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Guise of the Wolf Dev takes down negative YouTube review, denies it
by Ron Dippold on 02/15/14 10:58:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


There's an old joke about 'Well at least you can serve as a bad example'. Here's a great one on how not to handle PR.

The Studio and the Game

Fun Creators, a dev studio based in Amman, Jordan managed to get Guise of the Wolf  through Steam Greenlight. They then secured a publishing deal with Merge Games.


The Review

The extremely popular YouTube critic Total Biscuit did a review of the game. It is admittedly brutal, but not incorrect. Fun Creators decided to file a YouTube copyright takedown claim on the review.

This is extremely serious in several ways: first, YouTube is pathetically lax - I could file a copyright claim on your video of your cat licking itself and they'd take it down, no questions asked. Sometimes they even  preemptively file takedowns based on their own defective software flagging something. So filing a claim immediately censors the review. It's still down. (As the studio, you might even consider this a positive!)

Worse, this counts as a strike against Total Biscuit. He is now a Copyright Criminal, and subject to his entire channel being yanked and all his revenue being taken away if he gets enough takedown strikes, legitimate or bogus.


The Fallout

Fun Creators denied filing the takedown.

Total Biscuit posted an email showing otherwise:

So @funcreators denied taking down our Guise of the Wolf videos. This email from them shows otherwise.— TotalBiscuit (@Totalbiscuit) February 14, 2014

Fun Creators denied it, saying it was 'photoshopped'.

Please don't play photoshop games until we sort out the problem. Do you want us to create an email sent by you to anyone?

Maker Studio VP David Sievers confirmed the takedown came from Fun Creators.

I'm a VP at Maker Studios. I can confirm that 's video takedown request came from .

Fun Creators sent Total Biscuit a final message warning him to delete everything on Twitter and his entire YouTube channel or their lawyers would be come down on him.  And don't bother retweeting the email, because we'll claim it was faked.

So has given us a last warning, this time in a consistent font

Fun Creators and Total Biscuit have been going at it,  It's degenerated into farce because everyone is piling on Fun Creators they as they continue to play the victim.

We wonder why TB is doing this, it's really strange. However, we will stop talking about this incident. It's like trolling us to nowhere.

At this time, top Steam Tags on Guise of the Wolf other than the non-scandal 'Buggy', 'Awful', 'False Advertising', 'shovelware', and 'Horrbile', are 'dishonest developer', 'Devs Censor Criticism', 'False DMCA', 'Liars', and 'Censorship'.


The Takeaway

Of course, this is not the first time Total Biscuit has been involved in such a controversy, since his brutal bad reviews are, well, brutal, and he's so high profile on YouTube. In that case the devs eventually backed down and groveled.

The lessons here should be fairly obvious, and I realize that, so please don't feel insulted as I reiterate them. So what do you do when someone so high profile savages your game?

- Responding to a bad review just validates it unless you have an extremely clever take on it.

- Filing a takedown on a bad review will get rid of the review (since YouTube has no standards) but will mobilize the internet against you. Total Biscuit has 1.5M subscribers. Do you think you can type faster than them?

- A threat to pull out the lawyers on a bad review is hollow unless you're a multbillion dollar company and counting on your money to back up an unreasonable takedown. If you had effective lawyers you'd have already mobilized them.

- Have you considered embracing the badness? Perhaps you can become a cult classic for how bad you are, like Road to Hell: Retribution.

But generally, be brutally honest with yourself. Unless you seriously think your brilliant, perfectly designed, perfectly impemented game has been horribly wronged and you're prepared to defend it forever, from everyone on the internet, just lay low. Perhaps consider not releasing it until it's in decent shape.

If you really think you are being wronged and are not just trying to quash legitimate criticism, assuming you have that level of self-awareness, then read this excellent post at Popehat.


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Zachary Strebeck
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Amazing that they didn't learn from the original Total Biscuit incident, since it was pretty highly publicized at the time. Using these takedown notices in bad faith is not a good practice, that's for sure, both legally and in the public eye.