Indie Dev Threatens Gabe Newell, Has Game Removed From Steam

Indie Dev Threatens Gabe Newell, Has Game Removed From Steam

If you're a developer selling a game on Steam, it's probably not the best idea in the world to tweet a death threat to the guy who owns Steam.

That's what indie developer Mike Maulbeck did earlier today, though, and it's now something he probably regrets.

The day should have started off pretty well! Maulbeck's game, Paranautical Activity, was included as part of a Steam store section highlighting Halloween-themed games.

Only, it was listed as an Early Access title, not a final product (the game had been only recently completed). That mistake sent Maulbeck into a Twitter tirade.

Things took a real nasty turn, though, when Mike — as Player Attack point out, not helped by his Halloween Twitter username being "Murderbeck" — tweeted the following.

Indie Dev Threatens Gabe Newell, Has Game Removed From Steam

He soon deleted the tweet, but despite his later regrets - Maulbeck tells Polygon " I didn't mean what I said" - the damage had been done (and the screencaps had been made).

"We have removed the game's sales page and ceased relations with the developer after he threatened to kill one of our employees", a Valve spokesperson told Kotaku. Which only made Mike's day/life worse.

If there's a lesson to be learned from all of this, it's... OK, no, I don't really need to spell it out.

Game dropped from Steam after Gabe death threat [Player Attack]

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    I misread the title as "Has Gabe Removed From Steam", and I thought it was going to be a story about a total badass.

    It didn't even look like a proper death threat, just one of those ones where you're really frustrated and say you're going to kill someone - Waluigi just beat you in Mario Kart, for example. "I'm going to kill Waluigi."

    Still pretty unprofessional, though.

      Obviously he wasn't serious but this is less like "Goddamn blue shell! I'm going to kill Waluigi" and more like me in Call of Duty when someone snipes me through a wall from the other side of a map and I say "I'm going to find out who xXx_sm0ke_w33d_xXx is in real life, go to his house, dismember him, then use his limbs to defile his torso" except if I published it online instead of ranting incoherently at my television.

        I think, by saying that.... maybe you just did publish it online?

    So unnecessarily aggressive.

      Seems like a bit of a straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back deal.

        It sucks. Knowing game devs, it's incredible how long they spend on a game. This guy is a d-bag but I really feel sad that this might kill everything he's worked for. At the same time I understand fully why Valve would do this. It's not cool to speak to people this way.

        Last edited 21/10/14 1:16 pm

        He's had bad dealings with valve before, they originally blocked his game from steam when he got a publisher because they didn't want indies thinking they could get around greenlight.
        I don't know what's happened between them since then, but I think the anger is a bit understandable. Not the death threat though, that was incredibly childish.

    That's why you don't be a prat when it comes to your business/career. You sort that shit out quickly and professionally and never speak of it again.

    We really need to find some way to differentiate between "angry they lost a match Halo trash talk" and "serious death threat" when writing these articles. I'm not saying this shouldn't be treated seriously or that it's ok to verbally abuse people, but this is being reported on as an actual death threat when it's just verbal abuse. In this case it doesn't matter that much because it's just an article about someone losing their temper and turning their minor problem into a major one, but when they do this with more important matters it really serves to widen the divide and fan the flames.

      As uncool as it was for this guy to say these things, I too think of the boy that cried wolf when I read some of these articles.

      I don't know, saying the words "I am going to kill..." and "He will die." sound a lot like a declaration of intent, whether you mean it or not. Given this is also hot on the heels of the hullabaloo surrounding Anita and Brianna Wu, it's natural to expect people to take it a little more seriously than just the over-reaction of a petulant child.

        You mean those other cases where it was just some other verbally abusive moron screaming in an attempt to intimidate someone, and not an actual declaration of intent to kill?

        I'm not defending this sort of stuff or telling people to let it slide but it's clear that he was just venting frustration in an extremely stupid and childish way. Take it seriously, react to it seriously, but don't report on it without acknowledging it for what it actually was. Do you actually believe this guy was announcing his plan to murder Gabe Newell over Twitter? If the police raid his house, which they should, do you expect them to find any evidence at all that he was planning to kill Gabe?

