Digital Homicide Drop Lawsuit Against Steam Users

Digital Homicide have dropped their lawsuit against 100 pseudonymous Steam users, explaining that they can’t fund it because their business is now trashed. The two-man studio are known for bad games like Galactic Hitman and The Slaughtering Grounds – or, perhaps more accurately, for the stink raised around them. This came to a head last month, when Valve pulled all Digital Homicide games from the Steam store after Digital Homicide subpoenaed them to reveal the identity of 100 Steam users – users whom the devs claimed had harassed them and harmed their business. Well, now Digital Homicide are getting out of games and taking this lawsuit with them.

“The case dismissal was only due to financial reasons caused by the removal of our games,” Digital Homicide’s James Romine told TechRaptor. He continued:

“I believe the case was very solid. There were in excess of 140 false statements by the 11 steam users, tens of thousands of posts harassing myself and my customers, three direct interference with written contracts with third parties by steam users (some of which were competitors), and much more.”

Well, the merits of those allegations won’t be tested in court. Basically, the whole thing looks like a big mess of people over-reacting to Digital Homicide releasing bad games, Digital Homicide over-reacting to those over-reactions, then… it all spiralled awfully, as things often seem to.

Romine says that “insufficient harassment control mechanisms” is one of Steam’s big problems.

This seems like the end of Digital Homicide too. “It’s destroyed,” Romine said. “It’s been stomped into the ground from a thousand directions and use is discontinued.” He said that he’s “going back into the work force” – but he will continue to watch what happens with Steam.

The case is being dismissed without prejudice, mind – meaning they can retry later – so who knows if we’ll be back for another round of rubbernecking.

Digital Homicide’s suit again Jim Sterling, a games critic who’s criticised the company and their games, is still not settled.

From this site

68 Comments

  1. Bodylotion says:

    I had one of the top rated steam reviews for Slaughtering Grounds, not sure if they wanted to sue me aswell ;)

    Anyways, they should be happy their crappy games have been on Steam for this long.

  2. wykydtronik says:

    Steam is riddled with crap early access games, I wish there was more accountability behind early access and greenlight… I assume those game studios do whatever they can to avoid a class action lawsuit?

    • Deviija says:

      I agree about the glut of early access games and (lacking) accountability issues.

    • Sizeable Dirk says:

      I recently went through all my old bundle purchases and various digital stores to get some control over my mess of a digital library.

      There were more than a few (finger-pointing to groupees greenlight bundles) that are basically dead after getting greenlit without any word to purchasers. Others that got released to early access and never touched since 2014.
      The worst are devs making excuses and empty promises and then not a trace of action for years.

      Sure it was mostly bundle crap so I just deleted them but still bad behaviour and zero accountability.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I wonder how many of these games are people starting them with genuine intent, but after they get started realise that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, and have promised features that are basically impossible.
        Then they’re sat there, with a now dwindling pile of other people’s money and/or debts, and with a game that can never live up to the original promises (and certainly not the hype in people’s heads), and every day they don’t get any further makes them more depressed, which makes it even more difficult to do anything at all.
        And so on and so forth in a downwards spiral of a depressed dev(s) and angry users.

        • MajorLag says:

          Sounds about right. Getting that early funding is all about working the hype machine and selling people the game they imagine.

    • DThor says:

      Honestly, this is on the customers. I wouldn’t be caught dead throwing money at an unfinished game unless I truly felt there was enough there to entertain me now or I had an inordinate amount of trust in the devs. Otherwise, it’s tough tittie toenails, to quote a source. If experienced developers at major game studios can throw millions at bad ideas or horribly under-estimate budgets, why would you expect someone working out of their basement to be any different? To somehow blame steam for allowing devs to learn the hard way what’s involved in getting a game to market with this incredibly hostile and self-entitled demographic is like blaming a city for a restaurant that served you a crappy Italian sandwich.

