Valve Remove Digital Homicide’s Games From Steam For Suing Users Over Comments

Digital Homicide are known for two things: releasing a great many janky, junky games; and being fiercely, litigiously protective of those games. The small studio were best known for suing games critic Jim Sterling over his videos tearing into their games, but they’ve probably one-upped that. After Digital Homicide launched a lawsuit against 100 Steam users, Valve have pulled all the studio’s games from the Steam store.

Digital Homicide allege these users were involved in stalking, harassing, and even impersonating them. Valve say they have “stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers.”

Digital Homicide are a small operation run by brothers James and Robert Romine. They’d released a dozen games on Steam, priced at a few dollars tops, and had more trying to reach the store through Steam Greenlight. Their games are mostly… well, see what John made of Galactic Hitman. They’re cheap and not-so-cheerful and, in another timeline, surely would’ve quietly sunk without a trace.

In this timeline, well! Digital Homicide came to fame after wavy ‘Tube man Jim Sterling made a video mocking their game The Slaughtering Grounds. Digital Homicide reacted by having Sterling’s video temporarily taken down with a dodgy copyright notice, as well as annotating his video with their own review. It sparked a public shitshow. As Sterling kept making videos on more of their games, Digital Homicide tried talking with him but ultimately, earlier this year, launched a lawsuit against him, accusing him of libel and seeking $10 million (since increased to $15m).

It seems to me that Digital Homicide reacted badly and have kept escalating badly. They’ve managed to enrage people (rightly) concerned about censorship through spurious copyright claims, as well as people with strong opinions on who is or isn’t a Proper Developer making Proper Games which deserve to be on Steam, and people who enjoy hooting at drama. Disappointingly but unsurprisingly, some people have taken it way too personally and slung some mighty unpleasant words and deeds Digital Homicide’s way. The studio claim they even received poo in the post.

The lawsuit against Sterling is still in the mix, but now Digital Homicide are going after non-famous people too. As Kotaku reports, the studio are trying to sue 100 pseudonymous Steam users for alleged harrassment, stalking, criminal damage, and criminal impersonation. Their claims include that people said awful things and/or variously alledged that Digital Homicide switched names to shake their reputation, stole assets, are scammers or con artists, toss games off cheaply so people buy ’em to farm Steam trading cards to sell, and so on. It seems some of those also feed a belief that Sterling is collaborating with an organised campaign against them. Basically, Digital Homicide claim these hundred folks are trying to ruin them. They’re trying to subpoena Valve to discover the real people behind the usernames [update: er, the judge already granted it], and Valve are none too pleased.

Games from Digital Homicide are no longer in the Steam store (though people who already bought can still play them on Steam) and their Greenlight submissions are gone too. “Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers,” the Steamlords told Kotaku.

Digital Homicide have responded to Valve’s statement, explaining:

“What has actually transpired was a lack of resolution from Steam in regards to moderation of their platform which might sound like a tough job to do, but coming from a company that brags its profitability per employee is higher than Google, it just shows a reckless disregard for for the well being of their community for profits. We submitted numerous reports and sent multiple emails in regards to individuals making personal attacks, harassment, and more on not only us but on other Steam customers who were actually interested in our products.”

They go on to share a few of their collection of comments they’ve received, of the usual ha-ha-hilarious “kill yourself” variety. Which is obviously an unacceptable – not to mention tired – over-reaction to a video game being bad. Digital Homicide continue:

“By removing us they have taken the stance that users have the right to harass me, tell me I should kill myself, and insult my family. If I try to defend myself against said actions then I lose my family’s income. If it wasn’t for 2 years of experience of dealing with Steam on a regular basis, this disgusting stance would seem shocking to me. The only thing that prevented me seeking legal counsel for a long list of breach of contracts, interference with business, and anti-trust issues was the fear of losing my family’s income. Since that has been taken away I am seeking legal representation.”

Oh, it’s all a big stinking mess, isn’t it. Digital Homicide released bum games, as was their right. Sterling ripped the piss, as was his right. Some Internauts over-reacted as if personally wounded by the existence of a bad game. Then Digital Homicide’s attempt to squash criticism made this another flashpoint where genuine concerns were jumped on then drowned out by people itching for a fight, and it all spiralled horribly with poor decisions all round.

