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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Parnautical Activity Scandal

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Yesterday the PC gaming world had a bit of a scandal pop up involving the newly released game Paranautical Activity by Code Avarice. Story after story began popping up on gaming news sites, and blogs. While I wanted to write about the situation I actually sat back and watched. My reasons were that everyone else was producing the same story, and well......everyone was more or less bashing this indie company into the ground for the remarks that were made and I wanted to see more develop before I spoke on this. So here is what went down, and my opinions on the situation that has severely wounded this company.

Yesterday was supposed to be an amazing day for Code Avarice as a indie gaming company. Their new game released on steam and was featured on the Steam Store front page which would have (hopefully) netted them thousands of dollars due to the front page exposure. Instead, the worst nightmare of these up and coming developers came to be. There was an error on steams end, which marked the game as still being in "early access" an error which Mike Murderbeck, one of Paranauticals developers who had worked long and hard on this game took very personally. What followed was a tirade of insults against steam on his twitter feed questioning the "Monopoly" steam has over the PC game market as well as accusations of them being Incompetent. While his frustration was totally understandable at this point minus being a bit unprofessional his outburst was pretty harmless. However moments later this seemingly normal rant would get a lot more serious when he would post a "death threat" against the owner of Steam "I'm going to kill gabe newell. He is going to die". To question the business policy, as well as the hold Steam has on PC gaming is one thing, but to issue a public death threat against anyone seems to have crossed the line. Soon after the post popped up, it was deleted.....but so was Paranautical Activity" from steam. Valve made the decision to pull the game from steam, while leaving the community page up as well as allowing any updates to people who have already purchased the title.

Since all this has happened there has been a whole lot of bad press, and comments from the gaming community. Some of Code Avarice's hardcore fan base claim that steam has overreacted and since steam is the only worth while distribution platform for PC gaming that their decision is ruining the careers of everyone involved. However the majority of comments that I've seen are more along the lines of "Don't bite the hand that feeds you". In his defense, Mike Murderbeck has apologized for his outburst, and openly admits that it was a stupid decision. Earlier today Mike announced that he is stepping down from Code Avarice in this blog post. Later an official apology was released on the companies website to Valve, and Gabe Newell.

Gabe Newell

What is next for Code Avarice? This is a good question. Travis, another one of the developers, and owner of Code Avarice has stated that he will not kill the company and start over. So it will be an uphill battle for sure. The company is no stranger to bad publicity and outbursts like this. Mike has been known to verbally attack critics of their games, and according to other developers and bundle release platforms a "Nightmare to work with". However, despite the bad reputation I have to say that since he has stepped down from the company I think it is possible for them to make it back onto the steam platform. I'll go further to say that I do feel bad for Travis, and the other developers who worked long and hard on a game, and did nothing wrong to be punished for the actions of someone else now that they have left the company. I understand steam removing the game and cutting ties with a company who issued threats against them. However with the person now no longer associated with Code Avarice I think the right thing to do would be to give them a second chance. I contacted Code Avarice on twitter and asked if there were plans to get the title back on steam.


I think PA is done with Steam. I am in no hurry to deal with it. I will just move on to the next title.


If you are interested in playing Paranautical Activity though, the good news is that you can head over to http://codeavarice.com/ and click "Buy Paranautical Activity" to purchase for $9.99.

Psi's conclusion
I feel like Monopoly is a strong word to describe the hold steam has over the PC market. There are other distribution methods out there and honestly it is not Gabe Newell's, or Valves fault that the other methods are lackluster to say the least. However, there is a good argument that for an indie developer steam is almost needed to succeed into today's market. Sure, some developers such as Adam Ryland has built a sturdy fan base off of his Total Extreme Wrestling simulators and does his publishing through http://www.greydogsoftware.com/. However this is a rare exception, and to be fair Adam has been building his fan base for years with his EWR titles. I also feel that blaming an entire team of developers and company for one persons outburst is totally unfair. Was a death threat out of line? Of course it was. Nobody, even Code Avarice is claiming it wasn't. However the situation has been dealt with, apologies have been given and people are now moving on, and so should we. Myself and everyone who helps with Ragetrip Gaming wish nothing but the best for Code Avarice in the future, and as fans of indie gaming I hope that this developer continues to release games for the fans of their work and the entire PC gaming market.

~*Code Avarice Links*~
 Code Avarice Official Website
Code Avarice Twitter

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