      • Sizeable Dirk says:

        You would blame the city if they hand out the required permits but the menu is full of promised sandwiches that are different to the ingredients you get, or people risk getting sick because the city didn’t bother to have any qualified inspectors.

        • ButteringSundays says:

          Well in most cases councils DO approve property use. You can’t just open a restaurant in your living room.

          In this example you’d be hounding the food standards agency – the gaming equivalent would be something like the Meta score.

          For all the crap greenlight/ea has enabled, there’s a TON of amazing games that could never have existed without it, or would have never reached an audience.

          I don’t blame Amazon if I buy some shoddy electronics from them. I RMA and move on, just like I do on Steam.

    • C0llic says:

      You should only buy a game in early access if you like the product, or you’re willingly trusting a known developer.

      Class action lawsuits really don’t apply here. What you buy has to be as advertised (fit for purpose) at the time of buying. Anything else is a promise, and those promises won’t be legally binding because of the licence agreement you implicitly agree to when you install the game.

  3. PsychoWedge says:

    to say that he now has to go back into the work force kinda explains everything about their games, their company and their attitude. making games is hard work. if this fucker thinks making games is some holiday distraction he’s kinda getting what was in store for him for a long time…

  4. Halk says:

    And now crawl back in the hole you came from and never come back!

  5. milligna says:

    That must be the Invisible Hand of the Free Market that occultists describe.

  6. gschmidl says:

    Don’t let the badly animated door clip through your ass on your way out (and don’t fall through the world on the way)!

  7. StAUG says:

    Watch the RPS playthrough of Galactic Hitman if you’re wondering why their games are laughed as some much. (Hint: it’s because they’re the very height of buggy shovelware shit).

  8. geldonyetich says:

    Less a digital homicide and more a digital suicide.

    • CaptainDju says:

      You forgot the “amirite?” at the end, I’m forced to find your comment not funny, sorry.

      • geldonyetich says:

        Your feedback is appreciated, but digital suicide is no laughing matter. Every day, untold terabytes of information with nowhere else to go land in the bit bucket where their binary bits are forcibly set from 1 to 0, and sometimes 0 to 1. Please be understanding.

        • Emeraude says:

          I find melting those hard drives in avgas solves all those messy 0 and 1 issues just fine.

          Nothing sadder than a failed digital suicide attempt, even when you laugh it out. Might as well lend a hand.

  9. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    You know they’re a legit outfit when they’re giving exclusive interviews to TechRaptor.

    • Sizeable Dirk says:

      “We may have been painted in a negative customer light by gaming media, truthfully we’ve been fighting for lower prices and a more open market – which to me is the most important thing for consumers.

      • Distec says:

        Yeah, and nobody commenting on that article is buying any of that shit.

  10. Shuck says:

    I do wonder if they’ll just pop back up under another name, or if they’ve really decided that their revenue model is now blown and they can’t see another way of making money on games.

    • C0llic says:

      It wouldn’t surprise me if they tried. They have actually released shovelware on steam, and spammed greenlight under a few different names previously.

  11. eLBlaise says:

    I truly hope this debacle serves as a catalyst for change. Not just for childish game devs who are stupefied over criticisms of their publicly released content but for internet culture at large.

    That the judge in the case against Steam didn’t immediately reject their request to have the users identified should be of significant concern to those who enjoy the practice of casting out death threats and similar mean-spirited comments.

    As for those developers who see any criticism as blasphemous and worthy of abusing forum posts let this be a lesson, the market will always pass its judgements. Learn from the Romine’s.

  12. tslog says:

    Link below for the debate Jim stealing had with Robert from digital homicide.

    link to m.youtube.com

    The audio quality is pretty bad.

    Got to the part where Digital homicide dude complained that journalists like Jim Sterling were “parasites”. Seriously.
    Congratulations rock paper shot gun, your in the same parasite camp according to Robert.