In another timeline, Digital Homicide simply ignored Jim Sterling and you’d likely never have heard of them.

All of Digital Homicide’s games are still sold on Itch.

From this site

95 Comments

  1. bandertroll says:

    Lol so hard at this shitbags.

  2. Laini says:

    Imagine if they put half as much effort into their games as they did this kind of thing. But that requires work and talent and effort so to hell with that eh?

    Valve probably could do more to moderate it’s user base though.
    Valve could probably do more in regards to a lot of things mind you.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Frankly it’d be less effort and more worthwhile to filter some of the crap that gets into their store courtesy of scammers like Digital Homicide.

      Fortunately DH at least are stupid enough that they’ve filtered themselves from it, practically an e-Darwin award.

      • Andrew says:

        That (alleged) behavior of those (and others) Steam users have nothing to do with a quality of games. You not solving the problem here. You shifting it to somewhere else.

        • ButteringSundays says:

          I agree. Both the users in question and the developer are bad guys here. There’s no righteous saviour to root for in this shitscapade.

          Reminder to our young friends: online harassment is not any more OK than real life harassment. It’s a crime – and making bad video games isn’t. Telling other human beings they should kill themselves for making art you didn’t like is actual madness.

          Going after a reviewer was a capital D dumb move though. I assume they see this as a potential exit strategy for their business (whatever it is that they consider their business to be), but that’s pretty much 101 Streisand effect stuff right there. And if their lawyer has told them they have a case I’m pretty sure they’re lying (a lawyer, lie? never!).

          • ButteringSundays says:

            Turns out they’re representing themselves. Hooboy! I hope the judge isn’t too kind to them, and that getting this thrown out isn’t going to cost Jim too much money. The American court system is seriously broken.

          • a very affectionate parrot says:

            Just because someone claims harassment doesn’t mean you should take those claims at face value, particularly if it’s an insanely litigious person with a history of not telling the truth.
            A bad review is not harassment. I would guess that a lot of these claimed death threats etc… are false and simply mentioned to gain sympathy from people they deserve no sympathy from and to make their fraudulent case seem more legitimate.

          • Shuck says:

            The problem is, DH aren’t (just) targeting their harassers here – they’re going after those who posted bad reviews, those who accused DH of questionable behavior (spamming Greenlight with huge amounts of games, using multiple names to submit games, forming groups to game the Greenlight process and give away games for good reviews, stealing assets, etc.), those advocating that Steam deal with their behavior by banning them, etc. Looking at the documentation DH used in their legal action, the closest thing to harassment is someone commenting that perhaps “Digital Homicide” should switch to “physical suicide”. Maybe the people they’re targeting also harassed them elsewhere and that’s not included in the complaint, but it seems as though the claim that they’re going after harassment and stalking is an excuse they’re using to mask their own bad behavior in going after those with legitimate issues. Although they seem to be characterizing bad reviews as “harassment,” so they may just be delusional.

          • Danley says:

            You’re ignoring this (or it got added after you posted these comments): “They’re trying to subpoena Valve to discover the real people behind the usernames [update: er, the judge already granted it]” so the court at least thinks it’s relevant enough to allow discovery of these 100 users, whether they’re more than one person, minors, etc. That Valve is retaliating makes it hard not to conclude that they’re protecting their users’ potentially illegal behavior. You can condemn the American justice system all you want, but if you were the one doing business with a distributor who allowed its customers to threaten its partners, this is part of how you protect yourself. Forget that it’s Valve for a moment, and picture some business or industry you don’t have faith in, then imagine if they were letting their customers not only campaign against your product (fairly or unfairly) but resort to threatening you to remove your party from the relationship. Imagine if you could resort to this strategy whenever you didn’t like anything, and rather than facing consequences for it you get rewarded by the company kicking the other guys out.

            This isn’t to defend Digital Homicide, but more so the mechanism of discovery in US courts when a bigger company is hiding that information from you, information you have to assume is necessary for your personal safety, not just your legal standing.

          • Danley says:

            But if their complaint doesn’t seem to detail anything resembling a threat to anyone’s personal safety, I’m not sure why the court granted that.

          • anHorse says:

            It’s not harassment though, they’re suing people for saying their games are shite and a judge fucking granted their request.