        Just to be 100% clear I'm not against taking action against these people. My issue is entirely in the way it's reported on. Kotaku authors sit here and write every Anita Sarkeesian threat story as if someone pulled a gun on her and it does nothing but esculate the situation and take us further away from a proper resolution.

          Take it seriously, react to it seriously, but don't report on it without acknowledging it for what it actually was.
          They do have him stating that he didn't mean what he said after they reported on the incident.

          Generally, in news reporting, you avoid bias. He threatened Gabe with killing him. Thus, Death Threat. You can't expect a news report to say "He had a childish tantrum and yelled something dumb"

          The title of the article itself is also free from bias in either direction, something I have to say is good to see in the age of click-bait titles.

          Kotaku authors sit here and write every Anita Sarkeesian threat story as if someone pulled a gun on her and it does nothing but esculate the situation and take us further away from a proper resolution.

          You would prefer instead for threatening behaviour to be covered up, not reported on? Sorry, I'd rather have the idiots who think it's okay to send threats, either in the heat of the moment or with malicious intent given the spotlight so that people can see what complete shits they are, doing something so stupid.

          And if they're going to send death threats, only for the police to investigate them as well as being publicised for their actions, they'll be less likely to do it. To me, that's a step towards a proper resolution.

          We really need to find some way to differentiate between "angry they lost a match Halo trash talk" and "serious death threat"

          The problem is, is that there is no good way to tell. With the way America is these days, if he lived in driving range, for all we know he could have rocked up at Valve HQ with a shotgun. Death threats have to be taken seriously because of this.

          Last edited 21/10/14 3:28 pm

            You would prefer instead for threatening behaviour to be covered up, not reported on? Sorry, I'd rather have the idiots who think it's okay to send threats, either in the heat of the moment or with malicious intent given the spotlight so that people can see what complete shits they are, doing something so stupid.

            There's a huge difference between what I'm suggesting and covering this up. To me it's more important that it's reported accurately. We make no progress by writing these articles with the same tone/intensity as we would if this was an actual attempt on Gabe's life (or Anitas, or anybody elses). All that does is cause people to be dismissive of the actual matter at hand. This sort of verbal abuse is not ok. Releasing someones personal details online is not ok. Harrassment is not ok. We don't need to trump it up. They're already way beyond acceptable behaviour.
            By using the zero tolerance attitude you feel like you're delivering justice, really striking back, but all you're actually doing is alienating anyone who doesn't already 100% agree with you. You think you're crucifying someone to make an example of them when really all you do is give people a reason to say 'well, Kotaku is written by a bunch of overly agressive PC sooks, there's no reason to even listen to their views'. I guarantee that the only thing people who engage in this sort of mindless rage venting take away from this article is that Luke and Valve are overly sensitive.

            I'll admit it's not as bad in this article as others, but I don't feel like this issue can really be discussed in such close proximity to a highly sensitive topic without things getting absolutely derailed.

              There's a huge difference between what I'm suggesting and covering this up. To me it's more important that it's reported accurately.

              Every tweet is there, complete with the important one of. "I am going to kill Gabe Newel. He is dead"

              It could not be reported more accurately.

      People need to learn that language like this is not acceptable in public forums exactly because it's hard to tell trash-talkers from unhinged-might-snap-and-actually-do-something-terrible when all we have to go on is some text. It's not funny, it's not welcome and it shouldn't fall on the target to have to take a leap of faith about the seriousness of it.
      The more that language like this is called out as unacceptable and, like in this case, punished, the better.

      We really need to find some way to differentiate between "angry they lost a match Halo trash talk" and "serious death threat" when writing these articles.

      Respectfully, I disagree. What we really need is for people to learn to express themselves without using hyperviolent language (assuming the comment was not a statement of intent).

      The way forward here is exactly what's at play. Expose the behaviour, establish it as 100% unacceptable, and enforce penalties commensurate with the behaviour. If someone said that to me in a face-to-face conversation, I would immediately cut off all social contact with that person in an effort to preserve my own safety -- this is what Valve has done.

      Well either
      (1) the threat was intended seriously (unlikely) in which case expecting Valve to continue to act as his agent would be sort of silly, or
      (2) the threat was intended hyperbolically, in which case it was incredibly unprofessional and added on top of all of his previous abuse it was perfectly reasonable for Steam to remove the game. (In Valve's shoes I would probably have removed the game earlier.)

