No-nonsense bans for players who are repeatedly racist, sexist, or bullies? Sounds like a pretty fair deal, but a number of Killing Floor 2 fans see the game's strict policy as a step too far. Some are refusing to play the game altogether.
While plenty of games come with EULAs (End User Licence Agreements) that allow game creators to revoke access to their games with remarkably little warning, Killing Floor 2's is notable for being significantly more specific. The short version? Abuse of any sort is a ban-worthy offence, a one-way ticket from the killing floor right out the killing door.
The clause, found under "Cheats, Cheating and Abusive Behaviours," reads:
"We also will not tolerate anyone using the game, or any servers or forums provided for the game, to be continually or repeatedly abusive to other players. This includes, but is not limited to, 'griefing,' racist bigotry, sexism or any other forms of 'cyber bullying.' We will also not tolerate anyone hosting servers for the game where such behaviours are continually or repeatedly allowed to take place."
"If we find you are a Cheater or Abusive, we will revoke your CD key and ban you from the KF2 servers and tell your mum! Your licence will automatically terminate, without notice, and you will have no right to play KF2 or any KF2 Mods against other players or make any other use of KF2. End of story."
Please, not my mum! She took it hard enough when The President personally phoned her to inform her that I'd gotten a parking ticket.
Seriously though, that's some pretty clear cut language. Cross the line into unadulterated toxicity, and there may not be any second chances. For Killing Floor 2 developer Tripwire, this seems to represent a no-nonsense approach to cultivating a community where people don't act like shitheads toward one another, an attempt to quash some of the toxicity that infests other multiplayer games before it can rise from its noxious plague pit. However, some fans are worried that Tripwire is taking things too far, and as a result they no longer want anything to do with Killing Floor 2.
So basically, they're worried that developers or other players could abuse these rules, get someone booted out into the cold, sword-armed-murder-monster-less world when they don't deserve it. A select few also don't know the difference between the right to free speech and a company's right to make their own rules, but anyway.
While many players seemed cool with Tripwire's hardline stance ("Just respect other people. End of."), the developer saw fit to address a number of complaints. Tripwire Vice President Alan Wilson explained in a Steam thread:
"We added the pieces to the EULA about 'behaviours' as a reaction to really evil behaviours which are simply not appropriate in multiplayer or co-op game. Or anywhere in civilized society, for that matter."
"People are worried that we can 'take your game away.' Well, yes, we can. We've sold around 10 million games over the last 10 years. We have, I believe, taken away games from about 2 people. One of those was later convicted as a hacker in court."
He added that the EULA stipulations are in place for extreme cases -- repeat offenders who make tens or hundreds or even thousands of people miserable with their words or actions. He believes that they will only rarely, if ever, come into play. So, for instance, if someone is barfing up gutter talk on a single server, it's up to the server admin to boot them -- or not. If that person makes a concerted effort to spread their filth to tons of servers, only then will Tripwire get involved. "For the other 99.999% of the population, play on!" he wrote. "We're not watching or tracking you or anything else. We have wayyyy better things to do -- like making games."
Some players, however, are still confused, worried that saying the wrong thing might get them banned -- even as other players try to reassure them that this likely won't be an issue for more than a few people.
And thus, the conflict rages on. So we wind up in an odd spot, despite what seems like a decent amount of clarity from Tripwire. In fairness, though, it is possible to trample over people's boundaries without realising it. I've done it plenty of times, that's for damn sure. I can, then, understand why some players are worried. Things that are common sense for some can feel like a foreign language to others, and we live in a time where not all of this stuff is codified yet. People are still learning, day by day. It sounds, though, like Tripwire is largely gonna let fans handle things themselves, as they have done with previous games. Regardless, a good rule of thumb: if you're worried you might be close to crossing the line with anyone, just ask. When in doubt, "Is this cool?" is a pretty excellent question.
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