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Last week, Robot Entertainment found itself in a bit of hot water regarding their attitudes toward so-called “toxic” players in their upcoming MOBA-not-a-MOBA Orcs Must Die! Unchained. In an interview with Polygon, designer Jerome K. Jones issued the following cringeworthy statements:




“There’s probably something good about the toxic players showing up and sticking with your game. The good thing is probably that it’s a good game. It’s holding their interest, it’s keeping them around. It’s making them passionate enough to give a damn.”

“They’re not going to go away. And honestly, I don’t think you want them to. You need those people there. They’re driving the game. They’re giving it longevity. They’re giving it passion. And when they find something about your game that they love, they defend it to the death. Those are the same people that can go to bat for you.”

In response to massive outcry against those statements, Robot Entertainment was forced to issue a response on their website that read, in part:

“Earlier today a headline suggested that Robot Entertainment welcomes toxic players in Orcs Must Die! Unchained. In the full interview, we acknowledged that toxic players are an unfortunate facet of multiplayer gaming. We made clear that we want to hear from all players no matter how passionate they may be. Passionate but not toxic… if a person chooses to restrict or impede upon the gameplay and community experience with inappropriate behavior, then we will ensure they are disciplined and, if needed, banned.”

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Everyone deserves a second chance, I suppose, but the slightest hint that toxic behavior would, in any way, be tolerated in the first place raises eyebrows. Whether they want to call the game a MOBA or not, the designers of OMDU should know what a bane toxic behavior is and how light-years apart it is from simply “passionate” play.

And we’re not just talking about the basic “lrn 2 play u f****** noob stop feeding omg” behavior that we’ve all had to put up with in a MOBA, or other games. Toxic behavior goes well beyond that, including racist, sexist, and worse comments. Even remotely hinting that it’s welcome, in any fashion, is either ignorant of the issues it causes or disturbing in Robot’s acceptance of it.

The only possible explanation I can think of other than this is that Jones was trying to be inclusive and “invite” all stripes of players to the game, even the passionate/toxic ones. While that makes sense on paper – you want to try and draw as many people as possible to your product, after all – the problem is that in doing so, they drive away thousands of other players who would want to play the game but don’t want to have to deal with that kind of abuse or potential abuse.

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I’m not fully satisfied by the response, either. “A headline suggested” all this? Yes, “a headline,” along with the actual words spoken by your actual employee. Don’t try and push this one someone else. You messed up.

What’s needed now is a full and verbose description of exactly what Robot Entertainment’s policies are and how they will be enforced. Whether there’s a strikes program, temporary-to-permanent bans, or a rigid zero-tolerance policy, it needs to be spelled out precisely and exactly. Cute headlines and pictures (“Toxic Players Will Be Incinerated And Gibletized”) aren’t going to cut it any more.

Also, your game is a MOBA, it might be OMD with MOBA elements, but it’s a broadening genre and you are a part of it. Accept that reality, embrace it and maybe it’ll help with your credibility.

By Jason Winter

26 Readers Commented

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  1. Merkadis on July 6, 2014

    Bunch of crybabies cried about Robot Entertainment’s statement so they had to “correct” it so that crybabies can stop crying rivers and oceans about it. xD
    Thanks, had a good laugh.

  2. Rareloot on July 3, 2014

    The problem is the word “toxicity” is very ambiguous. What some people find toxic, other people may just consider normal competitive banter. One time I was playing a game of League of Legends, and 3 people came to kill me. Surprisingly, I was able to kill all three of them by myself and escape with like 20 HP remaining. I typed “EZ” into the chat shortly afterwards and the other players got super upset about it, telling me to “STFU” or “you’re playing an easy champion GTFO”, and reported me after the game.

    I don’t feel my “EZ” warranted that amount of backlash, but it goes back to my original point of people’s different opinions about what’s toxic and what isn’t. I think a lot of people are overly-sensitive, and get “offended” just because they feel like if they can say they were offended by someone, they will look like an innocent victim and people will take their side. It’s the same reason women will provoke men behind closed doors, but when a man finally hits them, they go out to the public and cry for help like they’re innocent little angels. That’s all you hear about in 2014. Offended this, offended that. I do think telling people you wish their Moms die of cancer and things like that probably cross the line but when you say that typing “GG no re” is highly offensive, you’re just being anal.

  3. Omega on July 2, 2014

    Honestly are all players not toxic? At least once.As long as I can mute and block I’m fine.

