Book of Demons Review Bomb Ukraine Support Russian Price cover

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Book of Demons Review Bombed Over Pro-Ukrainian Actions

March 2, 2022

By: Robert N. Adams

 
 

Indie action RPG Book of Demons is currently being review-bombed on Steam due to its unconventional response to the Ukraine conflict, including support for Ukrainian refugees and a 1,200% Russian price increase.

Book of Demons is an action RPG that you can make as difficult as you'd like. It's been a fairly successful game for an indie title and even had a crossover with Superhot. However, its Steam reviews have recently gone deeply into negative territory -- and it all has to do with an unusual decision made by the developers.

 

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The Reasons For the Book of Demons Review Bomb

Yesterday, Book of Demons developer Thing Trunk announced that it was going to donate a week's worth its share of sales to "NGOs that take care of refugees," following in the steps of other games such as This War of Mine. There's nothing particularly unusual about that -- a lot of game developers and publishers have rallied to support Ukraine in various ways.

 
 

What is unusual, however, is the second part of Thing Trunk's response to the Ukraine conflict. As explained in yesterday's announcementBook of Demons was increasing its price from 549₽ (approximately $5.28) to 6666₽ (approximately $64.21), a 1,214% increase. The Russian price change is temporary and is part of the company's plan to bring attention to its statement, the relevant portion of which is as follows:

This is a drastic measure, as we are aware that some of our greatest fans are from Russia, the country where love for the ARPG and the original Diablo is strong. Most of them probably are aghast with war crimes their government is committing on innocent Ukrainians. We know this might feel like punishment to some of them. Yet if this makes new players check our post for an explanation and thus allows us to be heard and reach those who are not aware of what the Russian government is really doing, then it will be worth it. We don't blame regular Russians, we are all brothers and sisters. It is their government that is to blame. The price will remain increased until further notice.

Thing Trunk's motivation behind the Russian price increase is certainly understandable, and the reaction to this is equally predictable -- the game has been review bombed into "Overwhelmingly Negative" territory.

 
 
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A graph of recent reviews for Book of Demons on Steam.

Most (though not all) of the most recent negative reviews are in Russian and complain about a variety of topics related to the Ukraine conflict and similar areas. A portion of the reviews instead complain about a game developer making a political statement.

As an example of these reviews, here are the top three recent reviews rated "Most Helpful" from the last day, machine-translated into English via Google:

So, the developers said their weighty word - they requested a price change for Russia by 6,666 rubles. in connection with the aggression in Ukraine. And I have a few questions: what about the price change for the US for questionable transactions in Kenya this year? Or let's punish Azerbaijan for the fact that they chopped off Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia?
Not? This does not count? Is it far away and you don't care?
Before writing such nonsense, at least pretend that you took an interest in the situation from different angles.
You can keep your double standards to yourself.

I will also contribute to what is happening, because the price has risen for the game, because of the situation in Ukraine, then the review is not on the game, but on the action of the developer.
Everyone around said that sports and media entertainment are out of politics. But, the next double standards have begun. And since you stick to them, it means that the rating of your game will fall down. Consider that these are our sanctions in response to your sanctions. You should not dragon ordinary people, we are consumers of your product and you decided to turn your ass to us. If you spit at us, we will drown; if we spit at you, you will drown. Undoubtedly, some European citizens and Western players will support you. But the RU community that comes to steam to play, and not to engage in politics, will destroy your rating. I suggest everyone to go to all the sites where you can evaluate the publisher, developer and this game and set the minimum rating, let the gentlemen pay for the politics in the gaming industry.

P.S. And finally, I will become the most terrible and evil Russian who will call to drown your career in order to make an example of you - steam is a platform for millions of people of all nationalities and citizenships, and players from all over the world will not allow you to bring politics here and incite ethnic hatred . If you want to support one of the parties, make DLC, not incite. I wish you a speedy end to your career.
I also created a petition that will be sent to Valve: https://chng.it/LwQwJXcnBs

You are Russophobes and racists! How are you better than Hitler? I did not pick up a machine gun and did not go to fight. I don't approve of THIS politics. I come here to rest, you deprive me of that.
Are you saying that I am the culprit of the war?! Where is your conscience?!

Games from other developers have had similar swings in their recent review scores based on their decisions to help Ukraine. Although This War of Mine has had a serious bump in positive review scores (and a smaller portion of negative reviews), 11 bit studios' other game Frostpunk and SCS Software's Euro Truck Simulator 2 (which also recently announced plans to raise money for Ukrainian relief) have had a roughly even mix of recent positive and negative reviews. We've observed similar patterns emerging across several other games that have signaled their support for Ukraine.

While the effect is certainly noticeable, it likely won't have any long-term impact on the game's overall Steam review score due to changes made to combat review bombs three years ago. You can buy Book of Demons for PC via Steam at the price of $24.99 or your regional equivalent.