Steam users are attacking Firewatch‘s rating on the platform’s store, after its developers filed a DMCA claim against PewDiePie over the YouTube creator’s use of a racial slur.
The game’s writer and co-director Sean Vanaman revealed that developer Campo Santo would be “filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie’s Firewatch content,” after the YouTuber blurted out the n-word during a live stream. “There is a bit of leeway you have to have with the internet when u wake up every day and make video games. There’s also a breaking point,” Vanaman continued, adding: “I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make. He’s worse than a closeted racist: he’s a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry.”
We’re filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie’s Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games.
— Sean Vanaman (@vanaman) September 10, 2017
Those defending PewDiePie quickly turned against Vanaman, and this backlash has now spilled out onto Firewatch‘s Steam page, with its user rating nose-diving from Very Positive to Mixed and negative reviews continuing to pile in.
One user, who had spent 10 minutes with the game prior to reviewing it, wrote: “Campo Santo should be ashamed of itself for issueing a false DMCA takedown for something they had already give explicit permission on their website to monetize. I’m tired of being lectured to by lefist, communist, sjw pieces of excrement about what is acceptable and what is abhorent. What Pewdipie did was racist and I don’t condone it, but Campo Santo decided to do somthing that’s possibly even illegal and encouraging other developers to do so is sickening.”
Another reviewer wrote: “Terrible story, too short, and social justice warrior developers. Forgettable game. 3/10.” Another added: “Game is totally linear and NOT as intriguing as trailer suggested. Game creators also support total censorship! Waste of money and time. PewDiePie did nothing wrong btw.”
DMCA claims are typically used to prevent copyrighted material from appearing on YouTube, though there have been many instances of companies and individuals abusing the system to prevent content they disagree with from appearing on the video-sharing site. While DMCA claims are a gray area legally, Campo Santo were criticized as a result of them previously outlining to the game’s players on their website that they were allowed to stream their game. Since the announcement that they would be filing a DMCA takedown against PewDiePie they have retracted this claim, though many believe that they should not be allowed to retroactively issue a claim against PewDiePie after previously allowing him to upload videos featuring Firewatch to his channel.
DMCA claims can seriously damage YouTube channels, as they count as “copyright strikes” against a channel that can affect an individual’s ability to monetize their videos. Vanaman called upon other developers to issue similar DMCA claims against PewDiePie, which could eventually lead to the YouTuber’s channel being taken down, if enough companies follow suit.
This isn’t the first time Steam users have utilized the platform’s review system to protest against a game. In August, negative reviews swarmed Dota 2‘s page after it was suggested that the game had prevented Valve from working on Half-Life 3. Though Steam requires its users to own a game in their library before posting a review of it, many will purchase a game to protest against its creators. It remains to be seen whether or not Firewatch‘s user rating will continue to plummet, but for those unaware of the current PewDiePie controversy, its mixed user reviews may prove to be off-putting to those looking to pick the game up.