The developer of recently-released old-school first-person shooter Ion Fury has apologised after some of its staff were found to have made sexist and transphobic comments online, and homophobic language was discovered in the game itself.
Voidpoint came under fire over the weekend after ResetEra user Twenty5Thousand brought to light sexist and transphobic comments made by staff in Ion Fury's official Discord.
Among the raft of comments criticised is this post from a developer who goes by the name "terminx":
"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."
The official Voidpoint Twitter page then doubled down, suggesting the Discord comments were taken out of context because they'd been Photoshopped.
That's your choice, but you should probably do your own research before coming to that conclusion. The crop tool in Photoshop has always been just as much about what you are removing as what you are keeping.— Voidpoint's ION FURY out NOW (@voidpnt) August 17, 2019
Later, homophobic language was found in Ion Fury itself. ResetEra user Flapjack21 found a room in the game, accessed using a noclip cheat, that displayed the word "fagbag".
In other, easily-accessible rooms are what look like hand soap bottles with the homophobic slur "ogay" written on them.
Eurogamer contacted publisher 3D Realms boss Mike Nielsen for comment. Nielsen said "moving forward all of 3D Realms' contracts will include terms which would allow us to sever relationships if a contractor does not abide by our zero-tolerance policy for hate speech".
Here's the statement in full:
"It has come to our attention Voidpoint, the developers of Ion Fury, have been accused of making transphobic and misogynistic statements.
"Under current leadership 3D Realms has taken pride empowering marginalized groups, as evident by our strong female protagonist Shelly 'Bombshell' Harrison and the makeup of our team.
"Moving forward all of 3D Realms' contracts will include terms which would allow us to sever relationships if a contractor does not abide by our zero-tolerance policy for hate speech."
Eurogamer also contacted Voidpoint co-founders Evan Ramos and Richard Gobeille for comment. They responded with a statement of their own, apologising for the sexist and transphobic comments and the homophobic language in Ion Fury. Voidpoint also vowed to add "mandatory sensitivity training" for all employees and contractors, and said it will donate $10,000 from Ion Fury's release day proceeds to The Trevor Project, an American non-profit focused on suicide prevention efforts in the LGBTQ community. Finally, the developer said it will patch out any "unacceptable language" in the game.
Here's the statement in full:
"Members of Voidpoint's Ion Fury team have made sexist and transphobic comments, and included homophobic language in Ion Fury.
"We recognise these statements are insensitive, unacceptable, and counterproductive to causes of equality. We unequivocally apologise both for these comments and language as well as for any pain they have caused the gaming community, particularly women and members of the LGBTQ community. We take full responsibility for any damage that has been done to the relationships we've worked so hard to build.
"Moving forward, Voidpoint will institute a zero-tolerance policy for this type of language and all employees and contractors will undergo mandatory sensitivity training. As part of our efforts to contribute to the work that must be done to further support these communities, we are donating $10,000 from Ion Fury's release day proceeds to The Trevor Project. We are also patching Ion Fury ASAP to remove all unacceptable language."
Despite these statements, important questions remain unanswered. Voidpoint has so far failed to detail any disciplinary action against the developers responsible for the Discord comments, or explained how the unacceptable language made it into the game in the first place.
Ion Fury, which was called Ion Maiden before a lawsuit from Iron Maiden, is a spin-off of 3D Realms' shooter Bombshell. It's inspired by the likes of Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior and Blood - and, in fact, was created using an enhanced version of those games' legendary Build Engine. It's the work of a group of fans and engine modders, with the co-founders leading the project while employing staff and contractors situated in a variety of locations across the world.
The recent developments cast a troubling shadow over Ion Fury, which is otherwise a brilliant shooter. As for Voidpoint, its reputation will be seriously damaged.