HOF Studios, the developers of FTL and XCOM hybrid Depth Of Extinction, has run into a bit of trouble with one of its customers. Following a negative Steam review left by a user, the developer revoked their Steam key as they thought that he wasn’t “interested in playing the game”.
Tactical rougelike RPG Depth Of Extinction originally started as a beta on itch’s ‘First Access’ program. Purchasing the game on itch.io entitles you to receive a Steam key once it is available to be distributed. In this case, business proceeded as usual and Ryan Dorkoski, who purchased Depth Of Extinction on itch.io, received his Steam Key. Upon leaving a negative review for the game on Steam, the developers revoked his Steam key, a product that he had paid for.
In the review, Ryan constructively criticizes the game and concludes on, “Sadly this is a hard pass from me.” Following the review, the developers revoked the user’s Steam key, and when confronted, responded in a very odd fashion.
“Sorry about that, but I thought I you weren’t interested in playing the game. I would have loved to get your feedback during the First Access but I didn’t see anything from you until the Steam review, which was a little confusing,” replied HOF Studios in an email. “I really don’t see how you saw enough of the current version of the game to make the judgement call you did there since we made massive changes in the last few months that were all just on Steam.”
In their response, the developer says that they can issue another key if Ryan is “interested in playing more and perhaps providing some feedback on how we can improve the game.” Shortly after, the developer did just that and apologized for the fiasco.
“yep, we screwed up on that one and apologized and fixed it.”
Although this was a very unpleasant experience for Ryan, he accepted their apology as the developers locked the thread but left it up “as a testament to Ryan’s understanding and character. ” Though the situation has been resolved, it should be noted that this kind of practice is unacceptable. Regardless of whether a user is interested in their game or not, a developer should never attempt to revoke a key that the user paid for.