  13. Marr says:

    I think Valve just rescued these idiots from themselves. That lawsuit was going to spawn the retributive class action suit from hell, if they were lucky.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together knew they’d fucked up when they decided to represent themselves (!) in a patently frivolous lawsuit. I’m guessing they finally spoke to an actual lawyer.

  14. TheOx129 says:

    What’s kind of sad about this whole debacle is that while Digital Homicide absolutely got what they deserved, some of the points that Romine brings up regarding Valve’s general “hands off” approach to reviews and such aren’t exactly wrong.

    Steam reviews are a mess (an example that immediately comes to mind is Total War: Warhammer: sitting at “Mixed” thanks to a lot of negative reviews that don’t even critique the game but just complain about the amount of DLC) and Valve’s general approach to any sort of Steam policies seems to be “ignore any problems until they reach a breaking point, then implement some heavy-handed and disruptive solution without any prior warning.”

    To a degree, I completely understand Valve’s reluctance to take a more active role in curating and moderating and such, since you’re inevitably going to piss people off no matter what. On the other hand, there are some major issues that even just a modicum of greater moderation could squash. For me, the two biggest issues are:

    1) Steam reviews are prone to harassment, a bigger problem than ever in an era in which YouTube streamers with devoted fanbases (link to kotaku.com) are a large – if not the primary – factor that determines the success or failure of an indie game

    2) Reviews that aren’t actually reviews but rather pithy shitposts by teenagers or manchildren seeking validation from the similarly-minded. I’m totally down for humorous reviews, but sifting through dozens, if not hundreds, of pseudo-greentexts or “herp derp, I pressed F to salute and died, would play again 10/10” to determine if I should buy a game is not entertaining or enlightening. Like, I’m not expecting Harold Bloom level critiques, but it’d be nice if Steam reviews were actually, you know, reviews.

    • Premium User Badge

      keefybabe says:

      We should be allowed to flag reviews as “technical issues” too. Too many people write reviews that are actually tech support tickets.

      • Chaz says:

        Yeah, there’s a lot of this in the Steam reviews. “I’m having difficulty getting this to run on my computer! 1/10” or “It’s a good game but I’m having some graphics issues.” thumbs down, negative review.

        You get the same sort of thing in Amazon reviews, where people give products 1 star because it got lost in the post or took ages to be delivered.

        • Titler says:

          Reviews that say there are graphics bugs are legitimate reviews. The game doesn’t work well for them, and they have the right to point this out, and expect higher standards. It would be more legitimate if they posted their specs of course… but then it seems you’d just criticize them for being tech support requests.

          Likewise, people have a right to downvote games for what they believe is excessive DLC. I love Total Warhammer, but the amount of DLC being released for it is indeed staggering. However when did we surrender the right to protest what we think is unfair pricing?

      • ButteringSundays says:

        [Not recommended] 0.0 Hours on record

        HOW TO CHANG RESULOTION??

    • plugmonkey says:

      Amen. Especially point #2.

      Did Digital Homicide really ‘get what they deserved’ though? They made shit games. They deserved to not sell many games. I’m not sure they deserved to be tarred, feathered and hounded through the streets of the internet to never ending derision.

      However shit their games were, they were better than the games Jim Sterling and his horde have made.

      • Tempus Fugit says:

        “However shit their games were, they were better than the games Jim Sterling and his horde have made.”

        Yes, because sleazy tactics, stock assets, multiple accounts and flooding the Steam store with crap are viable business practices. Boo hoo. I don’t hate the brothers as people but everything that’s happened is down to them and their own actions.

        • plugmonkey says:

          Down to them, and their own actions, and Jim Sterling picking up on them for his comedy roadshow.

          The onus of these shows isn’t consumer advice or exposing shady business tactics. It’s lambasting shit games, and the people who make them, for comedy value. His fans then set about lambasting the games and the people who make them too. It’s hardly surprising that some people react badly to that, and there really isn’t very much to laud about it.