            That’s disgraceful

          • lurkalisk says:

            Judges aren’t infallible, you see all kinds of decision making. Just because it was granted doesn’t mean there’s merit to DH’s claims. Hell, maybe the judge just wants to be thorough…

      • DThor says:

        They carefully managed a few minor blights into an apocalyse, through perhaps ignorance of the internet, or maybe they believe their own shit? Just made them a target – someone else showed how they literally reskinned a fighter jet scroller to a space scroller by changing clouds to stars and charging for it. Obviously little talent here, but they could have eked out a living if they just shut up.

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah, sad part is, that DH not that wrong there.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      The funny thing is, Jim Sterling was (relatively) positive about the last Digital Homicide game he showcased. He seemed genuinely happy that those guys had finally released something approaching some levels of acceptability, and had a lot of encouraging words.

      And then they went ahead and sued him.

    • Shuck says:

      Oh, they put plenty of effort into making games – as the huge number of games with which they were spamming Greenlight can attest. They just weren’t putting any effort into the games individually, which is what counts. (Some of their games could have been made in a day or two, others were just graphic-swaps of their existing games that could have been made in hours.)

    • KDR_11k says:

      I suspect that if DH wasn’t peddling shit Valve might have been more inclined to work with them. Also I suspect that the 100 people they’re trying to sue are mostly not sending death threats given that DH loves to overreact to any criticism.

      • KraiZor says:

        I looked at their website where they have some examples of the “harassment” some of it was legitimately harassing but some of it was just people saying things that are just rude.

  3. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    Of course this person’s from Yuma. Of course.

  4. Jaykera says:

    This sounds more like a Digital suicide to me.

  5. PsychoWedge says:

    I wonder how big their sales were in the last 2 years. It was a great show and one they nurtured and facilitated rather happily imho. But it all hinged on Steam, the availability, the mass audience, the shitty greenlight system and the nature of the internet, where everybody can find they own little corner of entertainment.

    so this is probably seriously damaging to that weird thing they had going…

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      They said it supported two families. I doubt that their direct games sales rake in serious cash since actual, real and good indie teams fold every other day. Plus DH gave away tons of keys and sold bundles with all of them for pennies.

      I guess trading cards are seriously profitable but they bit the feeding hand.

      • Baines says:

        Back when you could actually make a bit of money selling cards on the Steam market, there was a dev studio that used that to promote one of their games. They took a super cheap game, gave it a steep discount, and said that users could make that money back from selling the Steam cards the game gave.

        I want to recall that studio was Digital Homicide, but I cannot guarantee that detail. It honestly might have been another.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          It’s Steam and the game publisher who are the winners even with bottom tier priced cards today. The minumum price for selling a card is €0.03.
          I’m pretty sure with the lowest-price it’s still €0.01 to the seller (store credit, Steam holds the real money in escrow with interest-benefits), €0.01 to Steam and €0.01 to the publisher (real money).

          Say you have 8 cards in every set, that’s 16 with the Foil sets. If you have 30 games published on steam, that you sell really cheap or do regular give-aways of to boost your card sales. That’s 480 different cards, not including profile backgrounds, emotes and boosters.

          If the sales of each card average to even 20 sales each day at the lowest price for badge and gem farmers that’s 480*(20*0.01)= €96 x30= €2880 per month.

          Of course it might be significantly lower or higher in reality depending on the real statistics and currency differences but I think I was pretty conservative with the numbers.

  6. wisnoskij says:

    It was my understanding the whole copyright deal with video reviews is sort of possibly legitimate. Was there not some big deal a few years ago where some dev took down all the reviews of their games and others wrote some text allowing their product to be used in such a way as to allow reviews of it? And way before that Nintendo almost closed down some international SB tournament, as they legally were not going to allow them to stream their game.

    At least I do not remember any court/youtube decision overturning a developers ability to claim copyright infringement on any screenshots/video taken of their game.

    • Baines says:

      Reviews should be protected under fair use. The problem is that YouTube isn’t actually concerned about protecting fair use. YouTube takes a hands off/no liability approach that pretty much complies with the plaintiff and tells both sides to work it out on their own. That is why it is so easy to abuse YouTube’s takedown systems.

