The fallout from the latest drama involving Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg and Campo Santo continues, with a fairly logical target finding itself in the firing line: Firewatch.
For those not up to speed, everything kicked off earlier this week when Kjellberg dropped the n-word while streaming PUBG. Campo Santo’s Sean Vanaman took to Twitter to announce that his studio would be filing takedown strikes against any footage of their games, past or future, and encouraged other developers to do the same.
So while the internet digested that, and the YouTube community parsed the potential impact on the platform and Kjellberg’s career, gamers responded through another medium: Steam reviews.
Some users openly referenced Campo Santo’s usage of DMCA strikes, while others have just criticised the game – although recent reviews have no play time in the past fortnight, meaning users played the game before the latest scandal, and are either updating old reviews, or just posting one now.
The battle has overflowed into Firewatch‘s Steam forums as well, with several threads such as “2 wrongs don’t make a right”, “FLAG THIS GAME ON STEAM”, “Campo Santo Uses Political Correctness”, “Shameful”, “Welcome to the blacklist” and “WILL NEVER BUY THIS GAME”.
The overall impact hasn’t had a detrimental effect on Firewatch‘s overall user rating – it’s still at 87% with more than 25,500 reviews – but Steam’s change to how reviews are displayed means the “recent” rating appears as Mixed.
The review bombing began before Kjellberg’s apology, but that hasn’t impacted the backlash towards the game. A string of threads with the n-word were on the front page of the Firewatch forums at the time of writing, and at least 150 separate threads were created in the last 48 hours. Before the controversy, days would often pass between new threads.
A glimpse of the Firewatch forums, saved by the Web Archive on September 2
It’s not the first time users have responded to a developer’s actions on social media by brigading a game on Steam. It doesn’t necessarily affect a game financially – especially something that’s been out for a year, like Firewatch – but it has been effective in the past for players in getting their voice heard.
[referenced url=”https://www.kotaku.com.au/2015/05/steam-review-bombing-is-a-problem/” thumb=”https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/t_ku-large/1230808166037825456.png” title=”Steam ‘Review Bombing’ Is A Problem” excerpt=”In recent times, people have taken to flooding games’ Steam pages with (typically negative) reviews and tags to protest, well, lots of things. New features, viewpoints of creators, messages in the games themselves. But why? And does it actually work?”]
[referenced url=”https://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/10/chinese-fans-are-review-bombing-the-hell-out-of-football-manager/” thumb=”https://www.kotaku.com.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2016/10/football-manager-2017-angry-reviews-410×231.jpg” title=”Chinese Fans Are Review Bombing The Hell Out Of Football Manager” excerpt=”The Football Manager series has always been one of the most popular games on Steam. But if you checked out the reviews for Football Manager 2017, you’d assume something was very, very wrong.”]
The backlash is also a reminder of how quickly things can change. Only last year, Campo Santo was being praised by the community following a response to a player conflicted over whether they should refund Firewatch.
[referenced url=”https://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/02/firewatch-developer-offers-classy-response-to-steam-refund-request/” thumb=”https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/t_ku-large/kugn2kksjpo9t46tfqwy.jpg” title=”Firewatch Developer Offers Classy Response To Steam Refund Request” excerpt=”Last weekend, one Firewatch player was having a monetary dilemma. They’d beaten the game. They liked the game, which tasks players with hiking in the Wyoming wilderness. But they also felt that spending $US18 ($25) for a 2-3 hour experience might be asking for too much.”]