Killing Floor has come a long way since its origins as a mod for Unreal Tournament 4. It became a full retail game in 2009, courtesy of Tripwire Interactive, and it has become a genuine cult classic with a devoted following. Now, a full decade after it first came together, Killing Floor is finally getting a sequel, due out later this year. Fans of the game will once again get to square off against waves of zombie-like creatures called “Zeds.” But, as with many multiplayer games, occasionally the worst enemies can be the other gamers.
Anyone who’s ever spent any time wearing headphones in the trenches of games like Call of Duty knows that people can be pretty horrible to each other when they’re on the other end of a microphone and safely anonymous. For the most part, that’s just a known risk, but one that can be easily muted or ignored. The folks behind Killing Floor 2, however, are taking steps to keep things friendly in their online world, and to prevent abuses such as cheating and cyber-bullying. Those defenses can, in extreme cases, lead to consequences that have some gamers upset.
Killing Floor fans recently noticed a clause in the game’s EULA (end user license agreement) that lays out some harsh penalties for gamers caught engaging in activities such as “‘griefing’, racist bigotry, sexism or any other forms of ‘cyber bullying.'” Just how extreme a spanking can Tripwire deliver in cases where these issues are a persistent problem? The Killing Floor 2 EULA states that Tripwire can yank a player’s game license without prior notice. The relevant section reads:
“If we find you are a Cheater or Abusive, we will revoke your CD key and ban you from the KF2 servers and tell your mom! Your license will automatically terminate, without notice, and you will have no right to play KF2 or any KF2 Mods against other players or make any other use of KF2. End of story.”
That potential threat rubbed some KF fans the wrong way, resulting in lots of debate in the game’s Steam forums. Some fans are even threatening to boycott the game, believing the EULA is at odds with basic notions of ownership rights. In other words, once they’ve paid for the game, the developer shouldn’t have the option to essentially revoke that purchase. However, other gamers point out that the terms of the Killing Floor 2 EULA are not substantially different from those of many other popular games and online services.
Tripwire Vice President Alan Wilson eventually stepped into the fray to sound off on the controversy. He started a new Stream thread where he pointed out that the EULA was “out in the open, so everyone can read it.” He then added:
“Just about ALL the games you are buying on Steam and anywhere else are actually a license to use. Yes, that is likely to become an issue in the EU at some point. Someone much smarter than me (probably at Valve, cos they’re all smarter than me) will work out how to handle that. If you are twitchy, because you’ve read our EULA — try reading everyone else’s! There’s some real horrors out there.
People are worried that we can ‘take your game away’. Well, yes, we can. We’ve sold around 10 million games over the last 10 years. We have, I believe, taken away games from about 2 people. One of those was later convicted as a hacker in court.”
That’s unlikely to sway the skeptics, but then again there probably isn’t anything that will sway the skeptics. This is a complex issue, and the notion of ownership is very much in flux in a world where physical media is more and more becoming a thing of the past. Game companies have a vested interest in keeping their online communities safe and welcoming, but the “nuclear option” of being able to revoke a player’s game license is also the sort of thing that will no doubt rankle some gamers regardless of how many times it’s couched as a rarely used weapon of last resort. Regardless, this isn’t a debate that’s likely to be settled anytime soon, in Killing Floor 2 or elsewhere in the industry.
Killing Floor 2 is in Early Access on PC and Linux. It’s also in development for PlayStation 4. GameRant’s early impressions of the game can be read here.
Source: PC Gamer