If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Steam pulls Digital Homicide games following fan lawsuit

Indie studio alleged harassment in $18m lawsuit against Steam users, now considering legal action against Valve for its response

Digital Homicide Studios has pledged to file a lawsuit against Valve after its games were removed from Steam, a move taken after the company filed a different suit against 100 of Steam's users.

In a statement sent to Polygon, Valve explained that it, "has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam." It was a direct response to a lawsuit Digital Homicide filed against 100 Steam users that had formed - by its own estimation - a "hate and harassment group" targeting the company, its products, and other consumers with a legitimate interest in its games.

According to a legal document obtained by Kotaku, Digital Homicide has claimed that members of the group were involved in "continual and repeated attacks" on the company, across a period of between 1 and 21 months per member, and spanning between 10 and 2,000 Steam community posts per member. The document states that, in total, the "Digital Homicides Poop Games" group generated 20,000 posts, which the company believes constitutes, "repeated anonymous harassment." The group describes itself as, "a dedicated consumer-advocacy group and censorship safe haven."

The lawsuit is asking for $18 million in damages from the 100 Steam users based on a list of charges that includes stalking, harassment and criminal impersonation. This appears to be at the root of Valve's decision to remove Digital Homicide's games from Steam; a move that the company's founder, James Romine, has since condemned in a post - titled "Seeking Legal Representation" - on its official website.

"By removing us they have taken the stance that users have the right to harass me, tell me I should kill myself, and insult my family. If I try to defend myself against said actions then I lose my family's income"

Romine has accused Valve of failing to respond to, "numerous reports and...multiple emails in regards to individuals making personal attacks, harassment, and more on not only us but on other Steam customers who were actually interested in our products... The lawsuit recently filed is solely in regards to individuals where no resolution was able to be obtained from Steam to provide a safe environment for us to conduct business."

The post highlights instances in which threats - including death threats - were made against both Romine and Digital Homicide's employees, and insults were levelled at Romine's wife and children.

Romine continued: "By removing us they have taken the stance that users have the right to harass me, tell me I should kill myself, and insult my family. If I try to defend myself against said actions then I lose my family's income.

"If it wasn't for two years of experience of dealing with Steam on a regular basis, this disgusting stance would seem shocking to me. The only thing that prevented me seeking legal counsel for a long list of breach of contracts, interference with business, and antitrust issues was the fear of losing my family's income. Since that has been taken away I am seeking legal representation."

This isn't the first occasion that Digital Homicide has pursued legal action against what it perceived to be a threat. Earlier this year, it filed a $10 million lawsuit against the critic Jim Sterling for, "assault, libel and slander."

However, this isn't the first time that Valve has been accused of failing to properly moderate Steam's community. Indeed, our own Rob Fahey concluded "I don't think Valve cares" when he examined the toxic atmosphere on the platform in May this year.

"The problem is this; Steam is almost entirely unmoderated, and Valve makes pretty much zero effort to reign in any behaviour on its platform that isn't outright illegal. As a consequence, it's open season for the worst behaviours and tactics of the Internet's reactionary malcontents - the weapon of choice being brigading, whereby huge numbers of users from one of the Internet's cesspits are sent to downvote, post terrible reviews or simply fill content pages with bile."

Topics in this article

Follow topics and we'll email you when we publish something new about them.  Manage your notification settings.

Matthew Handrahan avatar

Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.