This Week In Indie: Indie Game Controversy Galore!
Last week the whole controversy with TotalBiscuit and Day One: Garry’s Incident was big news and showed how devs should not go about marketing their games and dealing with criticism. Particularly when a game is released in sub-par quality. Well this week, we’re going to take a look at two notable controversies in the indie scene.
The first indie game controversy involved a dev studio called The Fun Pimps who were running a Steam Greenlight page for their zombie game 7 Days To Die which received a DMCA, and had their page taken down, by Tripwire Interactive’s (the developers behind the zombie game Killing Floor) lawyer. The Fun Pimp’s Greenlight page was taken down due to a stolen 3D zombie model from Killing Floor that was sold to The Fun Pimps as a legitimate asset through the Unity asset store, which was stolen by a dodgy third party. Tripwire emailed The Fun Pimps in due course, but received no response in enough time and Tripwire called in their lawyer to deliver the DMCA. Thus, as a result, their game’s Greenlight page was promptly taken down.
This lead to animosity between both Tripwire and The Fun Pimps as both were the victims of a fraudster, who got of scot-free. This situation was eventually resolved when The Fun Pimps removed the stolen zombie model. Following which, Tripwire dropped all the charges and 7 Days To Die’s Greenlight page was online once more. This whole situation could have been avoided if communication was effective from both developers, but instead it became a legal conundrum.
This next controversial event comes to us courtesy of The Stanley Parable. Due to the branching nature of the game there are many instructional videos, and one such instructional video on “Choice” in the game was met with allegations of racism. This instructional video presents a man named Steven with two choices, and is shown in the video as such:
He could spend years helping improve the life of citizens of impoverished third-world nations.
And the other choice being:
Or he could systematically set fire to every orphan living in a 30 kilometer radius of his house.
Essentially, the video depicts the man Steven either lighting a cigarette for the black boy, or setting him on fire. One author Oliver Campbell, and a teacher, wrote into Davey Wreden, the developer of the game, via Twitter of their concerns with the racist depiction in The Stanley Parable. The dialogue between mainly Wreden and Campbell was both pleasant and calm, and Wreden came to a compromise for the game, and everything ended on amicable terms for both parties. This in itself is a great example of how good PR should be followed through with, instead of what happened to TotalBiscuit. A criticism of The Stanley Parable was recognised and addressed cordially by Wreden instead of the whole situation becoming an online shouting match.
This is how the indie scene should be evolving, and devs should communicate more effectively with their audience. They are developing niche games with a very niche audience, whom is important to their financially stability and progress forward. Bad PR may be, in some situations, good PR. It can, however, end up marring your reputation with your audience demographic before you realise it.