A few days back, this thing made the rounds: Games sure are classy. In case you missed it, here’s the summary: Someone was selling a game module on DriveThruRPG that was named „Tournament of Rapists“. Someone else got upset about this and complained to DriveThruRPG, who… showed a remarkable inability when it comes to a) understanding the issue and b) how to handle this sort of complaint.
They got a lot of flak for this, so, after the weekend, they went into full defence mode:
Their new policy states: „If a reported title looks questionable, then we will suspend it from sale while we review its content internally, and we will speak with its publisher to determine the fate of the title on our marketplace. Our default will be to suspend titles rather than our prior default of letting titles stay public.“
They also state „We are no longer a wide-open marketplace.“
Which then made James Raggi from Lamentations of the Flame Princess fear for his income. Understandably so, as his products are quite controversial in some circles. I mean, they include walking penis demons and violence and sexual imagery. So he decided to go on a forward defence and used DriveThruRPGs messaging system (the only way to reach his customers there IIRC), to tell those who bought his stuff there how to not get screwed in the case of a pulled product.
Which in turn got someone elses panties in a bunch.
My take on this
First off: Bards and Sages Publishing is right on one thing: Pulling the Tournament of Rapists was, at that point in time, a sane thing to do for DriveThruRPG, and the wording of their policy indeed is more liberal than, say, Amazons. But the difference is that Amazon has a team that is comparatively well-schooled and professional when it comes to reacting to internet shitstorms.
DriveThruRPG has just shown that it completely fails in that regard. They completely missed the point of the initial complaint, they then tried to sorta-defend the thing, they didn’t go out and explained their points in a way that the wider audience will get that message, and then hastily set up a new policy without soothing the legitimate fears of the merchants.
And that is why James Raggi is probably right with his decision to set up precautions.