          You can criticise someone’s work without making fun of it, or them, or encouraging thousands of other people to do the same. That’s kind of dickish, isn’t it? Seems a bit dickish to me.

          • Sizeable Dirk says:

            They deserve everything they got except the obvious stepping-over-the-line stuff like death threats, sending them poo in the mail etc.

            They actively egged on the people criticising them and used the negativity to get some kind of publicity for their trading card scams. They tried to silence reviewers, take down videos and suing people left and right.

            If they just kept pumping out shovelware and had been more careful with what battles to fight or had chosen to not fight at all they would’ve gotten away with pumping out crap forever. Nobody would’ve cared outside Steam reviews and the odd Youtube video.

            They choose to make copyright claims to take down videos.
            They choose to uploaded their own mocking anti-commentary video.
            They choose to have that insane voip discussion with Jim.
            They choose to start that greenlight exploit network.
            They choose to engage in that persecution complex breakdown to fight anyone and everyone, including Valve like a bad cartoon villain.

          • plugmonkey says:

            They chose all of those ill advised actions *after* becoming the object of Sterling’s ridicule.

            There’s a difference between criticism and ridicule. Criticise me all you like, but don’t ridicule me, especially not for failing at something you’ve never even tried.

            If you ridicule me and I react badly, that is at least partly your responsibility. Try it irl. Try telling someone they’ve done something wrong, and try mocking someone for doing something wrong, and see if they react any differently. When they do, it’s partly down to them, and partly down to you being a dick.

          • C0llic says:

            You certainly have a point, and you can love or hate Jim Sterling, but the fact remains the only reason anyone knows about these guys is down to their own ridiculous behaviour. That it ended up escalating to the point they actually destroyed their own company is tragi-comic at best, and that’s about the most positive light you can view them in.

            They produced their games with a staggering sense of entitlement to a knowing business model of producing shovel-ware, and their outrage at being lambasted for it was what led to all of this. If they possessed any shred of humility or self-awareness they should have realised that rocking the boat would be the death of them, and that the unmoderated cesspool of the worst corners of steam is the only thing that allowed them to make any money in the first place.

            The irony of their ill-advised crusade is astounding.

          • plugmonkey says:

            No. Unless I’ve got causality all wrong, the only reason people know who they are is that Jim Sterling came calling, and then everyone started laughing at them, and then things went downhill from there. They weren’t raking it in with some grand deception. They were making crap games that everyone already knew were crap. Sterling only ‘reviewed’ them because they were already known to be crap. The only surprise was that the developers apparently didn’t realise quite how crap.

            Yes, this would all have gone better with a bit more humility and self awareness on their part, but as I said before, go around ridiculing people in real life and see how long it takes before someone reacts in a way that is regrettable. The root cause is still you being a dick and ridiculing them.

            I mean, run this by me again: we ridicule people for doing nothing more than making bad games (when we’ve made no games), and then when they react really badly and the whole thing blows up in their face, we laugh? Why? Because they can’t take a shoeing in the right way? Because making bad games puts them so far beneath us?

            No, I’m still not getting on board with that. This all comes back to the root source of Jim Sterling and his fanboys being dicks. Bullying is still bullying regardless of how talentless or deluded your victim is, and if they react really badly and blow up their lives, that’s worse than if a talented, well adjusted person isn’t all that bothered. It’s not better and more worthy and more laudable and laced with tragi-comic irony. It’s worse. It makes a shitty thing shittier. Doesn’t it? When it all ends really badly, isn’t that the point where people are supposed to realise the shitty thing they were doing was actually a bit shitty? Not point and laugh even more?

            All they did was make bad games.

          • MisterFurious says:

            They made cheap, shitty games and Sterling called them out on one of them. Everything he says in his video is true. These spoiled brat dickheads could’ve ignored it, but instead, they threw a hissy fit and started suing anyone that said anything bad about them and hurt their poor wittle feelings. They should’ve let it blow over but they didn’t. They shouldn’t have sued anyone but they did. They’re morons and they’re arrogant children that can’t handle some negative criticism. They got exactly what they deserved.

