Bad games happen. Sometimes a game is rushed out the door before being completed, sometimes a game is not tested thoroughly enough to clear out bugs. Every now and then a game concept just does not work the way it was intended to. Being able to recognize what games are these flops before wasting money on them is important for those of us whose spending pays the wages of the people who make good games.
Wild Games Studio does not understand this.
The developer has started an attack on negative criticism of its game, Day One: Garry’s Incident. The game has been almost universally panned, citing gameplay issues and large numbers of bugs, with there being multiple videos on YouTube of people ‘breaking’ the game.
While one would expect a responsible developer to release patches correcting bugs and updating or improving gameplay issues, Wild Games Studio has instead been trying simply to hide how bad the game is. Early efforts were harmless and familiar enough, with the initial Metacritic score being inflated with obvious tripe, but after the familiar review inflation started coming far more serious attacks on criticism.
The video heading this article was posted by Totalbiscuit. For those who are unfamiliar with him, he is a video game reviewer who is extremely active on YouTube. He is well-known within the industry and as he mentions in the video has a particular passion for helping smaller games and companies get the credit they deserve.
In the video he explains where Wild Games Studio abused YouTube’s copyright infringement policy to remove the video he posted reviewing Day One: Garry’s Incident. He does not rant about the right of criticism for most of the video, instead presenting evidence showing why the charge of copyright infringement was a blatant lie in the first place.
Wild Games Studio’s efforts did not stop with Totalbiscuit.
They have been attacking Steam threads criticizing the game, offered free keys for the game for people who voted for it on Steam Greenlight, and have been in all ways entirely unapologetic about the attempts at censorship.
Clearly how Steam Greenlight was meant to work.
Totalbiscuit does a fine job explaining the ins and outs of why this is a bad thing for YouTube, content creators, and honest journalism. I will not try to rehash those topics. What I will address is a fact developers need to be extremely aware of.
When you intentionally mislead the public about a shitty game, you drastically reduce the chance we will ever buy another one from you.
When Aliens: Colonial Marines came out, people were pissed. The game was noticeably inferior to the product gamers were promised from advertising and demo footage, and there was no advance warning given. Quite the contrary, the information available was obviously enough false to lead to court orders prohibiting them from continuing the ad campaign they had put together at launch, since it called the shown footage actual in-game.
Game over, man. GAME OVER!
The companies responsible, Sega and Gearbox, both suffered huge amounts of criticism for this effrontery. Both companies had betrayed the trust of the gamers they depended on as their customer base, and many of those gamers will be significantly more careful about spending money on another game from them.
Some of those gamers might never buy another game from them out of principle.
Sega is a big company, and appeals to a wide enough audience to survive that kind of negative publicity. Wild Games Studio is not Sega. The truth is getting out about the game’s poor quality and their censorship, as the game’s Metacritic now clearly shows. While gamers can usually forgive a bad game, there is very little that makes gamers wary faster than the proof that a company is willing to lie to them in order to get them to buy one.
The next game from Wild Games Studio will need to be awesome to make up for this bad PR, and even then there will be many who refuse to buy it at least until they see the proof of how good it is.
That is the price you pay for censorship. If we cannot trust you to be honest with us about your game, then we will not trust you to be worth risking our money on. You need that money more than we need your game. Be very aware of that, developers.