There comes a time in every major game developer's lifetime, often at the apex of their prime, when they will fall foul to the whims of an angry and expectant fanbase who believe that, due to them pouring countless time and money into a game, they own the end product.
We've seen it happen recently with Hello Games and #NoMansSky and we've bemoaned gamers' apathy after the #Bioware and #MassEffect3 debacle left us speechless, but this time the eye of wrath has fallen upon Sports Interactive (SI) who have made themselves the leading force in football (soccer) management sims with their seminal #FootballManager series.
Along their route to becoming the league leaders, SI managed to make enemies with a number of their Chinese fans due to a lack of localization, which led to SI's boss Miles Jacobsen receiving death threats. Death threats, man, because of a football management simulator.
The fans took to Steam to vent their grievances over SI's failure to support Simplified Chinese within #FM17 by dragging its pre-release review score down to 'Mostly Negative', which is one hell of an occurrence considering how the series has literally gone from strength to strength over its 20+ year life span.
This whole debacle came to light after SI revealed that additional languages in FM17 would be handled by the #Steam Workshop community, meaning they wouldn't be included at launch.
As much as we'd love to translate the game into every language, it's often not possible for us to do so. So, in the same way as we let people add extra leagues to the game and make them available via Steam Workshop, with FM17 we're doing the same with languages.
I guess if you are there handing over hard earned cash for your favorite game and they refuse to include your mother tongue, you'd be a little pissed too. I sure would! Especially if I was told that if I didn't like it, I'd have to do it myself.
But Football Manager doesn't sell particularly well in China. Or not as well as the the 16 regions whose languages are supported. So it makes sense why there hasn't been a translation for a language with 4 million words? So why the fuss?
Well back in 2011, Jacobsen suggested in a tweet that if the game's sales dramatically increased and pirating took a walk off the plank, only then would SI consider including the language in future titles.
Fast forward five years and the expectant fanbase were in high hopes over what they had believed to be a promise. SteamSpy's figures suggested FM sales in China to be higher than they actually were, but Jacobsen poured cold water on those dreams by stating SteamSpy didn't bring into account physical copies of the game, meaning the data tracking service could be off by up to 60%.
Even with all of these details coming to light, Jacobsen, Sports Interactive and Football Manager continue to attract vitriol over a promise that wasn't even made in the first place. Vitriol which resulted in Jacobsen's family being threatened with harm. In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz, a usually laid-back Jacobsen was naturally in a pent up mood:
"I have to be very careful on this subject, because I have had death threats over this. I don't mind, well I do mind, but I'm quite used to getting death threats over a video game. But when people start bringing my family into it, that's not good.
When people are accusing me of being racist, as someone who is an ambassador for Kick Racism Out Of Football, that's not great. Because I'm not racist, and I don't think death threats over a video game are acceptable, and attacking someone's family is really, really not acceptable."
"I'm quite used to getting death threats over a video game", says the man who runs a company that creates the best football management simulator ever made. I know I've repeated that sentiment but... dude.
Yes, not having your language supported by your favorite game would be a very irritating pitfall to shuffle by, but, for example, Football Manager isn't sold in Germany! Their really very good national team is made up of not very good generated players. Do you see Germans taking to Twitter screaming "VERPISST DICH!" in Jacobsen's direction?
It's just a game, like all games. Where does the fun sit in threatening someone's family?
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[Sources: Twitter, Gamesindustry.biz]