      As for Nintendo and EVO, that was a different matter. First, Nintendo wanted to do more than stop the internet streaming of Smash Bros play. Nintendo originally wanted the entire Smash tournament cancelled. I’d guess that falls under unlicensed public broadcasts or whatever, where it can be illegal to show stuff like movies to a crowd above a certain size without permission. Nintendo switched to demanding the internet streaming of Smash play be cancelled, which would have been hours of footage.

      (EVO did end up streaming Smash that year. When the news hit that Smash streaming might have to be pulled due to Nintendo, Nintendo quickly found that they had stepped with both feet into a PR hornet’s nest. Not only had they upset a sizable and vocal chunk of their own fanbase, Smash had gained its EVO spot due to fans raising over $90k for cancer research. That gave the story a very strong anti-Nintendo spin, and gave it legs beyond just videogame news coverage.)

    • ButteringSundays says:

      No. Journalism is fair use, if not constantly attacked.

      Whatever they’re actually going after Jim for it’s not a copyright issue (libel, I assume?).

      • Baines says:

        The threat was for libel. The GoFundMe campaign to raise legal funds was for an online defamation lawsuit. (The campaign itself was launched with the claim that while they had a lawyer’s assistance, they had lost so much money due to Sterling that they couldn’t afford to retain that lawyer.)

  7. Baines says:

    Alice, your portrayal of the Digital Homicide/Jim Sterling feud is *way* too kind to Digital Homicide.

    Sterling wasn’t just making more videos about their games, and they weren’t just reacting badly. Sterling covered various other matters, such as Digital Homicide creating multiple new publisher names to publish their titles, creating a game giveaway site under another name, organizing a group to game Greenlight voting, threatening to sue if Sterling didn’t do what they wanted, and the like.

    • frightlever says:

      DH didn’t threaten to sue Jim, they sued him. But as I understand it one of the brothers was representing DH as they didn’t have a lawyer. They don’t have a lot to lose as I don’t think the defendant can claim damages for a frivolous case in the US. Happy to be told I’m wrong though.

      • Baines says:

        No, before DH actually sued Jim, they threatened to sue him if he didn’t do various things. They did so with a rather clumsy “this is not a threat” blatant threat. Jim covered that bit of news.

      • Ur-Quan says:

        Well you know what they say: A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

        Seriously their chance of winning this is almost zero.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        Under Federal law, the claimant’s lawyer has to demonstrate that the suit is warranted. Given that one of the brothers is actually representing them, I suspect that they’ve just lied. That can incur severe penalties but it depends on the state and they can be applied to the claimant AND the lawyer.
        The suit against Jim Sterling may even fall under a Vexacious lawsuit, depending on which it’s actually being held in.

        • Herkimer says:

          Sooooooort of. You’re correct in that, under Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party who files papers with the court has to certify that they’re not being presented for an improper purpose; that the legal claims are non-frivolous; and that the factual claims have or likely will have evidentiary support.

          But no, you don’t have to prove that your suit is warranted: lawsuits get bounced out of court for lack of a meritorious claim all the time, without anything bad happening to the plaintiff. Usually it just means that you lose.

          Judges can use Rule 11 to sanction plaintiffs for particularly egregious filings, but in my experience, you really have to go out of your way to piss off the judge for that to happen.

          Also, under federal law, vexatious litigants are those who file many frivolous cases, not just one or two. If Digital Homicide keep it up, they may get tagged, but it doesn’t seem like they’re there yet.

  8. Freud says:

    While I get that it can be annoying to be on the receiving end of a horde of internet mockers who haven’t played the games, by all accounts they are terrible games.

  9. frightlever says:

    “They’re trying to subpoena Valve to discover the real people behind the usernames, and Valve are none too pleased.”

    Trying? They have. A judge granted the subpoena on Friday I think. Back when this was news. I don’t think Valve have officially responded to the subpoena yet, but I would imagine if they fight it the case will go away.

    It’s really easy, and inexpensive, to start a legal action, much more expensive to fight for one. (Which is the big difference between taking Jim Sterling to court, compared to Valve.)

    This is all about publicity.

    • wisnoskij says:

      With regard to the expense; From my understanding they tried crowdfunding and when that did not work they decided to represent themselves.

