A marketing stunt for a game on Greenlight has backfired terribly.
Edge of Space is a 2D, open-world sandbox game with a focus on resource collection, building and survival. It's been described as "Terraria with mechs." That sounds like a dead cert for Greenlight success to me. Unfortunately, the game's publisher, Reverb, may have shot itself in the foot with a stunt designed to net the title more votes.
The publisher offered to donate $5000 to the Humane Society to rescue homeless kittens if the game got approved on Greenlight by the 15th of October. While that may or may not be against Valve's terms of service, banking on the internet's love for all things feline is rarely a bad idea. What didn't sit well with gamers, however, was the way Reverb phrased the promotion.
"If the game doesn't get approval, that money will disappear, like a puff of smoke in the uncaring wind, leaving poor kitties to survive in the harsh elements, be placed in harm's way and possibly scheduled for euthanasia," read a message from the publisher. "The challenge is out there, and for a simple 'yes' vote on Steam's Greenlight consumers can actively take a role in saving the lives of kitties."
Despite the internet's fondness for dark humor, it was judged that Reverb had apparently crossed a line. Edge of Space's Greenlight page was flooded with negative comments, some expressing outrage that a company would "blackmail" users, others condemning the publisher for making jokes about animal cruelty. Some threatened to change their votes. The sad thing is, Reverb is only acting as the game's publisher. It's developer, Handyman, has nothing to do with the promotion.
Reverb has since apologized for the joke.
"This was meant in fun, if anything, Reverb's intent was to add a bonus; if we can make it to the top 10 by the 15th, we will help out a worthy cause," it told Eurogamer. "Understand that there is some dark humor in the game and they wanted to play off of that. We love cats! That's why we have them in our game to begin with!"
"Even before the promotion was approved Reverb had decided to make a donation of $5,000 to the Humane Society today, this was just a fun way of drumming up some attention for the game. The release was meant to grab attention and call readers to action, but we regret if we made anyone uncomfortable or angry with its content. Millions of stray cats enter shelters each year, with the yearly cost of humane shelters resting in the billions. Our wording may have been muddled, but our intentions are good."