Ion Fury devs backtrack on decision to remove homophobic content

Voidpoint won’t be removing “joke” after Steam review bombing.

Well if this story hasn’t given you whiplash over the last week or so, it certainly has us. Ion Fury came to our attention a month or so ago after Iron Maiden filled a lawsuit against the game for its original name, Ion Maiden. Voidpoint switched the 90s inspired shooter to the name Ion Fury and we thought that was that. There’s the story. Time to go home everyone. How wrong we were.

Last week Voidpoint hit the headlines again, this time for the inclusion of some childish homophobic jokes within the game itself. The developers were also rightfully criticised for anti-trans statements made in the game’s official discord chat. In response to the controversy raised, Voidpoint released a statement apologising. In a statement to Eurogamer, Evan Ramos and Richard Gobeille said:

“Members of Voidpoint’s Ion Fury team have made sexist and transphobic comments, and included homophobic language in Ion Fury. We recognise these statements are insensitive, unacceptable, and counterproductive to causes of equality. We unequivocally apologise both for these comments and language as well as for any pain they have caused the gaming community, particularly women and members of the LGBTQ community. We take full responsibility for any damage that has been done to the relationships we’ve worked so hard to build.”

Ion Fury

They stated they would not only remove the content, but would also train their team with “mandatory sensitivity training”. They were also planning to make a $10,000 donation of Ion Fury’s sales to The Trevor Project, a charity aiming to help suicidal young LBGTQ people. It was a measured and serious response that was honestly quite refreshing. In an industry where we more often see denial before any kind of ownership of mistakes, this was great. Ah, how short-lived. How young and naive we were.

Since then, Voidpoint have removed one of the homophobic slurs from the game, but have now backtracked on their decision to remove the second. The decision to un-decide on a decision seems to have come as a result of the game getting review bombed on Steam, with a certain subsection of the gaming community complaining that removing the “jokes” amounted to censorship.

The word “censorship” is often weaponised in these sort of discussions to avoid or sidestep any kind of level, and honest criticism of a companies or game’s use of language and its representation. It’s more than just disappointing to see the Voidpoint developers respond in this way, it’s cowardly. It’s made an issue that really should have been small stuff, into something far bigger. 3D Realms and Voidpoint say they still will honour their decision to send money to The Trevor Project and will spend time with their team with “sensitivity training”. While this is something, the shine has definitely gone from the gesture. After all, if they see editing or changing behaviour that hurts people in minorities as an act of censorship, how can they truly be supporting these communities.

The mind boggles. Just another day in the gaming industry folks. To find out more about Ion Fury, and their decision to retract their apology, you can read their forum post on Steam.