Ken Levine has spoken out against the recent spate of abuse leveled at Call of Duty developer David Vonderhaar over Treyarch’s decision to balance a sniper rifle.
A recent patch for the game lowered the weapon’s rate of fire, infuriating a group of fans who took to the internet to air their grievances, often in the form of threats of violence against Vorhees and his family.
Speaking with Eurogamer, the Bioshock creator said how terrible it was to see some of the things said, adding that he thought it could have damaging effects on games down the road.
"Look, I’m very fortunate, Tom," said Levine.
"Don’t play a violin for me. I’ve got a pretty good life and I get to do cool things. I think it’s more actually that it can end up being counterproductive for the gamers’ own interests.”
The core of Levine’s argument is that developers have enough to worry about without getting threats of violence from immature and possibly unstable “fans”.
"Like, for instance, Vonderhaar. If I were him,” continued Levine, “especially to start bringing your family into it… I mean, I’ve had people say threatening things to me.
“You know, it’s like, why would he want to get up the next morning and go try?
Levine said that some developers he respected had walked away from the industry because “it’s just not worth the trouble any more.”
“Especially if you’ve got families and got lives. Everybody’s entitled to do what they want to do, but just like the developer at some point is entitled to say, you know what? It just isn’t worth it for me any more."
Levine mentioned the recent example of Phil Fish, who cancelled Fez 2 and quit the games space over continued spats with fans, industry colleagues, and the press.
The result is that the abuse developers face as a result of their content could wind up making them more likely to cut a game in order to release sooner.
"The amount of pressure. Say if it was someone besides me, the amount of pressure to get DLC out, I could say, f*** it, let’s cut half of it so we can get it out sooner,” said Levine.
“I’m used to the pressure, but there may be a guy who’s not like me, who doesn’t have the experience, who will give into that pressure and release something that’s not as good because they feel that.”
Levine suggests that gamers should simply vote with their wallets instead of taking part in “gamer rage” he feels is counterproductive.
"And that’s what I worry more about is how it affects games,” he said.
“As a gamer, game comes out, I hope it’s good, and if I like it I play it and if I don’t like it I don’t play it, and I think you can get in a strange space where it ends up being counterproductive for the gamers. But for me, it’s just part of the job at this part, but I don’t think it helps gaming."