One of the best aspects of the internet—and the social revolution therein—is that it is easier than ever before to ensure customer satisfaction. In that, of course, I mean that consumers really do have a voice in a marketing system that relies heavy on word-of-mouth which, in this day and age, means “shares” and “likes” online.
When consumers can openly share how much they like—or dislike—a product, it can dramatically impact a company’s success. And such is the case, today, with developers at software company Digital Homicide Studios. It is not uncommon for gamers to rant at the devs over issues they have with their games; but in this case, the back-and-forth may have gone too far.
In March 2016, the developer/publisher actually filed a lawsuit against British video game critic Jim Sterling, claiming that his negative reaction to their game qualifies as both slander and libel as well as assault. Originally a $10 million lawsuit, they eventually raised the stakes to $15 million.
Now, Sterling is widely known as a consistent critic of Digital Homicide’s games and this time it was no different. The game he had reviewed at the time—“The Slaughtering Grounds”—was rife with glitches, poor graphical quality, and a clunky control scheme.
But this is not the end of it. The case Sterling is dealing with actually can’t compare to the one Digital Homicide cofounder James Oliver Romine, Jr has recently opened, a case in which the list of defendants consists of more than 100 anonymous Steam users, to the tune of $18 million, for “personal injury.”
Apparently, these users had all panned the game.
Of course, Steam owner Valve can opt to contest the subpoena but the company has only responded to this matter by removing Digital Homicide software from its interface.
Not to back down from this fight, Romine has responded:
“By removing us they have taken the stance that users have the right to harass me, tell me I should kill myself, and insult my family. If I try to defend myself against said actions then I lose my family’s income. If it wasn’t for 2 years of experience of dealing with Steam on a regular basis, this disgusting stance would seem shocking to me. The only thing that prevented me seeking legal counsel for a long list of breach of contracts, interference with business, and anti-trust issues was the fear of losing my family’s income. Since that has been taken away I am seeking legal representation.”