev sends code, code used to make critique, dev dislikes critique, dev abuses system to censor critique.”
“Its annoying that this had to come out, we were trying to solve it privately, but hey, copyright claims are public viewing on Youtube.”
“If I’ve seemed a little grumpy over the last few days now you know why. Dev attacks my livelihood for doing my job, silently fuming for days“
As it stands, it seems like TotalBiscuit will be taking legal action against Wild Fire Games Studio for the copyright claim and abuse thereof. TotalBiscuit has in no way infringed upon any copyright claims by Wild Fire Games Studio. This is a precarious situation indeed. Most suspicious is that in earlier review scores on Metacritic Day One: Garry’s Incident was receiving glowing “perfect” reviews, which is not the case at present. It will be interesting to see where developments head in this incident, as it appears that Wild Fire Games Studio is in the wrong.