Indie Developer Retaliates To Negative Video With YouTube Takedown

Indie Developer Retaliates To Negative Video With YouTube Takedown

Jim Sterling is a game critic who isn't afraid to throw a few punches. Sometimes, the developers punch back with a takedown notice on YouTube. In response, Sterling called them "another poopbrain dev". But this "poopbrain dev" is really pissed off and wants to fight back.

So pissed off, in fact, it filed a copyright claim against Sterling to have his video taken down. It will not be accessible on YouTube for the next two weeks. In essence, if the developer's going to lose potential sales from Sterling's pointed commentary, Sterling will have to lose potential ad revenue by having the video offline for a little while.

The developer in question is Digpex Games. Chances are you haven't heard of them, but that's probably true of most developers trying to get approved through Steam Greenlight. Most games on Greenlight aren't done. Instead, it's developers showing what they have so far in the hopes of getting support from potential customers for the chance to be sold on PC's busiest marketplace.

Skate Man Intense Rescue was one of those games, and games like it have become prime fodder for Sterling's growing YouTube channel. It's where he makes some of his money these days.

Sterling used to write for The Escapist, Destructoid, and elsewhere. Like other games media personalities recently, he's now operating independently via Patreon, YouTube, and other outlets. "Best of Steam Greenlight trailers" is one of his more popular playlists on YouTube.

His commentary can be vicious, but truth be told, many of these games don't look very good.

Here is Skate Man Intense Rescue:

Indie Developer Retaliates To Negative Video With YouTube Takedown

What kind of game is Skate Man Intense Rescue? I'm not sure. I'd embed Sterling's video, but it's been taken down by Digpex Games. I'd link to the game's Greenlight page, but it no longer exists. Besides this official website, any mention of Skate Man Intense Rescue has disappeared.

If you try to access Sterling's video, here's what comes up:

Indie Developer Retaliates To Negative Video With YouTube Takedown

There are a couple of ways a video disappears from YouTube. A copyright owner can claim there's infringement (i.e. what happened here and the recent Power/Rangers video) or Google's ContentID system detects something. The former requires the copyright owner to take action.

For Sterling, once a takedown notice has been issued, there's a three-step process. The entire time, of course, the video is offline, not running ads, and he can't make any money off of it.

  1. He has to watch a video by YouTube about copyright infringement and answer a quiz.
  2. To file a counter-claim, he has to disclose his name, address, and phone number to whomever is alleging the infringement. Sterling only gets the individual's email address.
  3. When the counter-claim is filed, the rights holder has 14 days to respond. In each instance, Sterling watched as the developer did nothing except keep the video offline for 14 days.

"In order to fight a counter-claim, they would have to pursue it in court," he told me over email. "So far nobody's done that, as it's the point in the process where a developer actually opens itself up to any form of consequence -- if they fail, the YouTuber can then take them to court and seek damages. Issuing takedowns is all well and good when the developer can remain relatively shielded from risk -- no studio has yet decided it's worth gambling further."

The big question, then, is why? Shutting down a game critic, even one as loud and brash as Sterling, is going to result in bad PR. There's almost no way for this to look good for the creator.

At the bottom of the Digpex Games website, there's an innocuous contact address. I sent a note asking for information about the takedown notice. The response I received doesn't have a name attached to it and suggested a developer whose native tongue is not English. Best I can tell, Digpex Games is part of a company ran out of Vietnam. Keep this in mind as you read further.

"is about time somebody stop that stupid guy," said the anonymous developer. "I seen all his video he is enjoying making money from, is from steam greenlight. and greenlight videos are from poor indie guys or new companies who have little to defends them self. almost all of greenlight projects are still underdevelopment the developers are still working on it."

Essentially, the developer feels Sterling is using Greenlight as easy bait. Of course the games look bad: they're not done yet.

Indie Developer Retaliates To Negative Video With YouTube Takedown

"i cant stand people that are using poor weak developers for money," said the developer.

I pitched this idea to Sterling: do you think these videos are a tad mean spirited? He disagreed.

"There is a prevailing belief that indie games, by virtue of their size and budget, are above reproach, and I simply believe that's a bullshit and rather cowardly way of trying to duck criticism," he said. "If you're selling a game, you should expect game critics to, y'know, criticise it. You're not special, and you certainly don't get to play the 'I'm a poor bullied weakling' card when you're the one wielding takedown strikes to silence people who said things you don't like."

Dixpex Games seems to know the copyright notice is nothing more than a bump in the road.

"I know he got the law on his side and little followers," said the developer. "some of the greenlight developers too have contact me that saying that does how he do use the law and He will get the the video back running. but that does not mean He will continue to enjoy the HARD WORK of the Indie Game Developers videos forever. "

"I very much appreciate the developer admitting that they know their claim is spurious, and that they're simply throwing a tantrum because they can," said Sterling. "I'm sorry their feelings got hurt. I also have been hurt by this, as Skate Man's framerate is incredibly stressful on the eyes. So, we've both got wounds to lick."

