CoH2, learning from the mistakes of others

    Events around the release of another cranberry based on World War II took an unexpected turn. So unexpected that even the apolitical Habr touched. Consider the consequences of this event for domestic and foreign game dev, as well as try to make several conclusions.
    I also recommend reading the Kanobu Special Investigation


    First, a little background. The release of a new game from Relic has disappointed many domestic fans of this series with a biased plot that has the entire set of Cold War stamps, such as the evil NKVD, detachments with machine guns, one rifle for three, the Gulag and the protagonist - a dissident of undetermined nationality. At the same time, the game claims historical authenticity. In general, "all according to secret documents." Especially, this view contrasts with the original game about the paladins of the West without fear and rebuke liberating the French land.
    One of the dissatisfied was the popular critic BadComedian, who had previously specialized in films. The review of this game scored nearly half a million views on Karamba, after which, at the request of the public, the American version was mounted, which has currently gained almost a quarter of a million views on YouTube.
    Further, other people already created two petitions in 1C and Steam with a request to stop selling this game in the CIS. Having collected 20 thousand signatures, one of them forced 1C to stop selling this game. Few expected this turn, but it happened.
    In connection with appeals by users who consider a series of episodes of the game unacceptable, 1C-SoftKlab decided to stop selling the computer game Company of Heroes 2 (developer - Relic Entertainment, publisher - SEGA) from July 26, 2013 in the Russian Federation and the CIS . We are currently analyzing the situation and informed the developer and publisher of Company of Heroes 2 about this.

    Relic Look

    Relic, trying first not to notice the reaction of the public, then to make fun of it, in the end had to go into a blank defense, bathing the dissatisfied and separating the Russian players from the Western ones. Judging by the fact that the community manager responsible for communicating with the Russian-speaking community was recently dismissed, some will be responsible for this "success". Although it is not known for certain whether this is due to the events described or whether he really ended the contract, the fact is that he does not work there anymore.

    In the process of communicating with Relic, a lot of interesting things turned out. Below you can get acquainted with the opinion of Relic, the most prominent pieces are highlighted in bold:

    I don't think we quite anticipated the tone or volume of the negative reaction . The number of vague death threats I've received today from Russia is pretty amazing.

    Let me be clear. We had a large Russian player base in the original Company of Heroes and that's grown to become our third largest after the USA and Germany . Russians are valude members of our community, and we hope to be better able to serve them in the future.

    Most Russians who've played the game have given fantastic feedback. Some have even sent touching stories about how it's good to see a western company showing their side of the war rather than just doing another game about Normandy. Some of them mention their grandfathers or now great-grandfathers and where they served or possibly died.

    Much of the negative feedback is coming from people who have not played the game . Just like it's not the people who read Harry Potter books who want to ban them, or it wasn't beatles fans who wanted to burn their music, this wave of angry feedback is being whipped up by people who have taken snippets of our campaign, placed them out of context and then told people to be angry about it. But of course it's kind of an honor to get the Beatles / Harry Potter treatment if you think about it.

    Those who have actually played the campaign should see that we do celebrate the bravery of the common Russian soldier, and how just as in any other army it isn't about fighting for you flag or your goverment but standing there next to the man beside you because he's your brother and comrade. There are scenes where soldiers disobey orders to save other soldier, and are punished for it.

    Ultimately the Soviet Union was a brutal dictatorship as ruthless as Nazi Germany. That's why our game isn't about Stalin, because he was no hero. Nor was Hitler. The game is, and always has been, about the heroes on the front lines who had little to do with the politics that surrounded the war.

    Lots of soldiers fought, on all sides, with bravery and honor. We don't deny that, and we believed we celebrate it with the game.

    However we also show a few of the problematic aspects of living in a dictatorship. Times were hard, and maybe it could be argued that Stalin's tactics were what won the war. That however doesn't mean that they didn't happen, no matter how we choose to try to remember our history.

    I'm a firm believer that a country should confront its past, even it's negative past. It gives us lessons for how to be better in the future.

    This isn't a Russian problem anymore than people burning Beatles records is an American problem or people trying to ban Harry Potter is an American problem.It's small group of individuals making their country look bad because they've been told by something that has nothing to do with them.

    Now go out and buy more copies of the game so we can sell as many as the Beatles and Harry Potter.

    I do not think that any of us expected such a level or volume of negative reaction. The number of vague death threats that I have received from Russia today is quite surprising.

    Let me be clear. We had a large Russian player base in the original Company of Heroes, which grew to the third largest after the USA and Germany. Russians are valuable members of our community, and we hope it is better to serve them in the future.

    Most of the Russians who played this game gave fantastic reviews. Some of them even sent touching stories about how nice it is to see Western companies that show the war on their part, and not just make another game about Normandy. Some of them mention their grandfathers, or now great-grandfathers, and where they served or may have died.

    Most of the negative reviews come from people who have not played this game.Just like people who didn’t read Harry Potter books, but who wanted to ban them, or who didn’t hear the Beatles songs, but who wanted to burn their music, this wave of angry reviews is being pushed by people who took fragments from our campaign, them out of context, and then made people angry about this. But of course, it's partly an honor to get the same reaction as the Beatles / Harry Potter, if you think about it.

