Mike Maulbeck courted a fair amount of controversy in late 2014 after going on a Twitter tirade that resulted in the unwise posting that he was going to “kill Gabe Newell” after the game his studio worked on, Paranautical Activity, was incorrectly listed as an Early Access title.
Unsurprisingly, the game was pulled from Steam and it wasn’t until February last year that the game reappeared on Steam as a “Deluxe Atonement Edition”. But that’s unlikely to matter to Australians, since the game has been refused classification.
The Classification Board listing has only popped up in the last 24 hours, with the author and publisher (Code Avarice, Digerati Distribution) matching up with the details on Paranautical Activity’s Steam listing.
According to the board’s reasoning, the first-person rogue-like received an RC rating because it fit within its parameters for games depicting, expressing or otherwise dealing with “matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified”.
The current owner of the rights are Digerati Distribution, which purchased them from Code Avarice following the aftermath of Maulbeck’s tirade. Doug Lombardi revealed that Valve had stopped talking to the developer following the posts, and it wasn’t until Digerati bought the IP, code and rights to the game that it was able to be listed on Steam once more.
Digerati told me via email that they would “look at removing the ‘offending item'” to comply with the Classification Board’s requirements. “The reason they gave was ‘illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives and rewards’ – the prescribed drug in game is Adderall and picking up the item gives you a 15% speed increase,” Digerati’s Nick Alferi said.
“I have asked if we can resub [Paranautical Activity] without the item, waiting for a reply,” he added. Alferi also confirmed that while Code Avarice and Maulbeck are no longer affiliated with the game.
I’ve reached out to Code Avarice and Mike Maulbeck for comment regardless, but had not heard back at the time of writing. Given history and the language on Maulbeck’s Patreon, however, I wouldn’t bet on Maulbeck’s response being conciliatory.