Michael Forgey was an Executive Producer at Monolith Productions. Some of his previous projects in the industry included working on Fable and the Gears of War franchise, but he died from a rare form of brain cancer called glioblastoma last year on March 3. The stage of his condition was inoperable, but a YouCaring fundraiser was set up to cover his medical expenses and provide for his family, which is still ongoing and currently sits at $130,515. However, his friends from Monolith have decided to memorialize his impact on the studio and everyone he knew with an in-game character in the upcoming Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
Bearing his likeness and even wielding a guitar club to honor Forgey's passion for music, "Forthog Orc-Slayer" is an Orc NPC that will randomly appear to save Talion from certain death, which is the studio's "way to continue having Mike leap into battle and save us when we're down." It's a touching tribute to a beloved man, and the reason why it's being set up as paid DLC is so $3.50 of every $4.99 spent toward it will go to Forgey's family.
However, there are some finer legal details of the DLC that, unfortunately, raise some questions about how it's being handled by the publisher . As first spotted by John Bain, the end of the trailer states that "WB Games will donate $3.50 of every Forthog Orc Slayer purchase to the Forgey family through December 31, 2019." However, the word "every" isn't exactly accurate in contrast to the small text near the bottom and in the YouTube video's description, which states:
WB Games will donate to the Forgey family $3.50 from every purchase of the Forthog Orcslayer made from any 1 of the 50 United States or D.C. (but, excluding purchases made from AL, HI, IL, MA, MS and SC) through December 31, 2019. Void where prohibited by law. Your purchase is not tax deductible.Not only will none of the funds generated from this DLC go toward its intended people, but also will not apply to any purchases made outside of the United States, given the wording of this statement. This means that, when considering global sales of this DLC, the publisher will likely benefit much more from this than the Forgey family.
This is probably the result of unfortunate legal issues with how WB allocates proceedings to a family rather than an organization that cannot be avoided on an international scale. Nevertheless, it does raise concerns as to why WB wouldn't find another means to provide as much to the Forgey family as possible, such as by offsetting the funds gained internationally by making all DLC purchases in the US go toward them. As Bain suggests, finding a way to contribute to the DefeatGBM subsidiary of the National Brain Tumor Society seems possible with the funds gained outside the US. Or other organizations such as the American Brain Tumor Association.
More recently, a representative from Warner Brothers gave a statement to Eurogamer's News Editor Wesley Yin-Poole that doesn't really clear up anything.
Neither Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment nor Monolith Productions will profit from any sales of the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC regardless of the territory in which that DLC is sold.
Quick TakeAs Yin-Poole points out, the short statement suggests that profits from international sales will be contributed to the Forgey family, but does "territories" include the US states that the trailer specifically mentions? Perhaps Warner Bros. is secretly following up on its $3.50 donations everywhere but is unable to say so publicly.
Either way, it's a strange and incredibly sensitive situation. I should stress that Monolith's tribute in itself should be commended; the gesture to immortalize Michael Forgey in a series he contributed much to is a great way to raise awareness for him and even research toward addressing brain cancers like glioblastoma. However, it stands that how this is being done raises ethical concerns for the game industry about how to treat touchy issues like this when money is involved.
Will you be purchasing the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC for Shadow of War? Do you think that WB is going about this in the best way possible, or might the publisher reconsider how it is presenting this content? Let us know in the comments section below.