The creators of 90s throwback shooter Ion Fury will not remove homophobic content from the game, citing censorship.
The recently released Ion Fury first made waves last week when a user at ResetEra discovered company employees had made offensive comments against trans people, feminism, and so-called social justice warriors over Discord.
“Something I don’t really understand about the social justice stuff is that they have stuff like the ‘slut walk,’ which I thought was about the right to not be harassed for how they dress but, then if you portray women dressed the same way you get shit for it,” wrote one developer called Terminx in a conversation with other members of the Discord channel. Ion Fury features a woman character in the protagonist role, but Terminx maintains there is “no feminist slant.”
Game studio Voidpoint has said these comments were taken out of context. “You should probably do your own research before coming to that conclusion,” wrote the developer tweeting in reply to one user who regretted purchasing the game after seeing the comments from Discord. “The crop tool in Photoshop has always been just as much about what you are removing as what you are keeping.”
However, additional homophobic slurs were spotted in-game over the weekend, including an in-game item labeled “OGAY” – an apparent play on Oil of Olay – and a secret area that features the phrase “fag bag”.
Initially Voidpoint responded to the situation with a promise to donate to $10,000 to the LGBT non-profit The Trevor Project, as well as to patch out the controversial messaging visible in the game. But the studio has since walked back on the latter plan.
“We’ve caused a recent controversy suggesting Ion Fury game content was to be censored,” reads the joint statement, posted to the Steam Community forums.
“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.”
“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.”
“Last but not least, please respect our need to keep our community forums clean from hateful messages, spam, or off-topic threads. We recognize our mistake and have received your message loud and clear!”
Since its release on August 15, Ion Fury has received numerous negative reviews on Steam from players who disapprove of the game getting censored. “By all accounts, Ion Fury itself is an excellent game and an excellent product, a labour of love from a time passed by, and from my own playtime with it i would agree with that assesment [sic]. I would recommend it to anyone strictly on that basis,” reads one of the top-rated user reviews for the game.
“However, I speak for myself foremost, but it also seems that i speak with a *lot* of other customers when i say that it feels like the release of this game, which was so much anticipated, has more or less been ruined by what has happened here with the real downspiral being triggered by 3D Realms decision to kowtow to a hate mob, clearly against the expectations of their own customers. This incident has become, in my opinion, an exemplar of what *not* to do.”
Ion Fury follows protagonist Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, who was first featured in the 2016 game Bombshell. In Ion Fury, Harrison is out to stop Dr. Jadus Heskel and his army of cyber-cultists using her Loverboy revolver and Bowling Bombs.