      • frightlever says:

        Yeah but that won’t actually work in court. A vexed judge will throw you in pokey for a weekend if he thinks you’re wasting the court’s time. Depending on where the suit was filed I think you may even get hit with damages for bringing a vexatious lawsuit.

        • KDR_11k says:

          An amused judge may provide you with plenty of rope though…

  10. shocked says:

    In march they started a croundfunding campaign to raise 75.000$ for an “Online Defamation Lawsuit”. They earned 425$ so far.

    They are extremely convinced of doing the wrong things, I guess.

    • gunny1993 says:

      IIRC they shut one of them down because people were pledging like 1 penny, which actually cost them money because of how gofundme works

  11. HeavyStorm says:

    1) It seems Digital Homicide made a mistake of who are Steam customers. They expected customer treatment, but they are suppliers.
    2) When you make something “public” (for some definition of public), like a Game that is displayed on a global digital store, unfortunately, you become a public figure yourself. Most developers are “hidden” behind a company name, so people usually don’t tell EA to kill itself, but I believe that many have said it should go out of business. So, I’d say, either accept it or change business.
    3) People do not have the right to make treats to anyone, public or not. Also, there’s a line between criticism and smearing. I’d say DH has a right to seek legal action over the second. But again, my second point takes precedence.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      A final point: they are right about the lack of moderation on Steam and their heavy handed solution for dealing with community issues.

      All you have to do is check the latest news regarding the new review and grade system. Instead of moderating, they implemented a cheap solution that hurts a lot of devs.

  12. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Well, now you’ve gone and set yourself up to get sued.

  13. Shinard says:

    I actually want DH’s case to be approved, and I’m kinda sad because it probably won’t be. Suing Jim Sterling was idiotic, wrong, and I’d be willing to bet illegal, but they have every right to pursue action against Steam users harassing them. It’s about time someone took action against the (serious) “haha kill yourself you useless human being” comments, so we can show that that stuff is wrong, and won’t be tolerated any more.

    But it’s Valve vs. a pair of brothers representing themselves. Who’ve already made a doomed libel case. Not a chance.

    • demicanadian says:

      I can’t help but wonder how RPS would react if a female developer would get removed from steam for sueing steam users for real/not real (to be decided in court) harassment.

      • Shuck says:

        Given the nature of the “harassment” in this case (people pointing out the games are bad and accusing the developer of engaging in seriously questionable practices, both of which seem to be accurate), and what the “harassers” are motivated by (the developers using legal action to shut down bad reviews), trying to compare this with developers getting actually harassed for being female is totally absurd. So yes, of course the two, totally different, situations would be treated differently.

        • demicanadian says:

          They claim their families got harassed, turd in a mailbox isn’t pretty either. Should they prove it true in court before they can feel harassed?

        • quijote3000 says:

          And how do you think “they” would spin the story. It would be one month of hearing about “harassment against women”

          • April March says:

            I’m quite sure the article’s text would be exactly identical. Can’t say the same for the comments.

    • Generico says:

      Yeah. That’ll go over great in court.

      “Your honor. The prosecution intends to prove that the defendant is a meanie and a poopy-head who hurt my clients feewings. As you can see, my client has been so hurt by the defendants claims that he can no longer even.”

    • Shuck says:

      “It’s about time someone took action against the (serious) “haha kill yourself you useless human being” comments”
      I agree – but that’s not what’s going on here. Their definition of harassment includes “people who post bad reviews of our games.” It also includes people who make accusations agains them, including: using sock puppets, being scammers or con men, using cheap assets (or not paying for assets), spamming Greenlight with a flood of games, and others. Some of these are accusations that could be (dis)proved, some a matter of opinion, and some seem to be true (e.g. that they use accounts with different names), but they don’t like how commenters characterized them. All in all, it’s the kind of treatment that any game developer who releases a disappointing game gets to some degree, but the developers here have more or less created the problem by needlessly antagonizing reviewers and critics by expending a great deal of effort to silence them.

    • ukpanik says:

      If someone threatens to kill you, you don’t sue them, you contact the police.

      • Thurgret says:

        It appears to me, and I may be wrong, that police taking action over threats made online is still so rare that it remains newsworthy every time.

        • KDR_11k says:

          That’s in part because US law has an extremely narrow definition of what’s actually a threat vs hyperbole.

