On Hatred, and Steam’s Sudden Interest in Quality Control

Hatred itself is so transparent in its intent that I’m barely interested in it as an actual videogame. That said, the response to it is fascinating for a number of reasons. At some point, I intend to examine the wacky events revolving around Hatred in a Jimquisition, but since my episodes are locked down with end-of-year content right now, I figured I’d toss something up in the meantime. This is a video discussing Valve’s recent decision to refuse Hatred a place on Steam Greenlight, something that has gaming’s loyalest champions up in arms. Personally, I find it interesting that this is the game Valve’s almost exclusively taking a stand on, when there are titles I find far more offensive – even if my offense is less conventional than the ol’ aversion to violent content.

Yes, Hatred is infantile in its attempts to be shocking, and I ultimately care little whether it sells or not. It’s not Air Control though, and that was on Steam for months.

P-Unit
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P-Unit

Valve put the game back on Steam
The following is the email sent by Gabe Newell
“Hi, Jaroslaw,
Yesterday I heard that we were taking Hatred down from Greenlight. Since I wasn’t up to speed, I asked around internally to find out why we had done that. It turns out that it wasn’t a good decision, and we’ll be putting Hatred back up. My apologies to you and your team. Steam is about creating tools for content creators and customers.
Good luck with your game
Gabe”
Still worrying they can just pull games at their own whims and fancies

Zoinker
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Zoinker

What do you know! They even focus test their takedowns!

Polar
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Polar

Hey Jim Sterling. I’m a fan of your stuff. I just watched your latest squirty play of ‘NATIONAL ZOMBIE PARK’ and now I’m curious on how to get into ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ That and I think it would sound funny to watch/read you play it with your Friends. I had a brief look at ‘Dungeons and Dragons Online’ and found the Artificer class pretty interesting.
Thanks for reading this far.

ZippyDSMlee
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And its back on steam.

Cecil Hoshino
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Cecil Hoshino
Here’s my problem with this whole issue. What Jim said is all well and good, yes, it’s a bit odd that NOW of all times Valve is standing up saying “This shit won’t fly” when Slaughtering Grounds, Air Control, and Guise of the Wolf all got a pass, despite being deliberate cash grabs with conartists and idiots running them. By comparison, Hatred is at least much more polished and playable, so if the shock value alone is the pull, that’s Valve being hypocritical or whatever. But, see, it’s not that simple. If Hatred were just in it to shock our… Read more »
Korolev
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Korolev
This game looks like a perfect view into how a 13-year old loser views the world – “I’m so edgy and dark and no one understands me!”. It’s patently juvenile. I agree with you Jim – why this game? Plenty of other very violent video games are sold on Steam, some not much different to this game. But I know the reason why – it was taken off as a pre-emptive measure. The violence isn’t the problem, the publicity surrounding it, and the tone of the trailers was the problem. Had no one drawn attention to this game in the… Read more »
Brian Seiler
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Brian Seiler
Let me make one thing clear before I criticize Valve for anything – I don’t like Hatred and I would prefer that it didn’t exist. All possible details about the developers aside, the simple fact of the matter is that under the most charitable of all possible interpretations, they’re taking a massive risk on behalf of an entire industry without stopping to consider whether it’s a risk anybody ever wanted or needed to take. They’re playing with the public reputation of video games in general, and, worst of all, they’re doing it poorly, with all of their marketing material so… Read more »
Jim
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Jim

Dear Jim,

Not certain that this is the correct place, yet certain it is the correct season, I want to send you something for Christmas. Sadly, kinda pov right now, so all I could find was this *hug*

Merry Thingamy,
Jim

Siphillis
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Siphillis
There’s some stuff that you might wanna mention about Hatred’s devs. On Destructive Creation’s website, Jakub Stychno, the gameplay designer, is seen wearing a shirt that depicts a contoversial anti-communist military group. This group (Żołnierze wyklęci), is a symbol of polish nationalism. The CEO of Destructive Creations, Jarosław Zieliński, is connected to the Polish Defense League by way of Facebook. Polish Defense League is pretty much a white supremacist group, pretty similar to the Australian Defense League. Cyprian Listowski is Destructive Creation’s level designer, and a tattoo artist. His designs include an adaptation of The Black Sun, a symbol used… Read more »
Crunty
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Crunty

Sure it’s Valve’s prerogative not to sell Hatred but by not pruning out the broken, crap games offensively sold for $20 a pop they’re alienating more of the community than those saved by not selling one game.