There's no video evidence of Skate Man Intense Rescue's existence right now, but this GIF from NeoGAF purports to demonstrate what Sterling is talking about here, regarding the frame rate:

Indie Developer Retaliates To Negative Video With YouTube Takedown

Though I was interested in chatting with Digpex Games about the relationship between critics, developers, and the nature of showing off early work, the studio told me it wouldn't be having it.

"thanks for your concern. and dont worry about us ..worry about yourself," the developer said. He might be a king to you but he is shit to me. you can always bully people but one day you meet the wrong one. and Please Do not reply because we are not interested about your concern and communication."

Assuming Digpex Games doesn't take Sterling to court, his video will be back up in two weeks.

WATCH MORE: Gaming News


Comments

    Not being done is one thing. It looks like complete fucking shit and runs on stills.

    Bad attitude from the devs. They deserve to do what they love, but they definitely don't deserve to make money doing it.

    What an extremely odd series of events.

    Great interesting article and all i have to say after that is... "Dixpex Games".... i always read it as "Dicks Pics Games"

    This has happened with Sterling's videos at least a couple of times in the past. It tends to result in even more derision levelled at the offending developer. I can't imagine this one will be any different.

    Pretty sure this isn't the first time someone went after one of Jim Sterlings videos. There was also the time someone pulled the same shit on John Bain.

    so ridiculous that the devs complain about him being a bully, whilst simultaneously launching an openly vexatious takedown attempt just because they don't like what he's saying. that last quoted paragraph is fucking hilarious too

    The big question, then, is why? Shutting down a game critic, even one as loud and brash as Sterling, is going to result in bad PR. There’s almost no way for this to look good for the creator.

    I think once a mega popular YouTuber has 'critiqued' the game it's done. The additional bad PR that comes from attacking them on such a petty level doesn't really matter anymore. The game isn't going to achieve what they want it to after that and the 'studio' is going to have to change it's name to take another swing at it anyway, so from there point of view why shouldn't they take a shot at the wallet of the guy who derailed their almost certainly going to fail anyway train?
    I wouldn't do it, but I'm not trying to fleece users on Greenlight.

    I think it would be interesting to see what was said by the reviewer if there was a developer sitting there in the room with him. It's easy to criticize someone's work when they are not there, but feeding back information to them face to face is challenging and you generally adjust to lessen the blow of each hit.
    I see this as one of the fundamental flaws of the youtube review system. People want to be controversial because that way they get views. I'd love to see a channel though that sits with the dev and feeds back to them what they thought were the strengths of the game and what they thought could be improved. Only then will we get an industry that works together for the greater good instead of the current state of dev vs reviewer.

      Its a classic case of "does this dress make me look fat?". Most people would say "no, you look fine" when they're really thinking "sweet jesus! call the coast guard, we've a beached whale over here!"

      The dev should take the brutal honesty and do something about it, jump on a treadmill or buy wii fit so people will take notice. Nobody is going to vote his game now.

      Everybody loves it when a dev listens to suggestions instead of throwing a 3yo tantrum.

      This was done with the Battlefield youtubers for the newest BF, 'Hardline'.

      They flew a bunch of them to the developers HQ to play test a development build, where they collected feedback from them and allowed them to publish video from the events.

      I wouldn't put it past the personalities of either Sterling or TB to say what they would in review to the faces of the developers. Remember that these 2 personalities love gaming, love the steam independent games developers and aren't afraid to call something shit when it actually is. The framerate on the original video was balls.

      They are seemingly harsh because they want to tell developers what needs to be improved to make the game enjoyable.

      Last edited 20/03/15 4:04 pm

        They are seemingly harsh because they want to tell developers what needs to be improved to make the game enjoyable.

        I would say they're harsh because that's part of the persona and the format of their shows. Even if he has other reasons for doing the show, and it's pretty clear he cares about the subject matter enough that 'he likes doing the show' is high on his list of reasons, the attitude is part of the act. In this specific case I doubt Jim wants this game to be better, or made at all.
        At best he's making a broader statement to would be developers looking to go down the same path about the state of Greenlight by calling out the worst offenders. At worst he's exploiting an easy target, because throwing rotten fruit at game developers who suck and aren't in it purely for the love of making games is an easy way for a game critic to make strong statements without actually risking anyone disagreeing*.

        *I don't think that's the case, from what I understand the video isn't all pitch forks and mob justice, but I'm talking best and worst case for his motivations.

