A game developer has been banned from Steam after users claimed that it had attempted to sue 100 users of the platform for $18 million—for the crime of leaving bad reviews.
Digital Homicide, which has released dozens of small games mostly available for a couple of quid each, had its titles removed from Valve’s popular digital distribution platform on Friday night. Its boss, James Romine, was granted a subpoena by a court in Arizona apparently allowing him to demand the release of “identification and associated data” of anonymous Steam users.
The lawsuit listed in turn the misdemeanours of dozens of John/Jane Does, which include counts of “harassment,” “stalking,” and “cyber-bullying.”
In a brief e-mail sent to Vice’s Motherboard at the end of last week, Valve’s marketing veep Doug Lombardi confirmed that “Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers.”
However, Romine hit back over the weekend, accusing Valve of failing “to provide a safe environment” by not dealing with a high volume of abusive comments from Steam users and showing “a reckless disregard for the wellbeing of their community for profits.” Romine said:
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. The lawsuit that was submitted in regards to a handful of Steam users has been labelled by the media and now by Doug Lombardi’s statement as ‘being hostile to Steam users’ in general which is incorrect.
The lawsuit recently filed is solely in regards to individuals where no resolution was able to be obtained from Steam to provide a safe environment for us to conduct business.
He went on to point out a number of examples of the admittedly bracing abuse he and his company had received.
Predictably, users haven’t taken kindly to the lawsuit, and aggressive comments on the developer’s Steam group have been pouring in.
This is not Digital Homicide’s first brush with controversy. Earlier this year, the studio pursued a separate, yet-to-be-settled lawsuit against the semi-celebrity game critic Jim Sterling, demanding $10 million in damages for a series of bad reviews of its games going back to 2014.
Romine’s GoFundMe account, set up to fund the suit, has made just $425 of his $75,000 goal, even though he claims he “received a pile of feces in the mail” and that he had had messages saying things like “Your wife is a whore,” and “I hope you die in a fiery car crash.”
Source: Ars Technica