After writing about how the developer of Depth of Extinction revoked a user’s externally purchased Steam key after leaving a negative review, the developer reached out to give a statement.
Here’s what they said completely unedited and in full, quoted with their permission:
This game was my whole life for three years, and I was unprepared three weeks ago for how the launch and first wave of negative reviews would impact me emotionally. I reacted poorly to a negative review by a person who had purchased our alpha key on a different platform. I took the review personally. My response of revoking the key was wrong and I will not try to explain it away, but will take full responsibility. I gave them a new key the next morning after they emailed me and I also apologized to them over email. Here's a further apology to anyone else who is offended by these events - I am truly sorry for my actions. I'm hoping that I can use this incident to continue to grow and mature as a human and as a game developer.
I’m glad the developer decided to reach out about this, to help clear the air.
Do I think they did an incredibly stupid thing? Absolutely. Let's be clear on this as they said so themselves, they did do it and they did mean to. It's a situation that should have never happened in the first place. It took the user realising it had been done to bring it to light, otherwise they would have gotten away without understanding how wrong it was and why. However, it was a very human response and I don’t think they’re the devil. No one is infallible. Steam is an incredibly competitive environment now (especially for indies), far more than it ever was and the initial bunch of reviews can completely sink a game. It's why so many developers are desperate for more user reviews as it affects how they're shown across Steam.
Do I think people should now refuse to support them? No. People do make mistakes, sometimes rather colossal ones but it doesn’t automatically mean they’re a terrible person. I’m still really not impressed with what they did in the heat of the moment but I always feel that people should be given a second chance.
There has been some confusion on it across the web, since the previous article was shared in many places by others.
I did try to make it clear about it not being a direct Steam purchase noting in the title it was a “Steam key” and explaining exactly where it came from in the text. To clear that up for sure, direct purchases from Steam cannot be simply revoked by a developer at the click of a button. The issue here, is that the developer gave out "beta" keys to people who purchased it on itch.io which can be revoked, which is of course another thing that wasn't done right.
Regardless, a point I feel I need to make, is that even if it was a free key for a review as some believed, you do not give keys to people for a good review—that would be review manipulation and that’s absolutely not good either.
To make something else clear, we will report on both good and bad news and not shy away from it. Regardless of it being from a AAA or an indie. To filter out bad news and business practices, just because “they’re a small developer” or any other reasons would not be the respectable thing for us to do. As always though, I will absolutely take feedback on board about how we frame things, it's important to me personally to keep improving.