ZippyDSMlee
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I care by not caring about what the content is boring to me(GTA,COD,ect) ,is short on content or how bad the mechanics are. This looks like a dumb version of Hunter:The reckoning 0-o

ZippyDSMlee
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Darnit……I care by not caring about what the content is unless it’s boring to me(GTA,COD,ect) ….I need harder proof reading ><

Rinddon
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Rinddon

I actually had a bit of discussion of this on the YouTube comments. But basically there’s no way air control could end up on fox news and then having them demanding Valve’s head for it. (anti games people really have no idea where to point their guns)
I can’t really get to mad at valve for deciding it’s not worth the hassle and putting their foot down early on. Even if there are games arguably more worthy of the almighty banhammer.

Sorta Semipro
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I did a talk up on this, this morning, on my own channel. We have some what the same opinions in several points that you put forward. I’m a little more leaning towards pointing a finger at where the actual impetus for Valve’s decision came from, but largely I feel there is a great question about what kind of games Valve would publish as Valve…given whats on Steam, if they won’t publish Hatred through Greenlight. And while I agree its not censorship….denying a small indy dev house that has put more effort into their random murder simulator than half the… Read more »
Jenny8675309
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Jenny8675309

You bring up a larger point which is this: Should marketplaces like Steam, iTunes, Play Store, etc. wield so much power that if they give a thumbs down to a game, regardless of the game’s merits, it seriously affects the developer’s chances for reaching their target audience? To me, that is more serious issue than the game itself.

Well...
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Well...

It’s not technically censorship in that ‘government control’ way, but when corporations that big deny someone market access, it has just about the same effect.

Remember the shitstorm that happened when a lot of major theatres pulled ‘The Interview’ from their screens? Not government censorship, not censorship by Sony, but still got a lot of bad press anyway,

Let them publish it. If they’re that bad, they’ll condemn themselves with their own words, and you can laugh or facepalm at them on other sites.

Jenny8675309
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Jenny8675309
I can sympathize with Valve in that Steam is their store and they should be able to decide what gets sold there. If folks don’t like it, there are plenty of other places to digitally download games. Censorship would be to blanket suppress content that is found objectionable and there is plenty of more objectionable content on Steam already (Harvester, Postal, etc.) For me, what separates Hatred from other similar games, is that there is a eerie seriousness to the subject matter that I found unsettling. It makes you wonder what the developers motives and views are and what they… Read more »
Snowskeeper
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Snowskeeper

I think there’s a difference between selling this and Air Control. Air Control was just a shitty game; this is an incredibly, blatantly offensive game, and however you feel about freedom of speech, Valve isn’t obligated to host something this horrible if they don’t want to.

(I’m sorry; I couldn’t refrain from calling a “shoot massive amounts of innocent people” game ‘horrible.’)

I believe they should have dealt with Air Control as well, but while the issues are perhaps comparable, they aren’t identical.

Craig
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Craig "The Raccoon "

Hope my game gets greenlit , i think ill make a game where you roll logs around the forest, find a log and just roll it around if you do it 10 hours you get a achievement log roller and a trading card,,, Needs a catch though you do it as a “Zombie Ninja” I can call it Zombie Ninja log roller…… Yeah !!! charge $15.00 bucks and move to Tahiti .
Winner !!!!

Collette
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Collette
On this, basically, I understand why they did and they’d done stuff like this before. Hell, even in the FAQ for Greenlight there’s a rule against “offensive material”, so it totally makes sense to me. It’s just more notable this time before it’s more a “high profile” game. I’m not really sure if I’d personally pull it if I was in that situation, though. At first I thought Jim was missing the point for a second, but I think it’s more like he doesn’t care and he’d just rather talk about Steam having no quality control, which is all fine… Read more »
Nobody's Fanboy
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Nobody's Fanboy
Food for thought, Jim: Looks like Valve isn’t been so much concerned with quality of product, as it is subject matter, the ‘ok, this is going too far even for us’…and they’ve now got a mother of a mess on their hands because more than just you are going to be asking the same ‘So you’re saying you’d put your name on Air Control?’ question. Part of me does wonder if it would’ve been allowed to go up if ‘the internets’ didn’t pick that one specifically to get up in arms about. No matter what though, hopefully this little event… Read more »
KB
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KB
I would actually watch the YouTube playlist of his reviews of all the awful games Jim mentions in the video. Because yes, I do want to to go watch some of the awfulness I glimpsed. (I have to wonder how many of those are still on Steam?!) This only just happened, but I’m waiting for journalists to start pondering Hatred next to the legal action/hearings on videogame violence years ago. I think any company thinking about selling Hatred has to immediately answer “do I really want to be asked to justify this game the next time we have a shooting… Read more »
Greg
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Greg
Valve’s also taken a stand on visual novels, demanding that the creators cut out what they think is excessive sexuality (Loren the Amazon Princess, Cho Dengeki Stryker, If My Heart Had Wings, although that might have been a publisher decision, and I think a few others). I think it’s silly and unfortunate (although Loren was frankly improved by a little restraint), but I recognize it as their right, just like my local bookstore and local video rental (yes, I still have a local video rental) don’t choose to carry pornography. Like Jim, though, I think it suggests some unfortunate priorities.… Read more »
Billy
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Billy

I can’t speak for the other games, but Winter Wolves dev posted on the Steam forums that Valve did not require order Loren the Amazon Princess be censored. Valve required that the game be rated, and the dev decided that self-censorship was preferable to the expense of getting that rating.

