Recently, we talked about Campo Santo, the studio behind adventure game Firewatch, and its campaign against foul-mouthed YouTuber Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg. A studio official announced his intention to have Kjellberg’s footage of their game removed and called on other studios to treat him the same. Now Kjellberg’s supporters are striking back by going after Firewatch‘s review page.
It’s called “review bombing,” and it’s the practice of spamming a game with negative reviews to force its overall rating down. All you need to do is glance at the Firewatch Steam page to find the reviews from people who have a few words for the developer.
It’s far from the first time detractors of a game or developer have taken to the review sections to voice their displeasure. Recently, reviewers slammed Valve’s DOTA 2 because the release of a Half-Life 3 fanfiction made it seem like the company wouldn’t be making the latter game (it makes as much sense as it sounds). Before that, Nier: Automata was flooded with poor reviews from Chinese gamers after it was released without Chinese language support.
I insisted in my original article on Campo Santo vs Kjellberg that trying to lead a witch hunt against someone for language you dislike — and way to make a sensitive subject involving race relations all about your video game — isn’t the way to go about things. Now I’ll turn around and insist the same thing to the gamers review-bombing Firewatch.
I don’t think this is the way to handle things either. Using automated systems to shut down (or shout down) someone’s work just because you disagree with something they said is pretty much exactly what Campo Santo is doing — and I’d like gamers to be big enough not to respond in kind.