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3D Realms Can't Afford the Ion Fury Backlash

ion fury cover

Ion Fury is a great game. It's a fantastic return to form for 3D Realms, which hasn't had a hit in over a decade. Going back to what its strengths, 3D Realms and developer Voidpoint built a game in the same engine as its biggest title Duke Nukem 3D. Yes, that game from 1996. It looks like it too, but outdated graphics aside, the game is a fantastic throwback to when first-person shooters were fast, furious and crude.

However, times have changed and some of that crudeness is not appropriate anymore. Some developers from Voidpoint even made homophobic and transphobic comments on the company's Discord channel. Later, gamers found transphobic language within the game itself. One homophobic slur was found in an inaccessible area by way of a no clip cheat code. The other instance is in the game proper where the game's hand soap is made by the company "Ogay." This is to make fun of the soap and toiletries company Olay.

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At first, Voidpoint apologized for the language used. Representatives promised to remove the content via a patch, have employees go through sensitivity training and even donate to a LGBTQ+ charity. However, after being review bombed on Steam, the game did a complete about-face. Voidpoint and 3D Realms released a joint statement saying they do not support censorship and would not remove the content. Now since the release of this statement, the offensive word in the cheat code has been removed. Apparently, the word -- "fagbag" -- came from a non-English speaking developer, who alleges they didn't know what it meant; the "Ogay" joke remains.

This is arguably the most attention 3D Realms has had in eight years. The last time was for Duke Nukem Forever and that isn't what could be called "good press" either. Furthermore, it wasn't seen as a good game by many players. It did have something to do with Prey (the 2006 game, not the reboot), but despite that game's quality, it didn't set the world on fire. As such, it could be argued that Ion Fury is the best game 3D Realms has had since Max Payne, which it barely had anything to do with. Remedy developed that game, but Voidpoint developed Ion Fury so we'll take what we can get.

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The point is, 3D Realms struggled to stay open during the development of Duke Nukem Forever and it's a miracle it's even around now. Now it has a game that's getting genuine strong reviews and positive buzz among gamers, but it's getting buried by this controversy. It's possible that this could all blow over and people will not care in a few months, but it could also kill the momentum of the game during a time when it could be gaining ground.

3D Realms is a small developer that doesn't have the brand awareness to withstand controversy the way a Ubisoft or Activision can. Whether they can weather a PR storm like this or not is not a question that should be answered -- it shouldn't be having one in the first place. 3D Realms needs a win right now and now and it has one, but it shouldn't be shadowed by some bad jokes.

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