    Those who actually went through the campaign should have seen that we are celebrating the courage of a simple Russian soldier, and like in any other army, it’s not about fighting for a flag or government, but about a person next to you who didn’t back down because he your brother and comrade. There are scenes where a soldier does not obey orders in order to save the life of another soldier, for which he is subsequently punished.

    In the end, the Soviet Union was a brutal dictatorship as ruthless as Nazi Germany. That is why our game is not about Stalin, because he was not a hero. As was not Hitler. The game, and it always has been, is about heroes on the front lines who had little to do with politics and who were surrounded by war.

    Many soldiers fought, from all sides, with courage and honor. We do not deny it, and we wanted to glorify it in the game.

    However, we also show some of the problematic aspects of life under dictatorship. The time was difficult, and the fact that it was precisely Stalin’s tactics that led to victory was a moot point. This, however, does not mean that these things did not happen, no matter how we would like to remember our story.

    I firmly believe that any country should look back on its past, even if it was dark. It teaches us how to make the future a better place.

    This is no more a problem for the Russians than burning Beatles or trying to ban the problem of Americans with Harry Potter. This is a small group of people exposing their country in a bad light because someone told them on YouTube something that is not relevant to them.

    Now go out and buy more copies of the game, then we can sell as much as the Beatles and Harry Potter.

    The most interesting thing that can be gleaned from this is that Russia turns out to occupy the third place among RTS fans. And the third largest market is not something that can be simply neglected.

    Public response

    Most user reviews ranged from sharply to moderately negative. One of the reviews posted on the Metacritic website says: “Thank you. Hitler would play this game with pleasure. ”
    At the end of June, people who were not connected with the game industry also joined the game’s assessment: for example, among the dissatisfied plot of the game, besides bloggers and gamers, there were also participants in the events described in“ Company of Heroes- 2 ". Ivan Karnaukhov, a veteran of World War II, a participant in the Battle of Moscow and the Battle of Kursk-Oryol, said:
    We didn’t run from any machine guns that seemed to hit us in the back. We fought for our country [...] Of course, cowards existed at all times and were in all armies. But this does not mean that you need to treat our country as offensively as the developers of such games do. We cannot be disgraced

    Samara writer Vasily Semenov expressed his opinion about the game like this:
    The developers of this strategy are either sick in the head or deliberately distorting our history, leveling out the great victory of the Red Army. The lies about the evil squads are annoying

    Habr reaction was less ambiguous. Although this is more likely connected with the rejection of any censorship in principle and the raising of freedom of expression to an absolute, in which the author can express any point of view.


    What happened is quite natural. Similar situations were around the films US2 and "4 days in May." The uniqueness of this situation is that the object of dissatisfaction in this case was the game, not the film.

    The fate of Relic is surprisingly similar to the fate of the author Burnt by the Sun 2. They are certainly talented and have outstanding works in the past, but trying to bring the TRUTH (!!!), consisting of the propaganda of Dr. Goebbels, to the people, a little more than completely failed. after which they stated that the “conspiracy of bloggers” was to blame, and the film / game itself was good. Relic's problem is that they did not study the market, which is the 3rd largest, otherwise they would know that our people are already fed up with slops for World War II and have not voted for them for a long time and the public reaction would not have caught them by surprise. They decided that their stereotypes about the USSR are the ultimate truth, which cannot be doubted, for which, in fact, they paid. There is an opinion that bad advertising is still advertising, but for some reason it seems to me that in Relic itself, the current situation is now clearly not thrilled. Yes, they have already received most of the profit, but it is not clear how this will affect the sales of their next games.
    It would seem that it prevented them from taking several award sheets, the benefit of many thousands, and based on them to write a script about real heroes, and not about a fictional war? Would sales in the United States and Germany fall because of this? But no, they decided to expose totalitarianism. Well, maybe their competitors will be wiser.

    Is 1C correct? From the point of view of 1C, it’s probably optimal. They have already sold the game, they have already received most of the profit, and now it is possible to stop selling. If they refused, the losses would be significantly higher, both image and financial. Perhaps most of the signatories of the petition did not really play the game, and would never buy it, but if they do not satisfy their requirements, then they can generally stop buying anything from 1C out of principle. Moreover, downloading pirates has long been no problem.


    Firstly, no matter how famous a company you are and how confident you are in your knowledge, but do not be too lazy to study your audience and the market as a whole. Otherwise, a single spark will be enough, in which a substantial part of your profit will burn, and maybe access to the market as a whole will be closed.

    And secondly, it turns out not only in the cinema, but also in some game genres, the domestic audience has already reached the weight at which you can set your own requirements for developers.

    UPDATE I cannot but add the findings of the Kanobu Special Investigation

    Hence the number one conclusion: If in your game some kind of “byak” is sewn up, then the real term for which you can extend without scandal is a month from the strength.

    Conclusion number two will be painfully classic: In the support of the game, you always need to monitor your language and not flog nonsense.

    Conclusion number three: you must clearly understand that any creative work based on real historical events will always face a battle between fiction and truth. Moreover, each interpreter will have his own truth.

    Conclusion number four: If the event jumped outside the industry, you need to clearly state your position on this issue.

    Conclusion number five: If a snowball rolled from a mountain, then it will surely turn into an avalanche.

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