          Just because the developers are not signed up to a publisher does not mean they deserve sympathy from critics and their users. If anything because they are asking the consumer to help with the investment they should face even more scrutiny. It's great they are working on something we love, but it doesn't mean that we should be lenient if they give us a pile of shit for a game

            That's not what I'm saying. You're talking about whether they deserve protection and sympathy from criticism, which they don't because they're selling the product, where I'm saying a critics motivations aren't inherently noble just because they have the right to voice their opinions.
            Jim has a whole bunch of interests here. I believe one of the main reasons he does his show is that he sincerely wants to help consumers make an informed decision and that's great, I can't stress enough that I actually like the guy as a critic, but in this specific case what's he really achieving with this video? I don't believe he wants to help Digpex improve their game, it's a train wreck from one end to the other, and I don't think that he thinks so little of his audience that they need his help identifying this as the bad sort of Greenlight game. It seems like it's something he's tearing into primarily for the entertainment of his audience which, regardless of whether the developers deserve any sympathy, is a little mean spirited.
            The only real critical value the video has, and I believe this is the point of the greater series the video is part of, is as a roundabout way of bringing attention to the faults with Valve's Greenlight system.

            Also keep in mind when using the 'they don't deserve sympathy' line of thinking is that it goes both ways. If we're going to stick to that rule then as a professional he does not deserve any sympathy. If that means he's free to dig through Greenlight for ultra low budget games to blast then it certainly means I'm free to make the observation that some of his videos are needlessly harsh simply for the sake of promoting himself as a hard-arse 'not afraid to tell it like it is' personality.

            And just to be clear while I don't believe they should be protected and they don't deserve sympathy, I do believe that sympathy doesn't need to be earned or deserved to be given. It's insane to see someone in pain and be 100% ok with that, or worse be ok with causing them more/continued pain, simply because they don't deserve sympathy. If someone doesn't deserve my sympathy I'm not going to lose any sleep over not feeling sympathetic towards them, but it's not something I view as a green light for me to be a dick to them.

      I wonder if these devs would accept money for their work if the buyer was living nearby.

    While I understand the viewpoint of games still being in progress on Greenlight, what the devs don't seem to realise is that Greenlight is a place for you to convince people that your game is worth supporting. If what you have on there makes people go "eww", then you either need to re-evaluate your game or make it better. If you were pitching the same game to an investor, they would laugh you out of the building faster than the length of a YouTube video.

    Streisand effect activated.

    I have to say, I'm looking forward to when the video does come back to YouTube and the Streisand Effect comes in full force. As someone who subscribes to Jim's channel and saw the video featuring his commentary over the trailer before it was taken down, I can attest that the game's horribleness is truly something to behold.

    For an indie group who wants to disappear, removing Jim's video and then discussing the matter with Kotaku certainly won't help them. This could quite possibly mean that they're willing to pull something again, even if they have literally nothing to gain (much like this scenario).

    Last edited 20/03/15 3:38 pm

      I subbed to Jim for Jimquisition but I gotta say as someone who doesn't venture into the dark recesses of Steam man alive those Greenlight trailers are an eye opener

    Oh man lol

    He's a critic, that's his job.
    If the devs can't stand the heat gtfo of the kitchen. If its really poorly developed than it doesn't deserve money.. Its that simple. The butthurt Dev needs to pull his head out of his bum and man up. Take the criticism constructively, go back and fix the issues to be the better person. But nooooooo.. Now they just look like an arse. Dev has a shitty attitude.

    That game looks awful. Is it meant to be hideous and bad, like Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff?

    Here you go. Yes the game is ....well....okay, its not a game.

    SKATE MAN INTENSE RESCUE Welp, Videogames Have Peaked reupload!: https://youtu.be/2c4LaD874ck

    Prima Donna Indie Dev gets pissed that someone called their POS game for what it is, gets revenge by filing a takedown notice. indie Dev looks like bigger POS in the process. Sure, Jim loses some money, but this Dev is poison.

    This should be a lesson to developers to NOT release their titles in such a early developed state unless they have some VERY good peer review before hand suggesting its fun to play.

    Releasing PAYME early access titles too soon and getting scorned because they are just utter garbage is a price any dev should be fully aware of. Rule of thumb, DON'T DO IT! Wait until you have something semi decent and has gone through some basic private peer review first.

    Last edited 20/03/15 9:44 pm

    I'm pretty sure that none of us would have heard about Skate Man Intense Rescue prior to this article, or indeed any time afterwards either, so I'm scoring this as a win for the developer.

    Jesus... another indie dev with a glass jaw and hair trigger temper. Geez, that's worked out so well for others like that before, huh?

    Anyone else think this dev is a contender for the biggest retard ever to attempt to work in the games industry? Seriously, even aside from how awful the english in that response was (cut him some slack if he's Vietnamese), the attitude behind it was so juvenile, childish and outright IDIOTIC that I wonder if he's a 12-year old with downs syndrome. Talking about "hard work" when his game looks literally worse than Superman 64... Christ on toast...

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