        • anHorse says:

          Mainly because the law recognizes that “go kill yourself lol” isn’t an actual threat

    • mrskwid says:

      I kind of agree it could be a big deal.
      Even if it just make’s valve care about what is said on there site.
      But as they dont have a lawyer and are suing someone else in a suit that a think will be thrown out.

  14. SparringLlama says:

    Soap! Soap with a prize inside!

  15. StevieW says:

    I think we should cut these guys some slack, they’re clearly hard working, good honest game devs, that most other devs could learn a lesson or two from.

    Now, please don’t sue me.

  16. Generico says:

    You’d think someone who makes a living selling shit in a digital box wouldn’t be so upset by receiving shit in a mail box.

    They’re going to try to paint this like it’s some kind of david vs goliath story, and valve “terk his jerb!”; but in reality this is just a talentless hack who makes a living selling garbage getting angry that people are calling him out for being a general piece of crap. He got into the wrong business, and now since fraud and bullshit didn’t work for him he’s gonna try to sue his way to financial success.

    • Generico says:

      Also, how bad are your games and how bad is your reaction to criticism that somebody actually took a dump in a box and mailed it to you? Like…that’s not free. Somebody put in time and paid dollars to do that. There was thought and planning. They ate beans. They drove to the post office and got one of those “if it fits it ships” boxes. There was plenty of time for them to calm down and think “hey, maybe it’s not really worth all this effort to mail a deuce to some guy I don’t even know.” and they did it anyway.

  17. Doogie2K says:

    Like a blind squirrel, DH accidentally found an acorn of truth here:

    What has actually transpired was a lack of resolution from Steam in regards to moderation of their platform which might sound like a tough job to do, but coming from a company that brags its profitability per employee is higher than Google, it just shows a reckless disregard for for the well being of their community for profits.

    The fact that their creations are the defining example of this is, sadly, lost on them.

    • April March says:

      They certainly appear to be self-righteous assholes, but selling dozens of shitty games is orders of magnitude less harmful than threatening people on the intenet.

  18. KDR_11k says:

    The studio claim they even received poo in the post.

    Then turned around and put it on Greenlight

    • Jediben says:

      Well why go to the effort of curling out your own when you can reuse someone else’s?

  19. TeePee says:

    Agreed with those that have pointed out that although it certainly appears that DH are purveyors of really shitty games (and also appear to be not the best human beings out there either), they actually have a point with the abuse they’ve received from customers, and almost certainly have a point with Steam failing to act.

    Someone (Valve) needs to put on their big boy pants and start seriously cracking down on this kind of stuff – since when has it been okay to tell someone to kill themselves for anything, let alone making a sub-standard piece of entertainment? I’m going to be honest, I’ve never read them, but I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be a more perfect violation of Steam’s ToS if it tried, so why aren’t they doing anything about it?

    Twitter has been getting a kicking in the media for a while now about its failure to get a handle on trolls, I would have thought a forward-looking company like Valve would have been a lot more keen to avoid a similar fate, as it’s not like the media need an excuse to go after gaming and/or gamers.

    • Jediben says:

      Steam did act. Just because they didn’t act how DH wanted then to doesn’t mean they didn’t handle it. DH doesn’t have the right to sell things on Steam.

      • Unsheep says:

        The problem is that the developers are claiming that serious death threats were made against them on the Steam pages, which then prompted Valve to remove these pages. This can be seen by a judge as ‘removing evidence’ if the devs can prove these threats.

        I’m pretty sure Valve doesn’t have the right to allow death threats, and other threats of violence, to occur on their commercial site as well.

        • DragonDai says:

          There were never any serious death threats though. Go to Digital Homicides blog, they have pages of user posts there. The worst you’re gana find is “Kill yourself” or “You don’t deserve to live.” Is that shit unacceptable? You bet. Is it “serious death threats or threats of violence?” Fuck no.

          Digital Homicide are two giant man-children who are crying about legit criticism that became nasty internet trolling BECAUSE of their actions. In short, THEY started the “go kill yourselves” and they’re surprised that that anonymous assholes on the internet said “No YOU!”

          IF there was anything legitimate, sure, Steam should have acted. And, in other situations with other devs Steam HAS acted on legitimate threats. But there wasn’t anything even close to legitimate against DH.