          • C0llic says:

            If you charge people money for a product, and people deride it, that’s entirely their right. Digital Homicide are a company, and Jim Sterling’s ridicule wasn’t an hominen attack on them as individuals, it was an attack on their game, and its atrocious execution.

            That they reacted the way they did was utterly absurd, and that is why they became known. They issued an abusive copyright strike, and then posted a truly embarrassing reply video that actually was just full of ad hominen attacks.

            let me ask you a question. Can you ‘bully’ Sony? (as a youtuber posting a vitriolic review) Can you ‘bully’ any corporate entity in that manner? No, you can’t. And lets be clear I’m not talking about any form of RL harassment, I’m talking about Jim Sterling’s content. This thing gained steam because no one could believe that people purporting to run a company and sell a product would act as they did. Yes, they are a small company, but that doesn’t mean they’re excused from the same standards of behaviour any company selling video games should be held to.

            I mean really, if you want further proof of the absurdity of this mess just look at all the other games he’s reviewed, in just as scathing a way, and then look at all the other developers who did what digital Homicide did. You won’t find any.

            I really suggest you actually go back and watch all of the videos, the entire incident from its inception, because i find it hard to believe you’d be championing them as victims if you were informed, assuming you aren’t approaching this with a bias I’m unaware of.

            Indeed, all they did was make bad games. And torpedo their own business. That’s the key point here. They destroyed their own business, nobody else did.

          • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

            Well I listened to the entirety of the abortive nightmare that was Jim’s voip with DH’s Robert Romine, and it’s kind of difficult to judge who was the bigger prick. Jim was a typically snarky, rude, interrupting fuckwit, and Robert was much the same.

            Honestly the whole situation is ridiculous. We should perhaps consider the circumstances for a moment here….

            Robert Romine and his brother have been catapulted immediately into infamy across the whole of the gaming Internet. It can’t be easy to make four games and then be told by everyone that you suck big donkey dicks. Perhaps they should have accepted their criticism with a little more grace, but they have been in this life for all of five minutes. They have no PR department, no one telling them what not to say, and an entire internet of people pointing and laughing at how shitty they are. I have embarrassed myself on multiple occasions by saying fucking stupid things; thankfully I wasn’t under the scrutiny of the eternal hoardes of the net. Again, their behaviour perhaps is not excusable, but I can understand someone who is hurt and/or desperate lashing out in the way that they did.

            Jim Sterling on the other hand, was just as much of a dick. Again, I can understand his reasoning, but one thing he should have had is a little bit of professional curtesy. He DOES have PR people, and an idea of how to conduct himself in a professional environment, and I personally think he should have known better than to be such a douche, especially knowing how abrasive his general style is and how it might make people feel.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            You should watch the last video he made reviewing one of their games, in fact the last two. Despite everything he was encouraging them, making sure to highlight the positives and giving them advice on what he has seen from other game devs that has helped them to make good games.

            You may not like Jims style, he’s very much from the Lee and Herring school of wit, and like it or not, it is abrasive and deliberately makes people think, but with it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek. It’s also a style of wit far more popular in America where confrontational comedy is the norm, it’s worth remembering that before you judge him as being just as bad. In England, it looks far worse than it looks to an American audiences eyes, because the vogue in our comedy is happy clappy – Macintyre skipping across the stage, Dave Gorman Life is good or Russell Howard with his feelgoods at the end.

  15. KayAU says:

    I want to start by saying this: harassment is never okay. Suggesting someone kill themselves is never okay. While I understand why DH has drawn a lot of negative attention to themselves, those things are not excusable. People need to take some responsibility for their statements online.

