Indie Game Developer Accused of Using YouTube Policy to Muzzle Critics

Coming on the heels of yesterday’s story about potential abuse of YouTube’s copyright rules to silence activists, another similar story has emerged, this time from the world of gaming. Several sites, including Hardcore Gamer, are reporting that the game “Island Light” has been pulled from the Steam Greenlight platform after YouTube users reported receiving copyright strikes possibly resulting from negative reviews of the game.

According to reports, several YouTube gamers, including Jim Sterling of The Escapist, were notified of copyright strikes after they criticized the game “Island Light,” the latest work of game maker Kobra Studios. Sterling, whose series “Best of Steam Greenlight” frequently calls in poorly made games for ridicule, has already filed a counter notification in accordance with YouTube’s policies, but his tweet about the issue elicited a handful of similar responses suggesting that Kobra Studio may be selectively enforcing its copyright to silence negative reviews of the game.

In a classic example of what is sometimes called The Streisand Effect, efforts by the company to stifle criticism have only drawn more negative attention. In addition to claims of poor design, Kobra Studio is now also rumored to be the subject of a copyright complaint stemming from the game’s logo. More importantly, the incident once again raises concerns that YouTube’s copyright procedures are subject to abuse by bad actors wishing to silence critics.

Most game makers on Steam support or even solicit coverage from YouTube gamers in hopes that increased publicity will help to fund the completion of their projects. However, if a small independent studio is able to selectively enforce its copyright prerogatives on creators, it would set a troubling precedent for the corporate gaming industry which has increasingly come to see YouTubers as a valuable part of their publicity machine.

Share this article with your favorite gamer because a bad review might have bigger consequences than they think!