BAH!
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BAH!
I’m with Jim in his “not being offended by Hatred as much as other, clearly broken, scam-job games,” but also: Hatred doesn’t offend me nearly as much as the way the creators have presented and “defended” it does. Seriously, has anyone else read their press releases and interviews? It’s insulting. And in the end, it is absolutely Valve’s prerogative to choose which games to host and which to reject, but they’ll look pretty bad with this kind exceedingly selective action- especially if they can’t come up with a better reason. I said it about Hatred’s devs, and I’l say it… Read more »
Snowskeeper
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Snowskeeper

Could you post some links to the press statements you’re talking about? Only ones I can find are responses to the fact that he liked an anti-Islam Polish group.

BAH!
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BAH!

http://www.polygon.com/2014/10/17/6994921/hatred-the-polygon-interview

I didn’t read through the whole, thing, but there is a quote somewhere (perhaps not here) where he says he’s making a game precisely to go against the “politically-correct, colorful, [etc]” trend currently dominating gaming. It’s at that point you know they’re full of shit.

Literally everything the devs have said about the game is so stupid and immature, it’s mentally painful.

eL
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eL

Since I’m presently working I haven’t had an opportunity to do any real research on this, so I’m hoping someone can enlighten to me how this is any different than Just Cause. It’s my understanding that just cause is a game entirely involved with overturning governments, a practice usually called terrorism, is the problem the murder of innocents – Kratos does this all the time – or is it the murder of policemen – a common sandbox experience?

The Spearman
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The Spearman

This game takes place in ‘murica, and the guy’s killing ‘murican civilians who can’t defend themselves because our government imposes really unjust gun control laws.

The main character also seems to be of the loner Goth type. It’s only right to try to overthrow the US government if you belong to one of the more mainstream sects of Christianity and are part of a survivalist militia.

Janichsan
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Janichsan
Well, Just Cause is a game about overturning an oppressive dictator as some kind of secret agent. Sure, it’s semantics and very dependent on the point of view whether someone who overturns a government is a terrorist or a freedom fighter, but I think that you as – probably – citizen of a democratic western country would agree that overturning a dictator is a.… just cause, wouldn’t you? (Also, keep in mind that the Just Cause games are deliberately very cheesy and over the top.) Killing innocent civilians is certainly possible, as in many other games, but it’s neither required, nor desired,… Read more »
eL
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eL
Jan it is most certainly semantics, semantics that should have been extended to the “innocent civilians”. As an end-user I can just as easily rationalize the acts of the player character as vigilante justice can I not? I can decide of my own volition that the innocent civilians are murders, rapists and thieves all of who need to be put down or I can pretend the cops are corrupt Los Angeles policemen known for racial profiling. I don’t really understand why context matters, unless it’s just a replacement for justification? If you need some context I seem to recall the… Read more »
Grace_Omega
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I get the feeling it was the developer’s obvious courting of controversy that made Valve drop Hatred- they didn’t want their names associated with a manufactured controversy.

I agree with Jim though, Valve needs better quality control.

Darth Hybris
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Darth Hybris

Well, that was pretty shallow, but I guess it was meant to be just a teaser for a future episode anyway…

This is actually the first time I’ve heard of Hatred though. How come it is so violent that it can garner controversy in a world with GTAs, and Spunkle-gargle-wee-wee-shooters, and Mortal Kombat, and stuff?!
Someone care to enlighten me?

Anton
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Anton

Hatred is a standout because it is specifically about a crazed gunman going after civilians and cops, for the sake of murdering civilians and cops, and nothing else. While you may argue that almost any other violent video game has “a point” (though I’m not sure how much water that argument actually holds), Hatred is really just a mass murder simulator.

Darth Hybris
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Darth Hybris

You seem to have perfectly described Hotline Miami to me… I guess it has a pass because it is in pixelart… But it still looks pretty graphic to me. And I don’t know about it having a “point”… I always thought that it PRETENDED to have a story more than actually having one. Yes it is stylized, but its hardly Pulp Fiction…

Anton
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Anton

Well, at least in Hotline Miami you’re shooting up drug dealers and criminals, which sort of falls under the “justified violence” clause – you don’t feel bad because they were bad guys anyway. Kind of how no one ever feels bad shooting Nazis in WW2 shooters and Russians in modern ones.