      Basically, there are ways to act with your distributor, and then there's the way this guy acted. These are two different things.

      Being top-listed on Steam is the sort of opportunity most indie devs would die for. It's not as if there aren't many other horror-themed games out there that could take the slot.

        I'm not saying it's a good way to act I'm saying that nobody believes this was an actual death threat and that's sort of important. It's verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is bad, extremely unprofessional and totally unacceptable (although in this case we're talking about Valve, a giant company that doesn't have feelings to be hurt and clearly doesn't need us rushing to it's defense).
        The article revolves around the idea that he threated to kill Gabe when A) nobody seems to think he was serious and B) he was blasting out worse verbal abuse the entire time. Like I said elsewhere this isn't the worst example but these articles tend to lock on to the words "I'm going to kill [someone]" and then run that as the story, rather than addressing that everything he said was ridiculously unacceptable. It acts as though everything was ok until he used the word kill and Gabe together. That wasn't crossing the line. The line was crossed. That was just the point where you can yell zero tolerance and crucify the guy.

        If I tell you to suck my balls that's not a rape threat and most importantly it doesn't need to be in order for me to get in trouble. It's ok to be upset if I say that too you. It's a vulgar expression that you don't have to put up with. Acting like it's a rape threat though takes away from the seriousness of actual rape threats.

        Last edited 24/10/14 12:49 pm

          The article doesn't actually say that anybody actually took the threat seriously. It says that he said some other bad things about Valve, then made a death threat through Twitter which was removed shortly thereafter, then his game was removed from Steam.

          I've personally threatened to kill people many times. Those who know me realise that it's vanishingly rare for me even to hit somebody. Both of these things are true of most people (the latter to varying degrees).

          I don't think we're really disagreeing on content here, but on emphasis. The title of the story sets a tone which is a bit worse than the actual facts and content support - even if it's factually true.

            Like I say it's not the worst example of it, it's mostly taken as a 'haha, this guy completely screwed himself by taking a swing at something as powerful as Valve', but I don't like the trend in articles on Kotaku and sites like it of locking onto the fact it's technically a death threat and running with that as the entire story. It's not helpful, it fragments the community and it usually just esculates the situation.

    100% his fault. Think of how quickly it would've been resolved with a quick email or two rather than acting like a twat...

      Dear Steam,

      My Game has since been released, can you please update this on the steam store page,


      Kind regards,


      Agreed but I have a feeling it was the last straw and he just lost it. When one thing going wrong is actually the 50th and you just loose all rational mind?

        When it's the 50th thing going wrong, you've already resolved 49 things - do you really want to throw all that away with a hissy fit?

        Yes, of course it's hard to keep your head when things are tough, but losing it like this is not a good thing.

          I don't think you know how Murphy's Law works. It's not that 49 other things have bee resolved, you get one issue, you work on that, then another issue comes around before the second has a chance to get fixed and suddenly you have 50 issues, piled up, 2 of them have been solved and you can only work on one or two at a time. I can completely understand this guys frustration, can't agree with his approach to the situation.

          It's not a good thing but I think Arkayn's point is more that when you have a bad day your ability to not snap gets tested.
          It's a lot harder to be calm and reasonable when McDonalds screws your order up if you've spent all day getting chewed out by your boss. When you just want to go home and eat some McNuggets but instead your stuck holding up the line in a busy store to fix someone elses mistake.
          I used to work in a gym in an area comprised almost exclusively of corperate offices so I'm no stranger to being the first thing people encounter that they're 'allowed' to be angry at after a frustrating day at work. Most of them would be embarrassed about it the next time they saw me. I'm surprisingly mellow though so I was usually happy to let it slide and pretend it didn't happen. You get a pretty good sense of when someone would apologise if you brought it up, and that's good enough for me.

            sure it gets tested, and a reasonable person will still reign it in. it is *never* ok to blow up in this manner, you just deal with it like a professional.

          OK what I said went way over your head mate. It is not literally 50 and it does not mean everything else got resolved from before - the expression is "that's the last straw" for a reason. Also throwing it all away on a hissy fit? Going back to what I said, IT SOUNDS LIKE HE MAY OF LOST HIS "RATIONAL" MIND.

