Update: James Romine got back to us with some details on the situation and a few thoughts in general. There are a couple elements here, and the rest can be found below:
It is important thing to note - Digital Homicide didn't file a dismissal or a case. The company had pretty much nothing to do with the case other than some evidence. Which was why we were surprised by the result. It's like a manager at a large mall shop filing suit against some harassers who've been attacking him inside and outside of his shop, and the entire shops removed. It's confusing.
We may have been painted in a negative customer light by gaming media, truthfully we've been fighting for lower prices and a more open market - which to me is the most important thing for consumers.
First spotted by the Steam group Digital Homicides, the filing cites the reason for the dismissal is that the developer lacks the funds to continue the case due to the fact that their business was destroyed after filing the case, financially disabling them. We have independently confirmed that the filing does exist and a copy of it can be found at the bottom of this article. In the filing, we learn that they initiated the case on the advice of their local sheriff, who was not able to help them on what Digital Homicide calls a Criminal Harassment matter under Arizona State Law 13-2921, which covers all harassment including anonymous electronic harassment. Per the statute, which does not include consideration of case law which shapes the practical use of the law, harassment is defined as:
Conduct that is directed at a specific person and that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed and the conduct in fact seriously alarms, annoys or harasses the person.The request to dismiss without prejudice means that, if granted, Digital Homicide would be able to bring the case again in the future if they wished and not run into issues around double jeopardy.
We have reached out to Digital Homicide and Valve for comment. We will update if they respond or if we learn more about the situation.
Below, is the court filing we have uploaded, albeit with Romine's address and phone number redacted.
Update 2: Jame's Romine got back to us with a pretty extensive response.
On the Case
At least two were competitors.The case dismissal was only due to financial reasons caused by the removal of our games. I believe the case was very solid. There were in excess of 140 false statements by the 11 steam users, tens of thousands of posts harassing myself and my customers, three direct interference with written contracts with third parties by steam users (some of which were competitors), and much more. A combined in excess of 25 reports were filed against the worst users of the 11 with no resolutions being found.Then I get labeled as hostile for defending my few customers that speak English. We've received a lot of bad emails but there's been in excess of fifty positive emails over the past year more than a few from non-english speakers. Supporters would like to talk publicly but they don't want to be harassed, which I understand.
Insufficient harassment control mechanism's is definitely the other problem. A review should be enough of a open area to discuss displeasure of actual customers. When I ban someone who isn't even a customer that's been harassing me for 18+ months after reporting them 3-12 times, for a false statement or harassing me or a customer - I don't expect to have to listen to them insult me for 2-3 days afterwards in a direct communication line. If I do - it's a problem with moderation controls and why is 30% of my sales a proper cut without supplying security that would be expected in any business environment. It's like a mall charging you rent for a shop and mall security staying at the donut shop all day while you get mobbed and looted. Then I get competitors leaving bad reviews on my launches, putting false statements in my reviews and running the game on unsupported platforms to make it look broken, and when I complain I am ignored. This would be like the next shop over in the mall coming next door and posting signs on my business with false information on them. How is that logically allowable?
Sterling case waits for dismissal decision. No other comment on this.
As far as digital homicide? It's destroyed. It's been stomped into the ground from a thousand directions and use is discontinued. I'm going back into the work force and watching what's really going on. Not gaming media gossip - the real stories are in the legal documents. Not talking about mine.We weren't some evil censoring dudes. If someone didn't like the game they could leave a bad review and refund - no hard feelings here at all. I was even rebuilding forsaken and the single player was about 1/3 finished. Construction, inventory was all wrapped up and I was working on a strategy aspect. Those customers will now never see it. I expect random trolls showing up - no big deal. I'd even leave their stuff there if it wasn't too vile. The problem real problem was reoccurring returning attackers for in some cases 20 months. I'm a stationary target as a store front. I can't just log out and not come back. When that started getting aimed at customers is what triggered the case. But... I'm hostile.The 7 or so lawsuits in the link below (it might look like 70 or so but a bunch of those are combined into one now). Five of them were in the past 2-3 months.
Greenlight itself, to me, is a barrier to entry to market. The question you have to ask yourself is, why are there non triple A publishers with publisher access (one published 18 games in the past 2 months) while others are forced to try and market through a broken system while being harassed.See this here : http://store.steampowered.com/search/?sort_by=Released_DESC&publisher=United%20Independent%20Entertainment%20GmbHThey released over 24 games released since may with most being in the last two months or so. 60+ percent of their games are mostly negative or worse and they don't have the Youtube train running over them. None of those had to go through Greenlight.See the X1.png a game that got through Monday last week. Hundreds of examples of these and our stuff has at least and in some cases significantly more work into them.
Why is it some have to wait while others publish freely. Obviously by the shown reviews of those games above - it's not a customer satisfaction thing.
Update 1: The Filing was removed from Scribd. We have a screenshot version of it here below.