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Valve bars Steam developer who posted anti-trans rant in patch notes


Artist's conception of Valve eliminating Dolphin Barn Interactive from Steam.
Enlarge / Artist’s conception of Valve eliminating Dolphin Barn Interactive from Steam.

Valve has removed Roman gladiator sim Domina from Steam after the developer used a recent patch notes post as an opportunity to rant against transgender people and the idea of changing your public gender identity.

Dolphin Barn Interactive’s v 1.3.25 patch notes for the game, published on Wednesday, asks for “respect” as the game changes from its “deadname” of “Domina” to the rebranded “Dominus,” which has supposedly undergone a “sex change.” The thinly veiled post gets more direct as it goes on to demean a well-known trans streamer and asks players to “stop destroying the innocence of children by lying to them about basic biology.”

The Steam store page for Domina says the game is no longer available “at the request of the publisher.” But in a post on a newly created Gab account, Dolphin Barn Interactive’s Nicholas Gorissen said that is “incorrect” and that “Steam cancelled us” over the developer’s views on trans people.

Gorissen also shared a forum screenshot (mirrored on ResetEra) that includes a ban message from “a member of Steam support” citing “a recent announcement posted to the Domina community hub [that] includes insults targeting another person… With that in mind, we are ending our business relationship with Dolphin Barn Incorporated and removing all associated products from sale.”

Steam’s Rules and Guidelines for discussion and user-generated content bars posts that “flame or insult other members.” Steam’s online conduct policy further bars posts that “defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten, or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.”

A post shared by Nicholas Gorissen detailing Valve's reasoning for the ban.
Enlarge / A post shared by Nicholas Gorissen detailing Valve’s reasoning for the ban.

Valve’s message, as posted by Gorissen, also references previous communications asking Gorissen to stop clearing reviews that had been flagged by Steam moderators for other rule violations. The developer pushed back against this idea in an early August post, which complained that “we can’t even flag the lying reviews as fraudulent because nameless, cowardly steam moderators whom we cannot interact with, have final editorial control!”

Back in March, Domina drew controversy for a patch notes post that included an entreaty to “TAKE OFF THE FCKN MASKS – Next time you’re at the grocery store, try showing a woman your face. Be confident, unafraid of the LIES…”

Gorissen claims on Gab to have “brought millions of revenue to the table” for Steam, and data from Steam Charts and Game Data Crunch suggests the game has been a modest sales success since its 2017 release. The game has received over 10,000 Steam reviews since its launch, though a few thousand of those have come in the last month amid a flood that Steam has flagged as “off-topic review activity.”

Last year, Steam banned developer “Very Positive” from the service for using a name that manipulated user perceptions of its game’s reviews. And in 2018, Insel Games was barred from the service for encouraging employees to write fake reviews.



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