Digital Homicide Terminates $18 Million Lawsuit Against Steam Users
Just a few weeks after filing suit against 100 anonymous Steam users for ongoing harassment through the digital games store and client, the lawsuit has been terminated by Digital Homicide without prejudice. In an interview following the suit’s dismissal, one-half of Digital Homicide, James Romine, said that the company was “destroyed.”
In legal terms, a lawsuit dismissed without prejudice can be refiled at a later date. So while Romine had the case dismissed, that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily permanently done. However, if the biggest barrier to the continuation of the lawsuit if money, it’s probably not coming back any time soon.
With the dismissal of the lawsuit, it appears to the end of Digital Homicide. Romine said “[Digital Homicide is] destroyed. It’s been stomped into the ground from a thousand directions and use is discontinued. I’m going back into the work force.” The company hasn’t completely ceased business as Digital Homicide is still selling its games as a bundle through itch.io and has a number of referral links to G2A, eBay and Audible on its website. However, it seems unlikely that Valve will re-admit Digital Homicide and its games to Steam after attempting to sue users.
It might be worth noting that Romine complained to Tech Raptor in a response to their initial report on the dismissal filing that the lawsuit was filed under his name rather than as Digital Homicide. He likened it to “a manager at a large mall shop filing suit against some harassers” and the store being blamed. I would contend that the manager of said hypothetical store doesn’t make himself the public face in charge of public relations for the company and isn’t part-owner of the company either so Romine’s analogy isn’t close to being apt. It would be like me filing suit as a result of something that directly tied into the business operations of et geekera. I implicitly represent the blog’s interests at all times but especially when I engage in matters related to the blog’s operations.
I will grant Romine one point. His legal action should have opened up a discussion about online moderation of Steam in ways that we’ve seen about Facebook and Twitter previously. Perhaps it’s the messenger (the developer of poorly received games) and the means he used to get his message across (an $18 million lawsuit) that resulted in the discussion over moderation and protection of harassed users was a non-starter. When a loved developer or a triple-A publisher feels attacked in a similar way, we’ll likely see some action from Valve. Until then, any moderation problem Steam might have won’t be addressed.
Interestingly, there is a little update on the lawsuit against Jim Sterling. The critic is being sued for $15 million by Digital Homicide (under James Romine’s name) for “assault, libel and slander” as a result of his criticism of Digital Homicide’s work. Speaking to Tech Raptor, Romine said that the suit “waits for dismissal decision.” Looking at filings online, a decision has yet to be rendered in a motion to dismiss by Sterling’s lawyers. It would seem more news on the Digital Homicide v. Jim Sterling front is expected soon.