    Next, I want to say that if you are putting out games for sale on Steam, you are subject to criticism. Criticism is not harassment. Digital Homicide produced what could be best be described as a large number of very low quality shovelware titles. I don’t know how successful they have been financially before this, but they were in no way entitled to success. Not even good developers are entitled to success.

    Now, while I think DH games were generally awful, and that they handled criticism very poorly, I will not join in the hate against the brothers themselves. I think that their actions show lack of comprehension rather than malice, and hope they are able to move on, and support their families doing other work.

    • Premium User Badge

      keefybabe says:

      I’ve run into this in music too. It’s likely true with any creative endeavour, if you put your stuff out there, people will comment on it, and not all comments will be nice.

      You have to separate yourself from your creations and not take it personally, if 99% of people say it’s shit, it’s probably actually objectively shit. And you can either fix that, draw a line under it and make the next one better, or refuse to accept it, be a keyboard warrior and alienate your fan base.

      Thing is, a game CAN be turned around. Look at orion prelude.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        The only turning around that anyone is going to do is when they realised they missed the bin, now they have to go and pick it up and do it again.

        Though it’s no excuse for death threats and inciting suicide. I think people with the anonymity of the Internet don’t care for the accountability of what they are saying, and that they are actually saying these things to human beings. It’s crazy as well, I don’t know a single person like this in my ‘real’ life; in some ways this frightens me even more, since they are probably keeping their awful lack of humanity a secret and I’m interacting with these monsters on a daily basis.

        • Premium User Badge

          keefybabe says:

          Death threats and suicide requests are 100% out of order. But if you make crap and are nice to your customer base I’d wager you’re less likely to get death threats than if you make crap and are an asshole to people.

        • ButteringSundays says:

          It’s likely mostly kids. Privileged kids that don’t know they’re born. Up-and-coming Redditors.

          Most adults that know and love other humans have come into contact with enough bad experiences to have far too much empathy for that kind of harassment. The outliers will often have a social disorder.

          So rest assured that you probably don’t know these people. But you probably did when you were at school, and you might bump into the odd one in the Tesco checkout (he’ll be the only under-60 buying the Daily Mail).

          • Distec says:

            You namedropped the Daily Mail and the Reddit in your sappy theorizing about human kindness. You need to include a third if you want to attain True Git status.

  16. C0llic says:

    It’s hard to feel sorry for them really. There are lots of games on steam just as awful (sadly) but starting with the Jim Sterling debacle, they’ve just made themselves into laughing stocks. Their lawsuit against him is also frivolous and stupid (I’m sure that one will be eventually dropped too, but they’ll try and hold off on that as long they can. I’m sure they blame him for their current woes).

    Looking on you’d think they might be deliberately stirring up controversy to sell their games, but sending a subpoena to Valve really hammers home that actually, no, they’re just utterly deluded. They did a podcast interview with Jim Sterling that’s still online somewhere; they come across incredibly foolish, highly ignorant of the law, and of any reality that isn’t their own.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Don’t feel sorry at all for these creeps. Other folks do honest work, not selling people loads of bull.
      If I wanna feel sorry, I watch the evening news.

  17. MajorLag says:

    If they had been smart, they’d have embraced the hate as part of their image and sought out the gag-gift niche. They could keep putting out shitty games and make them intentionally more shit because that’d be their market.

  18. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    This is a TERRIBLE blow for Unity asset store creators. Who is going to repackage all their cheap models and textures now?

    Oh wait, there are a thousand more such “developers” on Steam already, and more not even born yet.

  19. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Interesting, didn’t know about this but Valve apparently keeps close track on social gaming media and then pulled the path to exile -card on all of Digital Homicide’s multiple dev-accounts (which shouldn’t be allowed in the first place).
    Almost bought that “Deadly Profit” after voting to greenlight it but a 90% discount makes just a little suspicious.
    Yeah and I laughed so hard at some of those videos, my breast aches now. Insanely bad.