Indie Developer Michael Maulbeck found out the hard way that threatening a prominent member of the industry isn’t a great way to get attention.
Maulbeck released the final version of his game, Paranautical Activity, on Steam yesterday. The Steam page for the game indicated that the game was still in Early Access. Maulbeck said to Eurogamer that he “knew this would greatly cripple sales and confuse customers.” Maulbeck even says he’d received tweets and emails from customers who thought he’d marked it that way to avoid criticism.
Maulbeck contacted Valve initially, but it seems he didn’t wait long before unleashing a stream of tweets that would ultimately get him in trouble.
One of the more reasonable tweets from Maulbeck said that “by the time they fix this, we’ll no longer be on the front page, and their response will be ‘oh well.'” That’s a reasonable concern. You’ve put hard work into a game and getting advertising in during that crucial launch period can make all the difference. Whether it’s Steam or Xbox Live, indie devs have had to work through issues like these.
Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there. After calling Steam as a service incompetent (using a few extra words), Maulbeck lamented what he sees as a monopoly.
Then he said, in a now-deleted tweet, “I am going to kill gabe newell[sic]. He is going to die.”
At this point, Valve pulled Maulbeck’s game from Steam and closed down his administrative accounts.
Valve told Maulbeck via email that it is “generally comfortable with partners expressing this type of frustration or any other viewpoint directly with us or publicly through social media and the press.” The representative said, though that “one of your tweets this morning was a threat to kill one of our colleagues. Death threats cross a line.”
The game’s Steam page is still up for anyone who did buy the game. Maulbeck expressed frustration at how difficult it is to be a game developer without Steam support and says he’s “done making video games now.” He says that his “tendency to get heated and overly passionate has burned [him] many times in the past,” and that “it was only a matter of time” before it ended this way. Maulbeck has contacted Valve to plead his case, but feels pretty certain he won’t get a response, according to Eurogamer.
The game is still available on other services, such as the Humble Store and Desura, and it’s possible Valve could still look at reinstating the game following Maulbeck’s apology.