            Thanks for the condescension, but believe it or not, I did understand your point. The fact is that if he wanted to operate in a high-pressure, high-stakes professional environment like professional game developing, where he would be required to cultivate an audience and interact with publishers, he needed to be able to handle pressure and setbacks much more professionally. He obviously couldn't, and burned out. Yes, he might have lost his rational mind, but that's not an excuse, and in the end what that caused was a legit hissy fit.

              Reading that I think the condescension is un-deserved, sorry. My point is that my conjecture about he may of lost his rational mind and "The fact is that if he wanted to operate in a high-pressur..." has nothing to do with my conjecture of "but I have a feeling it was the last straw and he just lost it".
              we all know he shouldn't of lost it, that was not the point which is why the other replies beside mine said the same thing. Dude, chill. You were thinking about baseball and I was talking about basketball and you went an a tangent.

              Last edited 23/10/14 4:30 pm

        The fact that it was on Steam and highly visible is a massive bonus for his game in the first place. Instead he flips because it's listed as Early Access instead of a full release. It's a small issue compared to not being on Steam at all...

          I thought it was that early access had a discount applied to it, which is why he said that Steam was literally taking money from him, by offering a discount for early access, when in fact it was not in early access. That 15% was probably a fair whack of the dev's profit margin (if any). I can understand the frustration.

          I came here to say something along these lines. Just because he's angry doesn't excuse unprofessional actions. A Tweet along the lines of: Just a heads up the game is not an Alpha, but a full release. Sending an E-Mail to Steam to get this resolved right now.

          If your releasing games into the public space, you need to be professional, not throw a temper tantrum on twitter. He also complains that Steam keep regular Office Hours and he can't launch his game on Saturday.

          At the end of the day this guy won't be remembered as the indy game developer who released that awesome game. He'll be remembered as the Indy Douchbag who threatened GabeN over Twitter.

          Not to excuse this guy's behaviour (he should have tried to deal with Steam directly rather than scream over twitter) but these days being on Steam doesn't carry the 'prestige' that you imagine - it seems like any old crap gets onto Steam these days and 'Early Access' has a stigma for a reason.

          Last edited 21/10/14 9:31 pm

      Considering the history of Valve's support. It probably would take about three weeks for the issue to be resolved.

        Wait.... Valve has support??????

          I have insider sources that claim they have support. Take it with a grain of salt though, it's hard to take such ridiculous claims 100% seriously.

    Wait, when someone threatens Gabe it's serious business that needs to be addressed immediately, but when someone threatens a woman in the industry it's a false flag?

      In this case, its someone who threatened the life of a business partner, who then decided to cease all business between the parties as a result. Definitely easier to take immediate action when there is a set legal relationship between the two parties.

      Please don't try starting this stuff up, it's just looking to cause an argument..

      If you actually want an answer though, the obvious one would be that Gabe is the head of Valve, Valve/Steam saw a threat to their CEO and took action. The women in question (Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkesian - spelling? - etc) are not at Valve, unless I'm mistaken 99% of the women having issues are infact independant, addressing the issues themselves. Anything else is really down to what the media feels like reporting - which varies drastically depending on your source.

    "Hmmm... do I contact Steam and tell them they've put it in the wrong section, or do I open the throttle on my batshit craziness and act like some arsehole diva?

    Think I'll go with diva. I feel like I need to learn some life lessons today...".

      The sad thing is it wasn't even in the wrong section. He tweeted the day before that it was coming out of early access at 3pm EST, but he went apeshit at 10am EST, only an hour after he (prematurely) tweeted that the game was released.

    How about calm down and talk to Valve about correcting their errors instead of posting a bitch over Twitter? Is this guy 12? Somehow I don't think the industry will miss him

      well according to zj above, valve didn't even make a mistake.

    A developer with that kind of attitude? Good riddance. We don't need another stuck up developer case like FEZ

    I wonder what kind of response he got if he said:

    "God Damn you Gabe Newell, when are you going to learn to count past 2?"

      A nice burn might have been 'I know it might be hard for you to understand Gabe, but some games actually do move on to the next stage of development'.

        *Scratches head and looks at Valve's catalogue.*

        They're finished a good number of games, so I don't really see that burn working, at all.

