Gaming / PC

Paranautical Activity Developer Issues Apology For Death Threat That Got Game Pulled From Steam

Code Avarice, the developer behind the indie game Paranautical Activity, has issued an apology for the Twitter tirade and death threat that came from now former co-owner Mike Maulbeck and resulted in the game being removed from Steam. In the apology, which was posted on the Code Avarice blog by now full owner Travis Pfenning, the developer formally apologized to their own personal fans, the entire team at Valve and, most importantly, Valve CEO Gabe Newell.

In case you missed it earlier in the week, Maulbeck went on an explosive Twitter rant that culminated in him issuing a death threat to Gabe Newell after his game was inappropriately listed as being in Early Access when it was placed on Steam’s front page. The issue being, of course, that the game was in fact completed and seeing a game listed as Early Access is an instant turn-off for a lot of consumers. The circumstances of him being upset are completely understandable, but the explosive and threatening manner of how he publicly dealt with it is less so.

Warning: NSFW language ahead.


And in the quickly-deleted death threat tweet he also added:

Image Courtesy of Kotaku

Image Courtesy of Kotaku

The whole ordeal, as both Travis Pfenning and Mike Maulbeck were quick to point out, is further proof of the dominating control that Valve has over the PC game distribution market. It’s the game equivalent of Google in the fact that, now that the game is no longer available on Steam, it might as well not exist at all. Maulbeck also tweeted after the incident that Paranautical Activity sold a dozen games in the past day; the same amount of sales they had in a minute on Steam. Having their game removed from Steam, and the possibility that future games may also be blacklisted from the platform, puts the entire development team’s livelihoods in jeopardy.

Again, issuing a death threat is obviously the wrong way to go about handling a mix-up like this and Maulbeck has stated multiple times that it was a mistake, but Valve’s chokehold on video game distribution is a pretty glaring issue that does not really come to mind until an incident like this happens. There are similar services such as and The Humble Store (where Paranautical Activity is currently still available) but they don’t have nearly the market penetration that Steam does. As physical media and wide distribution are not an option for small pendant developers, they are more or less at the mercy of Steam and these smaller outlets.

The point could be made that of course a game developer was not going to literally kill Gabe Newell, so Valve should have just brushed it off. But a public threat is not something that is going to be taken lightly, especially from a developer aimed at such an important figure with someone he does business with. Just think if at your day job you said in a public forum that you were going to kill the CEO of your company’s distributor. That would not end well for you or your business’s reputation. However you slice it, however inane the tweet may seem at the time, you don’t throw around death threats in public like that.

Since the incident, Maulbeck has officially left Code Avarice and sold his half share of the company to Pfenning. As he stated in his own personal apology and resignation, he will no longer receive money from Paranautial Activity sales or any future Code Avarice games, and he will no longer have any sort of involvement with the company whatsoever.

Code Avarice’s full apology can be read below or on their blog post:

I want to issue a formal apology from Code Avarice to all of you, and the teams at Valve. Especially to Gabe Newell.

I am the other Dev of Paranautical Activity and co owner of the Code Avarice studio. Most don’t know that I exist. I have been recently affected by my now (ex) partners lack of civil control and inability to understand that words have consequences. I do not condone what he said. I do not believe he was in anyway justified or entitled to represent our company in this way. I extend my hand to all of you in hopes that you can understand, that to err is human. We have all done it, at one time or another. This is not to say that what Mike said is acceptable. It most certainly is not.

Since this has happened, I have been forced to realize how fragile my love for this business has become. With success comes hate in my experience, and I have never succumbed to such behavior. This was a real threat to my livelihood and ability to take care of my family. It makes me realize that because of what he said, many of you might hold this against me as I was his partner and now am the sole owner of Code Avarice. I should probably dissolve this company and re invent myself in some other guise. I am not going to do that. I am a strong individual and admit my short comings. This will not be treated any differently than anything I have ever been a part of.

I ask for support from those who really knew us as people. To stick with us if you really like the games we make. In the future. There will be a Code Avarice twitter account and no longer will game related things be dealt with on a personal account. Nor will we be part of any drama and negative trolling on any of these accounts. I need positive in my life now. Although I do enjoy a good trolling.

Regardless of all that has happened. Regardless that I am not the individual who misrepresented my beliefs and my business practices, and the views of my company. I am asking for legitimate forgiveness for me and my own. I ask you have empathy for two people who should have just stayed out of the spot light. Who should have known that saying things like this has very real life consequences.

In closing, I want to thank those who do support us. I want to thank Valve for the original opportunity to be a legitimate force in gaming. I also can not stress to Gabe how sorry I am for this situation. This is not how I do business. Hopefully Valve and Gabe will accept our apology. This is not a ruse to get back on the platform. This is a serious apology for poor behavior.

Be safe out there my friends, the internet is watching you. Much Love and Peace to you and yours.

Travis of Code Avarice

It is near impossible to tell if either apology is completely sincere of if Code Avarice is in full-blown damage control mode and understandably desperate to get their game back on Steam, but it’s safe to say everyone involved learned their lesson about Twitter explosions and the fact that everything you say on the internet can be read by anyone at any time.

If you are interested in supporting Code Avarice going forward, they have started a petition to get Paranautical Activity back on Steam. The game is also available through several other platforms, and as of this writing some of which still net you a Steam Key if you prefer playing on Steam anyway.

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