Well it happened.
Our Lord and Savior, Jim Sterling, has been sued by Steam “developers” Digital Homicide.
I can actually remember watching his original play through of their terrible game, “The Slaughtering Grounds” and the immediate childish response his criticism received by these so-called game devs. At the time it was just another case of a terrible developer having an amazing tantrum over a YouTube personality’s negative reactions, however as time went by the animosity escalated. Jim would criticize Digital Homicide games, and they responded by adding his likeness to their games, calling him with threats, and attempting to dox him in an interview.
Now, clearly, I’m a fan of Jim’s. I think the service he provides is an excellent and entertaining one. I purchased one of the earliest “early access” games on Steam (one that has to date still not come out) and I’ve bought some games on the service that looked terrific but turned out to be half-finished drek.
Jim is one of the only reviewers who focuses on PC’s largest digital retailer and its laissez faire policy of user developers selling on their service. He covers those who try hard but simply lack the talent necessary to create a decent product, those who consciously make garbage in order to cash in or get publicity, those who literally sell pre-made assets as finished products, and those who make genuinely great games. It’s through him that many of us were made aware of Steam’s lax policies on who can sell their games, the problems with Greenlight abuse, the troubling nature of asset flips, and the now widespread abuse of “early access.”
Jim’s personality isn’t for everyone. He’s harsh in his critiques, pulling no punches in his personal experiences and disappointments with certain games or the Steam service. At the same time you can hear the joy and shock when he discovers a decent game in early access or a Greenlight trailer to get excited about. He truly loves the medium and his criticisms are grounded in his distaste for those who sully it with poor products. This does include so-called AAA companies and games, and he spends more of his time criticizing the likes of Konami, EA, and Ubisoft in his work than he does anyone else. However it’s always the indie devs who have caused him the most problems. The likes of Digital Homicide, Cobra Studios, and Digpex Games have files erroneous DMCA takedowns of his videos. They’ve penned letters to the media and attempted funding pages and psychotic anti-Jim leagues to stop him. All done by devs whose poor products he merely criticized for being poor.
There has been a lot of misunderstanding in the media about the specific lawsuit filed by the odious Romine brothers of Digital Homicide. It wasn’t for the numerous videos he did about their games but from a comment in a written article he later corrected once it was clear the facts were potentially different. That piece of the lawsuit is the one that potentially stands a chance, based on the laws of the state in which these junk merchants have chosen to have it heard.
The rest of the case is clearly nonsense. They claim he sent his fans to harass him. Which not only is impossible to blame him for, is also patently untrue. He has made comments in more than one video appealing for calm and requesting his fans NOT harass developers or those he criticizes. He hasn’t even sought out a lot of Digi-Hom games to critique. He outlines in another of his videos how he criticized a number of games that were published under different guises only to find out later they were actually under the Digital Homicide umbrella. In at least two lets plays he praised the company for making products that were of acceptable quality and has stated on numerous occasions he would be the first in line to congratulate them if they ever made a decent, successful game. Given his attitude toward the games they released that bordered on competency I’m inclined to believe him.
The worries of the “far-reaching implications” of this case aren’t really merited given the limited nature of the lawsuit and what it’s going after. It’s not a case about YouTube criticism; it’s a predatory case a couple of hacks are using to get revenge on a terrific critic and famous YouTube personality because he hurt their feelings when he called their bullshit “bullshit.” They’ve sought the most vulnerable part of his small corner of the internet to attack, his website. What is more concerning is that this kind of behavior can occur and potentially be rewarded. Jim mentioned in a recent Podquisition (jokingly admittedly) that he’s spending the money he could be saving for a settlement on boglins and collector’s edition video games. While the nature of the law in AZ may make aspects of the case difficult for him to win, and he certainly has much better legal advice than I could give, I really hope he doesn’t have to give them a thing.
Because they don’t deserve it.
Digital Homicide doesn’t deserve anything. Not the attention they’ve received from being reviewed, knowingly and unknowingly, on Jim’s channel; not a place on Steam; not a single sale of one of their slapdash, low-rent games. Digital Homicide deserves obscurity and, though this may sound cruel, to have their company fail. Steam’s attitude toward curation has been to let the market dictate what succeeds. This means Steam customers, the tastemakers in the industry and their audiences, pick what will be successful. Jim shows Digi-Hom for what they are. People not in love with making games, but people in love with the idea of making easy money making games. They don’t have the heart and soul to put time and effort into making a masterpiece, just to throw as much wet trash at the wall to see if any of it sticks. Since they were called out for this behavior, they’re now trying to get that money from the critic who caught them in the act. A company made a bad product and this was rejected by the potential audience for the product. In this kind of market, the company should fail. With or without a Jim Sterling pointing out how awful they are or even if they hadn’t proven on numerous occasions that they are terrible businessmen and pretty awful people.
As a steadfast Jim patron I hope he doesn’t have to give them anything, dooms the company to the bankrupt obscurity it deserves, and he can turn his attention fully back to being our lord protector from shovelware and, more importantly, being the Dickensian circus barker who brings the attention of the public at large to little games we may have otherwise missed.
No matter the outcome, your audience is with you, Jim. Thank god for you…
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