Last week, Arizona based game developer Digital Homicide announced that they are dismissing their lawsuit against multiple users of the Steam gaming platform. This motion for dismissal was reported by the company through their Steam community announcements page, along with an attached copy of the actual filing. The news arrives two weeks after Valve Corporation opted to remove all of Digital Homicide’s games from their distribution service, claiming that the company was “being hostile to Steam”. Digital Homicide had filed a subpoena requesting the personal information of 100 Steam users who had harassed the company’s owners over the internet, as well as two lawsuits against both the aforementioned Steam users and gaming personality Jim Sterling.
In 2014, The Jimquisition host Jim Sterling posted an online video criticizing Digital Homicide’s recently released game, The Slaughtering Grounds. He additionally suggested that the developer had banned Steam users who gave negative feedback towards the game. This soon led to a heated feud between both Sterling and the developer, sparked mainly by a copyright takedown of the original Jimquisition video. Earlier this year, Digital Homicide filed the $10.7 million lawsuit against Sterling, citing reasons of “Assault, Libel, and Slander”. The company later accused certain Steam users of “harassment”, “stalking”, and “cyber-bullying”, initiating the secondary, $18 million lawsuit against these users as well. Now the latter lawsuit has is being dismissed.
This dismissal seems to suggest that Digital Homicide is beginning the process of backing out of all their legal suits, with one of the developers stating that they “can’t afford to go forward with the proceedings of the court case at the current time”. It appears that “financial troubles” could be the primary reason, with the removal of their steam games hurting the developer’s profits. Both lawsuits have been met with harsh criticism from the gaming community, and it’s possible that the chilly reception also played a factor in the dismissal. Though the developer has gone on to state that they had “nothing to do with the case other than some evidence”, the actual case file seems to suggest otherwise.
The situation between Digital Homicide, Valve, Jim Sterling, and the accused Steam users has been quite messy to say the least. Digital Homicide’s accusations of assault and slander from Sterling are regarded negatively by the gaming community, with many viewing the Jimquiistion videos primarily as legitimate critiques of game quality. On the other hand, Sterling’s insinuations that the developer had been censoring and banning users may have unintentionally initiated the very hostile environment on the Steam user boards, with malicious statements being directed personally towards Digital Homicide’s founders.
I believe that it’s important to look at this debacle through multiple lenses, as certain aspects of the case can be applied to the greater gaming experience at large. We absolutely should voice our concerns as consumers about gaming experiences that are of poor quality, but choosing to phrase those concerns cruelly and hatefully can possibly lead to repercussions, no matter how valid our concerns may be. You’ll never know for certain how that criticism will be taken on the receiving end.