One of the strangest and most interesting video game stories has to be the story behind the game Paranautical Activity. If you haven’t ever heard it, then I’ll talk about it now. The story so far:
A little over two years ago, Paranautical Activity (PA) was on Greenlight. With Greenlight being new and the votes for his game not coming, the lead developer Mike Maulberg went to Adult Swim Games (AS) as the publisher. Since AS is a trusted publisher, the game would be given a free ride onto Steam. Of course, AS would take a huge cut of the money (25%), but the developers needed Steam.
However, Valve insisted that nobody was allowed to bypass the Greenlight system and blocked their entry. Originally, they said that using a publisher as a free ride wasn’t a way to bypass Greenlight, despite that many games have done this. In effect, the developer Code Avarice’s only fault was that they left their Greenlight page open and didn’t remove it prior to partnering with a publisher.
Maulberg is an outspoken person and he immediately went to the press telling everybody that he had been blocked by Steam and Greenlight was a broken system. He also vented a huge amount of anger, and while it was blunt and crude, he had a point. The Internet and the press quickly rallied behind him and PA became a symbol for Greenlight’s broken system for a time.
Eventually PA passed through Greenlight without AS, and it entered Early Access. But in time, the game soured with some of the fans who felt that the game’s promised goals were not being met. Maulberg openly attacked his harshest (and rudest) critics, often mocking them on social networks. It didn’t take long for Maulberg to have the hate that is normally reserved for Phil Fish.
A few days ago, PA was updated to have new Halloween content. Steam made the update not easy, and this already irritated Maulbeck. When it was released, Steam accidentally tagged the game as Early Access again, meaning that it would be hidden from many users that filter those games (including myself). Maulbeck snapped and raged on Twitter. In the end, he threatened to “kill Gabe Newell.”
Death threats are illegal, and Valve (or maybe Gabe himself) didn’t take it kindly. Within a few hours of his post, PA was removed from the store and they were muted on their forums. Valve sent Code Avarice a formal letter that they were no longer doing business with them. The game networks reported on this as well, turning the game and company into pariahs overnight.
Just hours ago, Mike Maulbeck hoist himself on his own petard, announcing that he was leaving Code Avarice entirely. He would not have creative control, have no access to the game or forums, and receive no money from the game. He issued a very earnest apology for what he said. He asked the Valve Gods to put the game back on Steam, and not punish the others in Code Avarice when he was the only person doing bad things.
Somehow I feel that this story isn’t over yet.