Steam pulls game after developer makes death threats

Posted: October 21, 2014 in Game Articles

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by Chris Morris

A developer who threatened the life of Valve Software honcho Gabe Newell via an angry Twitter rant Monday has left the company he co-founded, and has hinted he might leave the video game industry as a whole.

In a fit of rage, Mike Maulbeck, co-creator of the game Paranautical Activity, made the threat Monday, resulting in his game being yanked from PC game distribution service Steam, owned and operated by Valve.

Maulbeck was upset that Steam listed his just-released game as still being in Early Access, rather than final. That classification, he feared, would “cripple sales.”

Instead of showing patience and restraint, he took to Twitter and called the company incompetent. And that anger and frustration continued to feed on itself, culminating in Maulbeck claiming he was “going to kill Gabe Newell. He is going to die.” (Maulbeck has since deleted that tweet, though it’s been preserved by Player Attack).

That was enough for Steam to pull the game outright.

Maulbeck attempted to convince Valve to change its mind, but he didn’t exactly pour on the charm.

“I have since … replied to them saying that I didn’t mean what I said and pleaded that they consider the monopoly they have on the PC market before totally writing us off,” Maulbeck wrote.

He probably didn’t help his case by changing his name on Twitter to “Mike Murderback,” which might be fine for Halloween but terrible for a person making death threats. Throwing a full-on Twitter pity party while still continuing to point a finger of blame at Valve didn’t do him and favors, either.

Today, Maulbeck announced he was leaving Code Avarice, the small development team that made the game.

“I’m really, deeply sorry that my short sighted, hot tempered actions resulted in not only my own dreams and aspirations being destroyed, but those of the entire team I worked with,” he wrote. “I’m sorry that my statements made Valve and/or Gabe uncomfortable and upset (rightfully so). … I’ve sold my half of Code Avarice … Given up all my rights to CA as a company, and all it’s intellectual properties. I won’t receive any money from the sale of Paranautical Activity or any future games CA develops, I won’t be consulted on business decisions, and I won’t have any hand in development. I’m out.”

Maulbeck admits that what he said was “unacceptable” and was never meant as an actual threat, but the damage to his company’s relationship with Valve was done. Valve has reportedly cut off all communication with him.

Whether Maulbeck’s departure will result in the game returning to Steam remains to be seen, but his partner Travis Pfenning seems to be following along the same tone-deaf line of apology, tweeting “I feel like this wouldnt be such a big deal if it werent for the gamergate people threatening people and meaning it.” Death threats are kind of always a big deal, Travis.

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