        • P.Funk says:

          So the developers claimed something. Valve can counter claim they dealt with it and find the allegations spurious.

          Is it just that some people are so in favour of curbing the shit posting tendencies of the internet that they’ll believe any allegation of it? Is it that Valve is seen as the perennial ‘do nothing’ and so we just believe they’re being unfair?

    • gunny1993 says:

      Why would steam act? They need all the money and people they have to …. do …. something ….maybe?

    • Unsheep says:

      I can see the Fox News coverage already: ‘Steam, the world’s most popular game distributor – a safe-house for death threats and other threat of violence’.

      No matter how these lawsuits go, it’s terrible PR for gaming, that’s for sure.

      • Premium User Badge

        keefybabe says:

        The problem is trolls and morons exist everywhere and the only real, effective way of getting rid of them would be to turn the Internet off or be uncontactable. The problem is, these guys have got previous for going after people, not for true harassment, but for having the temerity to publicly bash their games.

        I can tell you right now, if you generate any kind of art and put it out there then get ready for people to bash it and for people to be dicks about it. That’s part of the system.

        Is saying “kill yourself” to anyone acceptable? No. It’s juvenile and if you haven’t thickened your skin enough it’s very hurtful. But sticks and stones, man.

        • hpoonis says:

          “Sticks and stones…”

          I have little time to spend telling anyone to kill themselves, wear proper shoes, or get rid of their orange hair. If anyone becomes so affected by the anonymous comments of some entity they are NEVER likely to encounter in person then they do deserve to be either locked up in a loony bin or top themselves and do the rest of the world a favour. I have no sympathy for anyone who claims that bob_unknown from some strange location called them something or said something which affected their ability to function. That person was probably mentally lost to begin with and it would only be a matter of time before they went from the world spectacularly and took a bunch of others with them.

          • April March says:

            One bob_unknown won’t harm, but what about ten? A hundred? A thousand? A thousand every day?

            What if your job requires you to be online and there are so many bob_unknown’s saying shit about you that on a Google search of your name five of their sites appear before yours?

            This doesn’t appear to be what happened to DH, here – they seem to have received a few death threats and equalled dozens of legitimate complaints to it. But your point, that not being hurt by anonymous harassment is on the harassed, is one clearly being made by someone who’s never been the harassed.

    • lokimotive says:

      It’s worth pointing out, I think, that telling someone to “kill themselves” or that they should die, is by a wide margin, one of the least effective rhetorical devices. I’m honestly not sure why you would ever want to type that to someone, especially in a review.

      The Internet, as a whole, needs a critical writing course very badly.

  20. geldonyetich says:

    I can’t just shout down and threaten detractors of my work? Damn, I might have to be a reputable developer of good games to succeed.

  21. Unsheep says:

    This makes Valve look guilty of hiding evidence, in case the developers have actual proof of death threats being made on Steam.

    This is another example of how messed up the Steam site is: gamers posting death threats to developers, developers retaliating on gamers giving bad review scores. Steam is a terrible mess, it should remove the forums and review sections altogether.

  22. Deviija says:

    I’m not going to touch on the controversy of the company, the quality of their games, and the nature of shady or non-shady practices people claim they engage in. All that to the side, the issue of death threats and online harassment and terrorizing game developers, journalists, critics, etc. is a problem so rampant and out of control that *something* needs to be done about it. Social media platforms, gaming platforms like Steam, it’s all frothing over into a never-ending stream of offal. Things do need to change on many levels and fronts.

    Under no circumstance is it okay to flood someone with harassment, personal (death and/or rape) threats, “go kill yourself” aggressions, and the like. It’s not “just being a troll,” it’s much more insidious than assuming such things are just primarily immature preteens running amok (which is something that is constantly blamed and used as a way to brush aside the issue and the real harm that is involved). Most of this behavior is by older adults that know far better. Sadly, in the US, police and even the FBI does very little for online harassment and threats, even high profile cases in the last few years get little more than police saying, “Well, stay off social media/the website/whatever” as a solution. When your business, income, online profile, whatever is rooted in an online presence, that’s not a solution.

