A situation evolved overnight on Steam regarding DoubleBear's kickstarted game Dead State and a flagged review. We held off on reporting what was going on until we had more information. However, since DoubleBear has released an official statement and neither party has responded as of yet, we feel we need to give you the facts that there currently are.
The situation gained notice when a negative review was posted on Steam about Dead State, DoubleBear's first game that was kickstarted. The review was negative, and largely focused on DoubleBear as a Company instead of the game, and was at one point flagged by the dev. It was then posted on Imgur and taken to reddit where its gone viral, getting over 4000 upvotes on r/gaming and over 1500 comments. Here, is the review in question:
This prompted a lot of outrage there as the number of responses shows and more negative reviews flooded in on steam and the steam forums - an impact of the dreaded Streisand effect.
The exact timeframe from here is a bit difficult to put together so this is the best that can be done, as it is putting together the way it was unfolded publicly here rather then the exact order the events happened in.
As people looked around, and Annie V. Mitsoda's twitter became a clear place to look as she was talking some about it and active. There were a few things there that impacted this :
And then she posted another one linking to her blog about where her mental state was. The blog post is quoted here, in entirety for completeness:
Exhaustion. I never thought my reserves of being strong were inexhaustible by any means, but like, I never knew HOW exhausted they could be. I’m spent into a DEFICIT. It’s the point where one wants to look for some kind of help from some benevolent soul with a lot of clout to just - one kind word. Well, one PUBLIC kind word. A pat on the shoulder in private doesn’t do much if it can’t save the things (and ultimately people) that I care about. And that one person could do so much harm - one fucker who thinks we one him an apology for BUGS being in a GAME! And who is willing to try and burn down the reputation of my company because we don’t want to respond to his hijack and his harassment - it’s staggering. What the fuck. What possible reason could a $30 purchase warrant that is like “fuck these people and their not bending over backwards to publically flog themselves because I asked them to, TIME TO TRY AND RUIN THEIR COMPANY.” Is it that negativity is really that strong? (HA, and at a leading question, Tumblr automatically pops up an “Let people answer this” box. No thanks, Tumblr. I don’t think I really want to know) I don’t need 10s. Or A+ or green or whatever passes for high marks. I know how hard we worked and I know the flaws and I know what we can (and will fix) and what we can’t. I would just settle for people not acting like we’re some kind of ENEMIES of theirs. That would be swell. … And while I’m asking for impossible things, a positive Tweet from Notch would be fucking STELLAR.Many people on Twitter took this as an immature response and quoted it negatively. Now earlier this morning we had the following tweet from Annie which goes against the picture there and would later be corrected:
Or another one
Moving away from Annie for a moment, the official DoubleBear Forums on Iron Tower Studios had a thread on the topic of course going on and one of the moderators there answered why it had been flagged.
The review got flagged because it got 5-600 votes an hour after the guy threatened to spam with alt-accounts, not because he was being critical of the game. - Caidoz (Moderator)Researching the matter showed that, while the official forums appeared to be civil, there had been some deleted things on the steam ones, and there were still locked ones there. One of the threads there was locked, after apparently being deleted twice previously that you can read here.
Another thread was deleted entirely and only saved partially as a webcache - and it was after a previous one had been locked. This one got locked and then for some reason later it got deleted as well. It appears to be somewhat of a repeating pattern there allegedly by the people who are upset with DoubleBear, largely with releasing the game with the bugs it had.
Annie attempted to post to the Reddit thread but her links on twitter failed. However it was later dredged up a link to them and you can read it here, as its essentially a longform of her twitter posts.
Shortly after that she provided imgur's of the posts that were from a deleted thread that the reviewer made that they had claimed had been trouble some. These are presented here for you to read.
We are obviously lacking the whole thread here so context is lacking. There is no direct threat that he will make 100s of alts though his first one capped there can be read as an implied one to do so. Whether demanding an apology for a buggy game repeatedly and directly constitutes harassment is up to ones own mind.
Within an hour of the post linking those a few more tweets came out from Annie regarding the game that contradicted some of her earlier statements on the game.
The update above, is from Brian Mitsoda, Annie's husband and generally speaking DoubleBear's face. Here, is a link to it, and the post in full is below:
The review poster was originally addressed on the forums, and after the thread began to get off-topic, it was closed down by a developer.
A second topic, which restated the exact same comments as the previous thread, was started by the same poster, after which it began to also go off-topic and became abusive. That thread was closed by a moderator, and after abusive comments towards both the devs and mods (including demanding a personal, public apology), a mod banned the original poster. The original poster still posts with an alt, who has not been banned.
A third topic has been opened stating the exact same things as the first two threads. It has not been closed.
The poster, after being banned for abusive comments, posted a long review that focused less on the game, and more on DoubleBear as a company. The review contains only one line about the actual game, and instead focuses on the bugs in the game, and reiterates the demand for a personal apology - it does not mention that DoubleBear has released four patches within two weeks addressing many of the major issues. The original poster never stated what their issues were, and has ignored attempts from the dev team to work to get them solved.
We have since learned (this morning) that the review was flagged by someone on the dev team, based on Steam guidelines regarding off-topic reviews - their actions are currently under internal review. We apologize for any confusion or misinformation relating to this, and have been piecing this together (a tough thing to do over the holidays - we're not exactly "in the office")
As you can see, the review is no longer flagged. Additionally, you will notice there are plenty of negative reviews that are not flagged. We do not possess the ability to delete reviews, and we left all of the reviews, positive or negative, up.
