Monday, September 19, 2016

Suing 100 Steam Users Results in Removal of Games

Digital Homicide Studio (DH) is trying really hard for that golden poo award for worst company in America.

Over the weekend Steam pulled the entire DH collection of games after a court order requested Steam to turn over the contact information of 100 users. In a quick statement to Kotaku they commented that ""Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers."

Since DH now has a history of suing people for defamation, I'm going to make the blanket "please don't sue me" statement before continuing on. Partly in satire, but also to appeal to their good will that they won't bankrupt a student who cares about games. So, here we go.

Please don't sue me.

I am going to do my best to write this article with an objective point of view while presenting the facts. I do utilize humor and sarcasm to get the message across, and it's meant to be taken as such. It's not intended to do harm. Rather, it's a lighthearted way to provide news to the readers.

By the way, please don't sue me too. I still have $45k in student loans to pay off and don't make a penny off this blog. You're better off going after more important game reviewers who may have a higher salary then myself. Maybe. I'm not entirely sure about that since writers are not paid well, in general. So yep. No sue. Thanks!

Back to the story:

DH's co-founder James Oliver Romine Jr., filed a motion against 100 Steam users for defamation after they posted poor reviews. Romine Jr. claims that the users have harassed him for up to 21 months and have amassed over 200k postings on Steam, YouTube, and Reddit. The dollar amount is $18 million for personal injury. The Judge for the case has issued a subpoena to Valve to reveal the identities of the Steam users to the court so they can move the case forward. Steam/Valve has the right to challenge the request to protect their users - at this time they haven't commented further about what they plan to do. But as a preventative measure, they have removed all of DH's game catalogue to ensure no other users become involved, and to protect themselves from any potential slander.

Romaine Jr. has responded to Valve's decision through DH's website and that he's seeking legal representation for the breach of contract with the removal of the games from the Steam library.

This isn't the first time DH has used legalities for defamation suits. Earlier this year they filed a lawsuit against game critic Jim Sterling for a poor review of The Slaughtering Grounds. DH requested a take-down of the review and $10 million for damages. It was later increased to $15 million.

As both cases remain in pending status, it asks the question of when is it too much and too far for a developer? Do they have the right to fight back against poor reviews? Movies, television shows, theater productions, and books all face the same dilemma. But reviews are part of the gig. They give insight for those who may not have the vast knowledge of the writer, or to help with the purchase decision. You're going to have poor reviews. It doesn't matter how magnificent your product is, there will be some people who don't like it. And that's okay! No product is perfect. I think DH needs to review their stance on responding to critics and take into consideration how their answers will affect their business in the long run. I understand that those games are their lively-hood. They spent a lot of time and love making them. But with the good comes the bad. I'm not saying that harassment should be tolerated, but look at the cause behind it. Is deleting every negative review on Steam and filing lawsuits an appropriate way to respond to your customers? Probably not.


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