Voidpoint, what are you doing? I am so confused at this point. After releasing a statement we posted last week in our Ion Fury post, the team at Voidpoint now seem to be doing something of a ridiculous U-turn.
Their original statement seemed reasonable and a good way to put an end to the situation. It sounded genuine enough anyway.
A few days later, they posted an announcement on Steam that's a joint statement from both developer Voidpoint and publisher 3D Realms. In this statement they say they "will absolutely NOT be censoring Ion Fury or any of our other games" and that they will not be "removing gags such as gaming’s most controversial facial wash". The facial wash in question has the homophobic slur "ogay" on the bottle, to which the statement mentions that they "regret our initial decision to alter a sprite in the game instead of trusting our instincts".
In another statement from publisher 3D Realms that IGN have posted, they made it clear the donation to a charity and the sensitivity training will still be happening. They also said "Jokes at the expense of marginalized communities will not be present in future games published by 3D Realms." that's nice but they're keeping in the aforementioned slur because "a portion of our community made it loud and clear" they wanted it to stay as otherwise it would be "censorship" and should be protected by "free speech".
Ion Fury ended up getting a bit of a review bomb. Their Steam rating was dropping down quite quickly and now Steam's "off-topic review activity" feature has kicked in:
The situation becomes murkier again when you look at what they've said on their official Twitter account. Like this one for example, where they said:
We didn't really censor anything, though. We're swapping one joke for another one that fits the game world better and deleting some bullshit a dev accidentally left outside of the playable area on a map (you had to noclip to find it).
So they said they weren't censoring anything and they were swapping out the "ogay" sprite with one that "fits the game world better". Now they seem to think it fits perfectly into their world—what the heck?
Other developers have now started jumping in too on Twitter, like Mike Rose of publisher No More Robots. Things got pretty heated there but what really got my attention was the reply to this particular post from Rose:
just so I understand -- you believe that making a joke, where you replace a part of a name with the word "gay" for a laugh -- is not you making a homophobic joke? like, are you a dev team of 8 year olds? you know it's 2019 and not the 90s, right?
The Voidpoint team simply replied with:
I believe in a concept called "intent"
I can't help but wonder what non-homophobic meaning they were going for, what exactly was their intent? Well, it certainly doesn't get any clearer when you see what Voidpoint said to another developer:
We came up with an unoffensive joke we liked better, but the PR company responsible added an entire extra sentence to our original apology statement that made tons of customers think we were censoring the whole game. All we could do is come out and say "no censorship."
Now they're throwing a PR company to the wolves too…
Taking everything that's been said, it's perfectly clear that Voidpoint just caved into the loud and hateful review bombers rather than take a proper stand. Not a good look in such a situation.