For indie game developers, being voted onto Steam via Greenlight is a huge boost — not only because the game is on Steam, but because players helped put it there by saying, “This is a game I want to play.” So, it’s no surprise that indie devs and publishers will try to stand out.
Of course, there’s standing out and then there’s turning your project into a target for angry gamers on the internet.
Reverb Publishing did just that today when the company sent out a press release saying it would donate $5,000 to the Humane Society to help shelter cats if Handyman Studios‘ game Edge of Space garnered Steam Greenlight approval by October 15th. In all honesty, this sounds pretty okay.. Until you get to the part of the release that states:
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. 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.
According to Handyman’s Jake Crane, the entire thing was a joke on the part of Reverb designed to play off the dark humor of the game.
Now… I’m all for saving kitties — especially since we need them to power the internet — and I have a pretty dark sense of humor. But, even I did a double-take at that.
Reverb followed up Handyman’s comments on the subject with an official response stating that the company had already decided to make a donation to the Humane Society of $5,000 before the promotion was approved and the release was only meant to grab attention. The response was closed with the following statement:
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.
Reverb’s vice president of business development Doug Kennedy also posted the following response on the Edge of Space Greenlight page:
I challenge anyone else on this board to make a donation to the Humane Society, I committed $5000, and we requested a vote of YES for the game. If anyone did their homework you would know we have made a variety of donations to animal organizations. if you don’t want to vote for the game I fully respect that, if times are tough and money us tight a “yes” vote would be greatly appreciated, provided the company continues to do well, we will continue to fund and support a number of animal organizations, either way its a win – win for the kitties. (Lastly, does anyone really think that that we were not going to make the $5000 donation, come on folks, seriously? I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, I remember when it was fun, lighten up a bit and appreciate the fact that a great organization like the Humane Society is getting a ton of attention and a nice contribution).
I’m glad that Reverb is donating to the Humane Society regardless of the outcome, but I’m a bit amazed that they didn’t see this kind of reaction coming.