    And Jason Winter, Sir we don’t need stuff like MOBAs A-RPGs and Rouge-Likes to have all-encompassing definition. As a reviewer and critic such miss-mash outlook is a dis-service to the consumer. Shame on you!

    Truth is it’s a 3rd person Tower/Anti-Tower Defense game, deal with it.

  4. Unmarked on July 1, 2014

    Am I the only one whos getting tired of the continued use of the term Toxic.

    Its really annoying.

  5. Tillus on July 1, 2014

    Ty for adding the vote system 🙂

  6. Trenix on July 1, 2014

    Toxic players are the product of free to play games. People don’t act as stupid when the game they purchased or pay a subscription for, is at jeopardy. By the looks of it, the developer doesn’t sound very bright and I hope his remarks will stir up a bad community in his game. What I’ve noticed with a free to play game, you need to allow players to turn off chat if they want to. While League of Legends was a team orientated game, I did way better keeping my chat off.

    • zerozer on July 1, 2014

      Your arguments are stupid. There were tons of people who spent tons of money on LOL and still got banned, 5-10 times more money than the cost of any retail game. Do you know how many pro players have been banned who obviously spent a lot of money in LOL? Are you saying that all of them were freeloaders? What kind of stupid logic you have there, son? /facepalm

      • Xaelse on July 1, 2014

        Lol, have you heard of World of Warcraft?

    • Curst on July 1, 2014

      You’re wrong about F2P games. Game cost has nothing to do with player behavior. Have you ever played CoD? Yeah… Toxic players are a product of competitive games with randomly generated teams, that are attractive to the younger (and/or immature) audience. Even more so they are a product of internet’s atmosphere of endless possibilities with zero repercussions.

    • Razer on July 1, 2014

      I still contend that it’s the result of players being forced to stay in a 30-50 minute steamroll, and not being allowed to leave matches without facing severe punishment. Until something is done about that, games like LoL and Dota will continue to be breeding grounds for the most toxic people on the internet.

  7. Bleh! on July 1, 2014

    Amazing!
    I just do not play anymore mobas like Lol, Dota 2 or Smite, it is impossible to play a game without a bad player (who complains, screams, qq all the time).

    GG Robot Entertainment’s 😀

  8. Wakalaka on June 30, 2014

    Since when the hell did MMORPGs become cheap daycare? Who gives a damn if someone’s feelings are hurt. It’s online, on a goddamn game.

    • node357 on July 1, 2014

      good example of the “toxic” attitude, and rational, emotionally healthy people are the ones that care about how harmful it can be.

      • Wakalaka on July 1, 2014

        Games have an ignore feature for a reason you know.

        • slam256 on July 8, 2014

          It is time that they start to learn how to behave in life, otherwise life will be long and miserable for them.

  9. fromhelll on June 30, 2014

    I get what the devs were trying to say, but still, to hint that it’s OK to be toxic is pretty stupid. MOBA or not that kind of behavior can hurt the game, if the game gets a bad reputation so early on it can find be pretty hard for the game to build a solid player base and be successful. You know how the internet community is, most people will judge things without even bothering to try them.

    Down-vote me, i wanna be bottom comment XD

    • Mystika on June 30, 2014

      I’m of the opinion that you should be given the tools necessary to stop toxic players (muting, reporting etc.) and it’s up to you to use those tools, rather than the devs babysit you and restrict potentially helpful features because a number of players are toxic.

  10. spunkify Author on June 30, 2014

    Hey guys! You may notice you can now upvote or downvote comments! Use this to push the best comments to the top and the trolls to the bottom!

    • Mr. NO on June 30, 2014

      NO me no speak americano.

    • hey on June 30, 2014

      Hey , heroes and generals are coming to steam !!!

    • cryptera on June 30, 2014

      awesome! brilliant feature implementation.

    • Razer on July 1, 2014

      You mean use this to push the comments that validate your preconceived notions to the top and everyone you disagree with to the bottom. These voting systems only turn discussions into circlejerk fests.

      • Flevalt on July 1, 2014

        What Razer said.

        These upvote features serve nothing but to promote the remarks which are perceived as most badass/smartass and the majority views. Quality of comments plays no role in these voting systems, it’s the same reason nobody takes Reddit seriously.

        But it’s not like comments to articles on MMOBomb ever had any quality to begin with so nothing of value was lost.

        • fdsfds on July 1, 2014

          the only comments that will get up voted are those ridiculous “mounted” comments, talk about spamming up this site.

    • Trenix on July 1, 2014

      Very good addition.

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