But really, when you get down to the essence of the game, you’re right – it’s pretty damn close.

yusupov
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yusupov

no, not really at all.

L0cke89
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L0cke89
Hotline Miami made that point that you just kill people for the enjoyment of killing people. The whole story about gangs is just a placeholder to make you feel like doing something good. But is killing people ever good, even in the name of a cause? Hotline Miami makes you question your motivation to play those games and says, yeah, it okay to just play a game for the violence and enjoyment of killing fake people in brutal ways. It’s the same way people enjoy outlandish brutal death scenes in movies. Hatred is a difficult case, as not much is… Read more »
Darth Hybris
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Darth Hybris

Ohh, I didn’t realized that the actual information was in the video… And now I look pretty dumb.
Well, have some laughs at me to cheer up your day! 🙂

Anton
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Anton
I’m conflicted between my support for “free expression” and my extreme distaste for the cheap way Hatred tries to capitalize on a shocking subject. On the one hand, I can’t oppose the existence of this game if I support the existence of GTA. Because, sensationalist context aside, what shocking act can you commit in Hatred that you couldn’t do in a GTA game? Does GTA get a pass because it’s “satire”, or because it’s been around long enough to become part of our established culture? As someone who’s been supporting and playing violent shooters for years (though I actually don’t… Read more »
Trooper924
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Trooper924

I agree with you on Hatred. Sure, you can run around killing cops and civilians in GTA, but at least that’s not all you can do. There’s side-missions and mini-games to do as well as an actual story, which as far as I can tell, Hatred doesn’t have, beyond “suicidal mass murderer kills people”. And look at those kill animations! Clearly, the developers of Hatred designed the game to be as shocking as they possibly could. To make as many people’s monocles pop off as they could. Big freakin’ deal in my opinion.

yusupov
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yusupov
you can go on a killing spree in GTA, but its a completely different context. it doesnt revel in the violence or give you finishers to enact on screaming women, etc. its sort of like saying, idk, the english patient & erotic novels are similar bc theres fucking in both of them. this game revels in the violence, there is a kind of prurience that was shocking even to me. so i think its an understandable stance. im american as well so im probably particularly sensitive to the content matter also. at the same time, if i was 15 in… Read more »
Crunty
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Crunty

Yusupov your English Patient vs. erotica argument is perfect. GTA is more about crime than violence specifically I think, Hatred seems to me to be a moneygrab – and a very cynical one.

that guy over there
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that guy over there
it may be just me, im autistic and often just don’t get these things, but; why r people so pissy about violence? if there r 2 things humans have never really stopped doing they r fucking and killing each other. so y is there always someone that gets upset every time violence is depicted in art? also the freedom of expression argument does not support this game being on steam, its merely a counter to those who think it shouldn’t be on steam. valve has every right to pick and choose what its selling, but “its offensive” is not a… Read more »
zeve
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zeve

On the free expression argument:

That sword cuts two ways. I know it’s verboten to cry foul on behalf of a company, but seriously: what about Valve’s right to free expression? Why are they required to carry a message they disagree with? Steam isn’t a public forum, it’s a privately owned publishing platform – they are not, and should not be, required to put out every idea submitted to them. Likewise for target and Kmart.

The Spearman
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The Spearman
I was under the impression that the big selling point of Greenlight was to get games published that other publishers, including Steam wouldn’t otherwise carry. It’s a pain in the ass for unpublished developers to get their products on Steam and this was intended as a fast tracking mechanism. The message that Valve is sending right now is that they’ll publish 30 year old non-game FMVs for the low price of $10, random mobile games that have no business being on the PC, and half-assed cash grabs if enough people *claim* they’ll buy them. However, for some reason they seem… Read more »
Zeve
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Zeve
Oh, Valve should DEFINITELY have a tighter grip on what slips out of Greenlight. My point here, one that Jim has brought up a few times, is that this isn’t a free expression issue. A lot of the arguments I’ve seen about this controversy have been based on freedom of speech arguments, but no one really argues the counterpoint, which is that Valve should have the right to say no to content it finds abhorrent. There’s a difference in kind between being told “you cannot distribute your message at all,” and being told “I am not going to be party… Read more »
CaitSeith
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CaitSeith

Welcome to the Real World: where there are no clear right or wrong answers; but choices and consequences. Now, a more constructive opinion. It’s true that it’s hypocritical to call for free speech, and denounce the free speech of others at the same time. However, if it serves you as a relief, the case of Hatred and Valve isn’t about free speech. It’s about business politics. Steam doesn’t have any AO-rated game. And I can bet Hatred will get that rating from the ESRB.

Conor Devlin
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Conor Devlin

Valve have dug themselves a bit of a hole with this incident, I’m not too keen to see what ends up happening.

Btw, is that DW music in the background? It’s rad.