A post went up on Reddit yesterday, which a developer responded to personally, and the dev response was apparently deleted. We will do our best to clear up any misunderstandings relating to the incident.
I know it's easy to see something on Reddit or on forums and instantly take the side of the consumer, but this is the impact of someone who is trying to crowdsource their frustration by painting us as some kind of curmudgeons against free speech. This is one person's word against ours. We have a history of not only interacting with our forums, documenting our every move on Kickstarter, being frank on our forums, and working with the community to fix bugs and address issues with the game. We welcome all feedback, be it positive or negative, and would never try to shut down any criticism.
We're sorry if this event has shaken your faith in DoubleBear, and we urge you to look at our Kickstarter history, our forums, and our interactions with people here in the Steam community to find our standard of politeness and eagerness to solve issues. We stand by our game, our devs, and our mods, and we stand with those who have been kind enough to take a chance on buying our game and supporting us. We will always do our best to support you, and pay back that faith in kind. Thank you, and Happy Holidays
We have reached out to Double Bear and to FierHorn79 (Via Steam as we can), but have received no response as of yet. We will update this with any further information that comes out.
Update: Fierhorn79 has posted a reply to Brian's statement on the game's steam forum under the name Fierhorn. The thread has now been locked by the devs for bypassing the forum ban and was also banned from the forum for it, but here is the reply:
My reply to Brian and Dead State Devs I wanted to take a minute to both defend myself and address Brian and Annie Mitsoda's statements. When I saw that Brian Mitsoda made a response it gave me hope that he and DoubleBear would address that main reason for my review not just the fact that the Review was wrongfully flagged by someone at Doublebear and then continue into a rant trying to discredit me. That main concern being the business decision to move a game from Early Access to full release during the Steam holiday season. The game on the release date had a long list of known bugs, several of them either game or story breaking. Yes there have been patches and some of the bugs have been fixed, but this does not cancel out they original concern. The choice that was made looks like Doublebear tried to trick gamers into buying a game thinking it was finished when in fact by DoubleBears own known issues list on the day of release it was not done. I and now I think others feel that a company should be held accountable for these type of actions.Edit: There was a minor error where I referred to Brian as Annie's wife... that has been corrected. Apologies.
I have never asked for an extreme punishment, all I expected was for Doublebear to say what was going on to cause them to do this and to issue an apology to their loyal fans. Is open communication too much to ask for from the people who funded your game. Instead of dealing with my concerns directly Developers and mods have tried to silence myself and others. This game would not be a reality without people like me with our little 30 dollars. The attitude that I have seen from DoubleBear has come off at entitled and ungrateful for the opportunity that has been given to them. Now onto less important stuff. My defense. First of I want to say I was deeply offended by Annie Mitsoda's personal attacks on me on tumblr. Being called a @ickbag & #ucker was far less offensive than the way she disregards my 30 dollars. Just so you know that 30 bucks is three hours of my work day. I might be nothing to you but I put my hard earned money towards your dream. http://imgur.com/p97JvCI http://murderblonde.tumblr.com/post/105832304380/exhaustion
Brain and friends at DoubleBear continue to claim I engaged in "abusive comments towards both the devs and mods" and this is why threads were locked and deleted. This is not the case , I as well never harassed anyone. They can't provide screen shot of where I did any of the things they claim because they did not happen. What screen shots of locked and deleted threads they do show are just snippets without showing what anyone else is say. I was never off topic ,never spammed, never directly attacked anyone. The claim that I harassed DoubleBear requesting a public apology be given to the community is just absurd. I was the only one on any of these forums to get banned when there were people making direct personal attacks on me that were defending the developers that were not even given a warning by the DoubleBear mods.
1)First thread was shut down for no good reason. 2)Second one I thought maybe they shut it down because the attacks on me. I knew I did not break the rules so I made another post pasting most of the OP and then adding another paragraph to make it new. This was right away shut down. 3)Third post was a little snarky post about how they shut down post that are on the top that are critical. 4)Fourth post was actually made by another person. This is the one I got banned in and I did nothing except ask Brian to say sorry. Never broke a forum rule once. No warning just a ban. Yes you will notice #114 &115 are back to back but that is only because the I did not copy the second part over from my wordpad. You will notice that there are several posts in between #115 and my next post. Too bad the devs only provide what I say in a attempt to manipulate the way this looks. http://imgur.com/tjdBGs9 http://imgur.com/Tj84fUi 5)I by this point was not happy. I felt like an American being silenced and someone who my 30 bucks and support was being treated like trash. I contacted the mod(Caidoz) through a private ban email. Its funny how they just provide one snippet of the conversation and deleted the email from my account so I can't provide a picture. Yes I did say I can just create tons of alt account in this private chat. I wanted Caidoz to know his ability to silence had no power over me. I never once said I was going to abuse this and mass spam threads or upvote my own review. First of the time and money it would take to get 300 accounts is ridiculous. http://imgur.com/l0XxiVX
I have had this alt account for 6+ years and I did not use it until now to defend myself after many attacks. So with all the above being said I am a forgiving gamer. If DoubleBear publicly apologies for the early release and explains why they did it then I think everyone should forgive and get behind this company to help them finish what I think will be a great game when complete. On a personal note I think Brian and Annie Mitsoda's own me a private apology for the slander and attacks personally against me.
Updated: Added that Fierhorn's alt account was banned for ban evasion along with his reply thread being locked
What do you think of this situation? Do you think that what FierHorn wrote was actually a review? Have you played Dead State, and if so what was your take on the game? Tell us in the comments below!