Popular games critic TotalBiscuit has landed himself in a situation very similar to the one between himself and Day One: Garry’s Incident creator, Wild Games Studio.
After uploading “WTF Is…- Guise of the Wolf?“, TotalBiscuit was issued a copyright strike, taking the video down and giving TB a second copyright strike. For those who aren’t aware of how the strike system works, according to Youtube’s guide to copyright:
“If you receive three copyright strikes, your account will be suspended and all the videos uploaded to your account will be removed. Users with suspended accounts are prohibited from creating new accounts.”
The reason for the take-down was at first unknown, with Guise of the Wolf developer Fun Creators denying any involvement even though the copyright claim in the title states it was made by them. Maker Studios, whom TotalBiscuit creates content for, confirmed it was Fun Creators through a tweet by VP David Sievers:
— David Sievers (@dnsievers) February 14, 2014
Guise of the Wolf was originally a Steam Greenlight title, first posted Januray 25, 2013, and finally being Greenlit August 28, 2013. Since the official Steam release January 24, 2014, the game has been near-universally panned, even causing industry critic Jim Sterling to question Early Alpha and Steam Greenlight games as a viable model in the latest episode of Jimquisition.
TotalBiscuit’s critique of the game focused on the poor graphics, bad plot and the general level of polish the game lacked. As critique however, the video should have been protected under fair-use, meaning the video should not have been able to have been taken down by a copyright strike.
Even though FUN Creators denied making the claim, TotalBiscuit posted an email exchange between both FUN Creators and a member of TB’s PR team (A screengrab of the exchange is also available on Imgur):
Responding to this, FUN Creators have repeatedly claimed that the exchange is faked and an attempt at blackmail:
For what purpose blackmail would serve, we have no idea. Zooc Does Stuff, another professional Youtuber and Cynical Brit staffer, posted a video of himself inspecting the email, proving the legitimacy of the message:
FUN Creators have so far had the last word on the matter:
We wonder why TB is doing this, it’s really strange. However, we will stop talking about this incident. It’s like trolling us to nowhere. — FUN Creators (@FUNCreators) February 15, 2014
There have been no further developments since this point, but to what do FUN Creator have to gain from all of this? Many argue the reason is PR, with FUN Creators attempting to drum up some controversy to get their game into the gaming collective conscious, and perhaps more sales. This most likely isn’t it, or if it was, it won’t be very effective. Redditor MaunaLoona uses this chart of hours played in Day One: Garry’s Incident to show that the previous controversy involving that game had no effect on how many people played the game: This is not a perfect indicator of the games actual sales, but it stands to reason that if people bought the game, the average amount of hours spent in game would rise over time, instead of falling as shown. Another possibility is that the claim is coming from an impostor claiming to be FUN Creators. In an exchange on Guise of the Wolf’s Steam community page forum three weeks ago, FUN Creators rejected the idea of raising a copyright claim against TotalBiscuit to reduce the negative criticism surrounding the game. FUN Creators used this as an evidence of their innocence in their Twitter exchange with TB.
This has been dismissed by many due to FUN Creators banning and deleting posts the criticize the game on the Discussion forum. As an added measure, they have made it so only those who own the game can post. While not damning, it isn’t a positive bow in their quiver. At the very least, Fun Creators haven’t acted exactly professional during the debacle, resorting to legal threats and petty accusations, instead of either owning up to what they did, or investigating the issue.
Until the situation develops further, this whole issue is best summed up best by Deep Silver Director of PR, Aubrey Norris:
Dear Indie devs: Don’t do your own PR. Don’t do your own PR. Don’t do your own PR. Don’t do your own PR. Don’t do your own PR. Don’t. Don’t.
— Aubrey Norris (@Chupacaubrey) February 15, 2014
This stokes more coal into the fire that is the Youtube copyright system, and the creators ability to protect their content. It is also a blow against the viability of Steam Greenlight and similar systems to get indie content onto the market. Cases such as this make it harder for indie develops to gain consumer trust, meaning less unique experiences reach the market.
The flip-side of this is that less quality titles would reach the public eye. Not every title can come out big free, nor can they all reach a level of excellence. Minimum standards do need to be maintained however, standards that Guise of the Wolf has failed to reach. This means a balance between the current Greenlight system, and only games with publisher backing getting into Steam, will need to be introduced.
We do not support the removal of criticism, as long as it is intelligent. While it may be terrible to see something you slaved away at be torn apart, it is what drives us to do better by realizing where we went wrong. It is easy to dismiss them as trolls and “haters”, but TB was neither, and we wish him the best as resolving this issue.
FUN Creators have sent TotalBiscuit another email, according to a screengrab posted on TB’s twitter (Imgur link here):
If this is true, all pretense of civility has just been thrown out of the window. Total Biscuit followed this with:
@funcreators Please direct all future communication to our lawyer, who you have been in contact with for a few days now. Thanks.
— TotalBiscuit (@Totalbiscuit) February 15, 2014
To which FUN Creators replied:
No @Totalbiscuit , sorry! After this emails game. Please contact us directly & let’s have 2 trusted people to be CCed, agree?
— FUN Creators (@FUNCreators) February 15, 2014
It seems like one of two things may happen. Either this series of events comes to a head in the next few days, or there is a stalemate for the foreseeable future. With neither side giving any leeway, and with the evidence pointing to FUN Creators being in the wrong, it may be between a few days or a few weeks until we find out what is going on