Warner Bros. has apologised for the way it handled the controversial Shadow of War Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC and offered refunds to those who bought it.
Monolith executive producer Michael Forgey, who died from a brain tumour last year aged just 43-years-old, was set to appear in Shadow of War as a DLC character Forthog Orc-Slayer.
Warner Bros. sold Forthog for Ł3.99 on Steam and Xbox One, and said it would donate a portion of every purchase to Forgey's widow and children.
But Warner Bros. came under fire for small print that indicated the publisher would only donate money to the Forgey family from purchases of the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC made from most of the states in the US. This suggested if you were in Europe and you bought the DLC, none of the money would go to the Forgey family. Warner Bros. seemingly confirmed this in a tweet from Shadow of War's official Twitter account.
This small print, buried as it was at the end of a trailer and in a YouTube video description, led to some to accuse Warner Bros. of profiting from the death of an employee.
The publisher then issued a statement insisting the company wouldn't make money from the sales of the DLC, but the statement failed to detail how that was possible given the small print on promotional material.
Now, Warner Bros. has issued a new statement, and it finally goes into detail on what went wrong.
The company said even though it decided to donate all profits to the family, it only planned to actively promote the donation in the US, excluding certain states based on their charitable promotion laws. "We hoped this approach would raise as much money as possible for the Forgey family in compliance with the law," Warner Bros. said.
Many had questioned where funds from other territories, such as Europe, would go. Why didn't Warner Bros. answer these questions at the time?
"Answering that direct question itself could have triggered compliance obligations or put us in violation of cause marketing laws in some of the 241 territories in which the content was available," the company explained.
"Additionally, a factually incorrect tweet from our team exacerbated the confusion by stating that international funds would not be going to the family. For absolute clarity; our intention was always to give all profits from the DLC, worldwide to the Forgey family."
Warner Bros. has now pulled the DLC from sale and made it a free download. The official videos about the DLC have been taken down from YouTube. If you bought the DLC, you'll get a refund. Warner Bros. will instead make a donation directly to the Forgey family.
"We now recognise that tying our donation to sales of the DLC was not the best way to achieve our goal of offering financial support to the family and creating a lasting memorial to Michael Forgey. We sincerely apologise to the fans and to the Forgey family for the confusion we created."
So that's that. Throughout this entire PR debacle, Monolith was praised for its heart-warming gesture - and indeed the effort it must have taken to make the Forthog Orc-Slayer a reality. It was publisher Warner Bros., which had already come under fire for its controversial microtransaction plan for Shadow of War, that was accused of nefarious motives. I imagine the developers were pretty exasperated by the whole thing.
Those who wish to directly donate money to the Forgey family can do via YouCaring.com.