Game Developer Sues 100 Anonymous Steam Users For $24 Million

When we last saw the game studio Digital Homicide, they were suing game critic Jim Sterling for $US10 million ($13 million), charging him with libel and slander for harshly criticising their games. Now they're pursuing legal action against 100 anonymous Steam users, calling them a "hate and harassment group" in recent court filings. A screenshot from Digital Homicide's video game The Slaughtering Grounds

In a new lawsuit filed in Arizona earlier this week, Digital Homicide co-founder James Romine asks for around $US18 million ($24 million) from 100 anonymous Steam users with handles like Demonsword and Nathos. The suit, which also asks the court to subpoena Valve for the identities of these 100 Steam users, lays out a large list of allegations against them: Stalking, harassment, criminal impersonation, tortious interference and so on. Also: Being mean.

Digital Homicide, the developer behind a number of poorly received Steam games including Dungeons of Kragmor and Krog Wars, has become better known for its litigation than for its products. The studio made headlines earlier this year when they sued Sterling, who had published several articles and videos slamming their games. That lawsuit is still ongoing.

In this week's lawsuit, Romine and his company point to a Steam group that was seemingly created to monitor Digital Homicide's actions. The group accuses Digital Homicide of spamming Steam Greenlight, among other things. The 100 defendants named in the lawsuit are mostly members of this group.

"Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that, at all times herein mentioned, each of the defendants sued herein was during listed events and/or currently is a member of an organised hate and harassment group or assisted said hate and harassment group that specifically formed on [Steam] to financially destroy and harass The Plaintiff and other targeted developers," the lawsuit says. "This hate and harassment group, Digital Homicides Poop Games, was created from the name of The Plaintiff's company Digital Homicide Studios LLC."

Said Steam group is apparently now called Digital Homicides instead of Poop Games. The group's description characterises it as a "a dedicated consumer-advocacy group and censorship safe haven" that focuses on Steam and Steam Greenlight. Here is a selection of posts from their members, as exhibited in court filings:

The full lawsuit is long and meandering, digging deep into specific posts made by members of this Steam group. It puts a spotlight on 10 of the users, accusing them of spamming comments, making false accusations and posting negative reviews "to cause financial damage and emotional and mental anguish".

You can read it all here:


Comments

    When a troll tries to bully the whole Internet and can't handle being called out for BS. Always so hilarious.

    Be interesting to see where this goes. Hopefully it makes it to court and sets the right precedent.

    As long as reviewers/commenters are truthful they should be allowed to say what they want, otherwise reviews become useless.

    Adjust your steam profile name a bit.... and its over ..

    I'll be on that list for sure, I've called them out as makers of utter garbage in almost every one of their Greenlight submissions, at least up to the point they banned me from their comment sections after I asked them why they don't bother spending their time making a single good game instead of spamming the service with rushed shovelware. Which was obviously rhetorical.

    Pretty sure you can't sue someone for saying their objectively bad shite is objectively bad shite, though.

      You can be sued for slandering the reputation of the company though.

        This was at the time when they released 50 or more versions of the same game over a period of a few days. The exact same game. It was a piss-poor Space Invaders clone, with a single enemy sprite. For their next game, they changed the enemy sprite and called it the sequel. They'd release 15 or so "sequels" like this before changing the background and main character sprite and calling it a completely new game with a new name, which they'd then release another 15 or so "sequels" for.

        So is calling out that behaviour as spamming a service with objectively bad garbage considered slander?

        Perhaps, I'm not a lawyer. But is a critic (which I don't for a second pretend to be) calling a game shite slandering a company? Is questioning a business model that is rushing out a game with no regard for quality before moving onto the next one slander?

        Again, perhaps. As far as slandering their reputation goes, however, no one has done that as much as Digital Homicide with questionable business practices that produce utter garbage.

          I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just stating that they do have a leg to stand on.

          I agree 100% with that last paragraph though.

          I took a look at their "company" page. It's got about as much quality in it as they do in their games.

            All good, I know we're on the same page, I just like repeating the fact that they're a disgraceful company who make utterly terrible products, then play victim when people call them on it.

            One of my last posts on a Greenlight page of theirs I was replying to a discussion thread where someone had gone a bit overboard and into the territory of slander/threats (even if only jokingly). I mentioned in that thread that the most likely reason they dumped 50 games almost simultaneously onto Greenlight was to intentionally troll and garner as much negative feedback like this as they can so it can be used as evidence in their suit against Sterling that he had incited hatred or violence towards their company. I didn't suspect they'd go after the people posting. Not that that would change anything I posted, I'd happily call them on their dodgy business ethics again. In fact I just did.

            Last edited 19/09/16 1:26 pm

    This will go no where. He will go to court, The judge will the proceed to tell him their posts are protected under free speech as they are fair and reasonable criticisms. Dev will then proceed to have his usual sooky la la.

    oh, and now they've apparently had all of their games delisted from the steam store.

    Suing people for having an opinion in a forum, I'm sure this'll go well for them :P

    Last edited 17/09/16 5:52 pm

      Looks like a real life spoiled brat "My dad is a lawyer" kid is all grown up and thinks he is a developer. This right here is why participation awards and telling kids they are good at everything is ruining a generation.

    Wow, I've seen some poorly drafted pleadings before but these are just hilariously bad. They really need to fire their solicitor....or stop filing frivolous lawsuits...probably both.

      From what I hear, one of them has a bit of legal training and they are representing themselves. He probably took a few law classes in uni as part of something else.

      Also: the phrase "Digital Homicides Poop Games" appearing in a legal document is just the best.

    Whoa. Arizona judge granted a subpoena for Valve to release the real identities of the users. Valve has since removed listings of all DH games (for DH being hostile to Steam members) and will likely contest the subpoena in court.

    Madness.

      And DH is now considering whether to sue Valve too. I should grab the popcorn.

    Since I haven't been paying attention nor do I have time to google, can someone explain WHO/WHAT Digital Homicide is and why they're so hated? Is it just because they make quick crappy games?

    Edit:
    Oh wow. Disregard my questions, a look at their website says it all.

    Last edited 19/09/16 11:18 am

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