Ion Fury developer Voidpoint has decided not to remove a controversial slur from their game.
This strange story starts about a week ago when some Voidpoint staffers made homophobic and transphobic comments on the company’s Discord channel. Shortly thereafter, users found similar controversial content in Ion Fury itself. For instance, an area of the game accessible via a no clip cheat contained the word “fagbag,” while another area in the game contained facewash products labeled “ogay.”
Not long after the controversy surfaced, developer Voidpoint promised to not only remove the content via a patch but to donate money to The Trevor Project: a non-profit organization designed to prevent suicide among members of the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, Voidpoint stated that all members of their staff will undergo mandatory sensitivity training.
That seemed to be just about the end of the story until Voidpoint shocked everyone recently by stating that they have changed their mind and will no longer remove the controversial content from the game.
“We will absolutely NOT be censoring Ion Fury or any of our other games, now or in the future, including but not limited to by removing gags such as gaming’s most controversial facial wash,” reads a joint statement from Voidpoint and publisher 3D Realms. “We do not support censorship of creative works of any kind and regret our initial decision to alter a sprite in the game instead of trusting our instincts. 3D Realms and Voidpoint stand together on this matter.”
What happened? There’s some debate regarding the specifics of this decision, but it certainly seems like the change of heart was influenced by a series of review bombs on Steam in which users criticized the developers for bowing to the pressure of those who wanted them to remove the game’s controversial content. The studio has since stated that they have removed the word “fagbag” from the game as it apparently was inserted by a developer from a non-English speaking country who didn’t understand what it meant. However, they have no intentions of removing the “ogay” joke.
Interestingly, Ion Fury has been experiencing alternating review bombs from those who wish for the joke to stay in and those who want it gone. However, it appears the outcry from those who want the joke to stay has been much louder. Valve has previously stated that they intend to combat such review bombs in certain situations, but it doesn’t seem that the initial outcry over the decision to “censor” the joke triggered that policy.
Ion Fury previously drew attention for its old-school ’90s shooter gameplay and a lawsuit from Iron Maiden representatives over the game’s original name (Ion Maiden). Now, though, it seems that the game’s legacy may be defined by a throwaway joke best left in the era of overly-edgy shooters that the game emulates.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.
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