        Last edited 21/10/14 3:35 pm

          Really? You don't see any reason why a running gag may exist about Valve games getting stuck in development forever? There's no reason why someone would take a friendly jab at them about that topic?

    In the majority of cases, if you are a person doing anything anywhere, it is probably not a good idea to tweet a death threat at anyone.

    I was under the impression all the details of a game release on steam were 100% up the developer?
    Somewhere he ticked a box which was labeled "Early Access", can any devs confirm this procedure?

    Hello! did anyone see this guys surname? "Murder"beck! you would have to take any threat seriously!

      If you look closely he seems to have changed his Twitter name from "Mike NotMurderbeck" to "Mike Murderbeck" for the sake of this post (or possibly shortly before).

      There are ways to ensure that people know you are speaking hyperbolically, and then there's changing your username to match the content of your death-threat Tweet post...

    Dumbass could have contacted Valve and calmly explained that the Early Access label could potentially cost sales, and discuss how Valve could 'right the wrong' with some sort of arrangement. But no, he acted like so many other dickheads who think abuse via the Internet is acceptable.

    He's only got himself to blame.

    They forced him to delay it? Doesn't sound like Valve....

      They just don't allow a game to be released in the USA weekend. He needed to chill out and wait for Monday.

        Was a half-life joke.
        But cheers for the explaining.

          Haha, sorry saw too many criticisms over Valve about this decision and didn't see the jokey side. Valve does a lot of things I don't agree with, but this wasn't one of them.

    I came here for Gaben's Mona Lisa smile and stayed for the tweet rant.

    Personally, I'd like to see this

    If you’re a developer selling a game on Steam, it’s probably not the best idea in the world to tweet a death threat to the guy who owns Steam.

    replaced with this

    it’s probably not the best idea in the world to tweet a death threat

    Seriously... I think the whole bloody world needs to take an anger management course or something, because people just seem to be getting nastier and nastier over issues that are really not all that significant.

      It's down to a severe lack of patience. Everything nowadays is at your fingertips in an instant and when it's not, people get antsy. It should be taught in schools on how to just relax and move past things without anger.

        I think it's less about patience and more about judgement under pressure. Or come to think of it, maybe it's both. I know how frustrating it is to get to the end of a development cycle only to be tripped up by something completely trivial or someone's minor, yet strategic screw up, but the important thing is to vent, get it out of your system, and to do so in a way that doesn't harm any professional relationships. Losing everything over something that could have been avoided is just a horrendous result.

        Haven't we all seen the episode of The Simpsons where Homer sends the angry letter to Mr Burns after giving him some of Barts Blood? Did nobody learn not to post angry? If you sleep on it you have that dream where you're strangling them, then they turn into a bottle of Maple Syrup and you wake having eaten your Pillow.

          I think there's something in that for all of us.

      This is why in another thread I said I didn't agree with Stephen Fry's quote that it's ok to offend people. And why I found it sad that I got downvoted for it. The world needs to stop being so nasty.

    err, I don't understand the need for the emotion.
    There was some kind of clerical error.
    Raise it with Valve, ask that they resolve it.
    Move along.
    Seems like he made an absolute shit storm out of very little at all.
    He read intent where there probably wasnt any.
    I wonder how much of his mental state was influenced by other factors such as stress/fatigue or tiredness as well as likely other things.
    Take emotion out of the equation with any 'work' related tweet- use your brain.

    Last edited 21/10/14 2:13 pm

    The people here who are like, "he's upset, obviously it was a reaction, I think Valve overreacted"... If I was a Gabe Newell, I'd want someone who threatened my life (under any context) the FUCK off my distribution network too.
    What an unprofessional dick. What did he think was going to happen?

      Especially after all the trash he spewed before the death threat too.

    Pfft, kids these days, make a half assed game and expect to make billions from a one hit wonder. Some people have a lot to learn about life and how you aren't owed anything.

    I have a new word to describe this dev... a [email protected].. a fucking twitter wanker.

      I like it. Unfortunately I have but 1 upvote to give you.

    Why is he now quitting making videogames after being kicked from Steam? According to him, Steam is a thieving piece of s#!t, anyway. He should be showing us what he can do now that he's free of its malevolent clutches!

    I am all for teenagers developing games but they should leave the PR to their parents.

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