    So yes, I’d definitely love to see some high profile cases (in the US) where the book is thrown at grave terrorizing offenders, to set an example and start things moving. As well, platforms like Twitter and Steam need to do better with dealing with moderation and community issues in their own userbase and the breaching of ToS and so on.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ericusson says:

      Behind it all is a simple economic equation.
      Moderating and regulating content means actually hiring people which costs money and so the first amendment is just used for optimizing profits for all companies on the web.

      Simple cost externalization hiding under the shiny buckler of free speech.

      • April March says:

        Precisely. What gives any of these companies money is ‘engagement’, and harassers are engaged with the system. If a hundred people harass a user out of a website, the hundred harassers are collective worth more to the website, so besides putting out the PR fire companies feel no need to do anything to stop it. That’s why harassment continues rampant.

  23. left1000 says:

    DH actually did delete a lot of posts steam users made. That was what happened first. Those users no longer able to warn people that DH were bad via DH steam discussion areas (because DH had control of those areas) sought to warn others on other parts of steam.

    DH basically already had the right to moderate their own portions of steam, but they were upset that when they deleted people’s posts the user didn’t end up entirely banned from steam. Which they were upset with value for.

    Basically, there’s no defense of DH at all. If you write that someone’s game is bad, then your comments are removed, you’re likely to write worse comments elsewhere.

    • DragonDai says:

      Yeah, it’s really kinda shocking to see that people here and elsewhere are saying stuff like “I’m not defending DH but those people writing mean things deserve to get sued.” DH did a bunch of awful stuff. When that awful stuff was addressed in forums they controlled in a normal, civil way, it was deleted, met with scorn and derision from the devs, and the user was silenced.

      So those users went elsewhere, where DH had no ability to silence them, talked about their treatment at the hands of DH, and the rhetoric escalated. Well, DH didn’t like that much, so they ratcheted up their rhetoric as well. And they wonder why they got so much hate?

      Honestly…try this in real life. Go talk shit about Wal-Mart & the Waltons in a Wal-Mart. You’ll eventually get kicked out. But stand outside and talk shit about a Wal-Mart & the Waltons and Wal-Mart can no longer do shit about it. Why? Because Wal-Mart doesn’t own the sidewalk in front of the McDonald’s that shares a parking lot with them. In the same way, if DH wants to ban people from their part of the Steam Discussion forums, so be it. But that’s where their authority ends.

      • P.Funk says:

        What surprises me is that people are taking the allegations at face value. Its like they apparently are so in favour of stopping bad behavior on the internet they’ll believe it the moment they read it happened. Its like a newspaper headline that’s total rubbish that people immediately believe because its in line with their prejudices.

        • April March says:

          Just because they’re very likely suing people for fair and truthful critiques it doesn’t mean that, amongst them, there aren’t death and rape threats. Do you honestly think there aren’t? And those are never OK, now matter how shitty one’s game or behaviour is.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Ericusson says:

    As much as I think it is a creepy low stupid reaction from a bad company, I kinda enjoy watching shit posters getting dragged in some legal BS.

    • P.Funk says:

      But is this proportional to what they did? Are some shit posters being used to leverage a broader attack on people who were simply angry but legally critical?

      Anytime you’re compelled to face litigation its a huge invasion of your life, far more than most of the shit posting is into other people’s lives barring the truly heinous stuff. The nature of litigation is also that you must go through the process even if the verdict will fall on your side.

      All in all litigation is not something to be welcomed in my view.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ericusson says:

        Don’t get me wrong it sucks for them to be dragged into this.

        But the internet having become such a cesspool of trolls and grievers all the way to swatting, well, if there is nothing I can do over the situation, the pendulum going the other way brings with it a sense of amoral satisfaction which I a bit shamefully but honestly expose here.

  25. eLBlaise says:

    “In another timeline, Digital Homicide simply ignored Jim Sterling and you’d likely never have heard of them.” I want that timeline so badly. :(

    On a more serious note I’m really curious about how this entire debacle is going to change Steam and Valve’s approach to curation. Digital Homicide isn’t the only developer who practices customer abuse, one need only watch a few of Jim Sterling’s Steam Greenlight videos to realize this.

    I also wonder if this is going to change the way people behave on the internet, where the cloak of anonymity has emboldened even the greatest of cowards towards malicious commentary. Perhaps this timeline is not without interest after all?