TotalBiscuit, Wild Games Studios and the Streisand Effect

Not long ago, a TotalBiscuit video review of Day One: Garry’s Incident was taken down by the game’s developer Wild Game Studios. After TotalBiscuit made a video calling attention to the issue and some public backlash, the developers rescinded their take down claim and now TotalBiscuit’s video is now back online for public viewing. This episode is another example of the Streisand Effect and how trying to censor criticism can backfire on someone.

There are many lessons that any aspiring game developer should learn from. These lessons can range from how abuse of copyright law is bad or how easy it is spot if you are trying to buy positive review of your game, but one of the biggest lessons is that trying to censor criticism can only lead to more notoriety.

If Wild Game Studios had just left TotalBiscuit’s review alone,   there wouldn’t have been much to talk about as people would have simply said that the game sucked and would have moved on. Even though TotalBiscuit’s video might have hurt sales a little bit, people would have not cared about Day One when Wild Games decided to release another game. But now the studio has a lot of credibility with the public and will have a much harder time generating goodwill and publicity for their future projects, as the public will remember them as being the studio that tried to take down a review critical of their work.

Also, by trying to censor criticism, the company is under a lot more scrutiny. For example people on Reddit looked at the Metacritic page of Day One and found that many of the positive reviews were written similar to each either and were written by recently-created accounts. This could have meant two things: that either the studio bought reviews, or that they have written the review themselves. This is bad, because Wild Games Studios looks even more suspicious of doing underhanded tactics. If they hadn’t tried to take down TotalBiscuit’s review, then people on Reddit might not have been looking at the Metacritic page for Day One as closely as they did.

For the future, this means that whenever Wild Games Studios releases a game in the future, they will have a lot of baggage that will probably be mentioned whenever someone writes an article about them.

Also, the apology sent out by Stephane, the CEO of Wild Games, didn’t help matters for the company, as the reason they gave for taking down TotalBiscuit’s video had to do with TB monetizing the video. But the thing is that there were plenty of other videos that had footage of Day One, and they were allowed to stay online even with ads on the video. So it looked like TotalBiscuit’s video was singled out because his had the most views and was the most critical. Also, it was shown by TotalBiscuit that he received a copy free from the studio, and TotalBiscuit had asked for a copy with the purpose of making a video. Given the evidence shown by TotalBiscuit, it clearly proves that Stephane is lying. If Stephane didn’t want TotalBiscuit to monetize the video, he should have said so when he sent over the review copy, or even could have asked TotalBiscuit to disable ads on the video before issuing a takedown notice. By lying to the public, the developers ruined even more goodwill they might have had. If they had come out and just said that they took down the review because it was critical and apologized, it could have made right some of the wrongs they did. But, now that they are shown to be lying, it will make it that much harder to be trusted by the public.

So the lesson that can learned from this is that even if someone is reviewing your work negatively, it is much better to just take the criticism than to try to delete or hide it. The original WTF video by TotalBiscuit has less than 500K views, while the video TotalBiscuit made about having the video taken down has close to 3 million views.  So by trying to censor,  it will only get you bad publicity and lead to a lot of unnecessary scrutiny. So even one incident of censorship can lead to the public looking into every single thing that you did and possibly publicize some of your dirty laundry.

What is your opinion on the incident between TotalBiscuit and Wild Games Studios? Leave your answer in the comments below.