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MechWarrior studio apologises after its policing of in-game trans rights messages sparks concern

"We can and will do better together!"

Piranha Games, developer of MechWarrior Online, has apologised for forcing players to re-name a competitive team titled "Trans Fights" and "Trans Rights", after previously saying it was simply enforcing the game's Terms of Service and Code of Conduct.

Piranha boss Russ Bullock initially sparked ire on Twitter when explaining the studio's reasoning behind the move - as well as its decision to ban a user who continually posted the message "Trans rights".

"I have zero concerns about [Piranha] staff in this regard everyone is 100 percent inclusive with no prejudice," Bullock wrote over the weekend, in response to Piranha's handling of the situation. "For super obv reasons the word Trans and others are and have been excluded in the EULA for a very very long time."

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Bullock suggested the word "Trans" was banned due to "bad trolls" and that while "it's fine to be disappointed and wish [Piranha] had somehow found a way around this tough situation... it's disingenuous to immediately call [Piranha] anti trans etc. Unfortunately bad apples create situations that limit choice for the larger group."

Today, Piranha's live operations manager Matt Newman apologised for the response, and said Bullock had been responding while unaware of specific moderation actions - including the blocking of a player who repeatedly posted the phrase "trans rights". Screenshots posted to Twitter appeared to show this user being told by customer support that "while real-life political discussions are important, we do not believe this is the appropriate environment for such discussion".

Some users countered this by saying that trans rights should not be classed as political, and that a blanket ban on highlighting such issues favoured those against the trans rights movement. Others also highlighted Piranha's recent support for Pride, and contrasted that with its response here.

"First, let me say, there is zero bigotry or ill will toward the trans community from Piranha Games, myself, or the Customer Support Team," Newman wrote in a blog posted to Piranha's official site this afternoon. "We do our best to apply the ToS and CoC in the fairest way possible. We are not perfect.

"In particular, moderation action was taken to rename a competitive team using the names Trans Fights and Trans Rights. This was not the correct decision. We should have asked more questions and determined the true intent behind the name selection, and those having issues with them.

"Our actions obviously hurt and offended people, I apologise. We will do better. With the understanding that trans rights is not a political issue, we will allow the team to use either of their original choices as their team name. Additionally, we will be reversing any moderation actions taken in connection with this moderation."