The developer of the acclaimed new retro shooter Ion Fury has apologised for what it referred to as “sexist and transphobic” comments made by two of its employees on Discord. It has also promised to patch out several “homophobic” jokes that were included in the game itself.
Ion Fury, which was released on August 15, was largely met with gushing praise. It doesn’t wear its influences on its sleeve so much as it treats them like a full-body tattoo.
It is unmistakably a shooter in the vein of chunky ‘90s cheesefests like Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. It uses the same engine and even has the same publisher, 3D Realms. It also draws on similar humorous sensibilities — some of which have, to put it mildly, not aged well.
Late last week a user on gaming forum ResetEra posted Discord screenshots with messages from members of Ion Fury’s development studio Voidpoint. These included remarks from a lead developer who goes by the handle “Terminx” about how “SJWs” are “fucking nuts.”
“Something I don’t really understand about the social justice stuff is that they have stuff like the ‘slut walk,’ which I thought was about the right to not be harassed for how they dress but, then if you portray women dressed the same way you get shit for it,” Terminx wrote in a discussion with other members of the Discord channel.
Ion Fury stars a woman character, but Terminx made a point of noting that it contains “no feminist slant.”
Another developer who goes by “Daedolon” expressed similarly thoughtless scepticism toward trans people, implying that “mutilating a perfectly healthy body while you have depression and other big issues” could lead to suicide.
Initially, Voidpoint said these comments were taken out of context. “You should probably do your own research before coming to that conclusion,” the studio wrote on Twitter in reply to a fan who expressed regret that they’d purchased the game after seeing “gross” developer comments. “The crop tool in Photoshop has always been just as much about what you are removing as what you are keeping.”
Over the weekend, however, another ResetEra user discovered homophobic language in Ion Fury, including soap bottles that parodied the Olay shampoo brand as “OGAY” and a secret area in which you can find the word “fagbag.”
This prompted both Voidpoint and publisher 3D Realms to issue statements to Eurogamer. (Kotaku also reached out, but a representative was not able to provide further information.)
Voidpoint said that members of the team made “sexist and transphobic comments, and included homophobic language in Ion Fury,” declaring those actions “insensitive, unacceptable, and counterproductive to causes of equality.” The company apologised to women and members of the LGBTQ community and said it will implement “a zero-tolerance policy for this type of language,” which will include “mandatory sensitivity training” for employees.
The language in question will also be patched out of Ion Fury, it said. Lastly, Voidpoint plans to donate $US10,000 ($14,788) of Ion Fury’s earnings to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organisation focused on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.
Publisher 3D Realms noted that the in-game language in question was “not approved by us,” and that it hopes to ensure this kind of thing never happens again.
“Moving forward all of 3D Realms’ contracts will include terms which would allow us to sever relationships if a contractor does not abide by our zero-tolerance policy for hate speech,” it wrote.