Notorious indie developer, Digital Homicide, has announced a lawsuit against gaming critic Jim Sterling.
Sterling and Digital Homicide’s feud began in 2014, when he covered one of their games, The Slaughtering Grounds, in a first impressions video that was very critical of the game. Sterling’s critiques included stolen artwork, ill-fitting asset models, an inconsistent art direction, incompetent programming, and an inconsistent frame-rate. The description of the video described the game as “another absolute failure.” In retaliation, Digital Homicide released a video mocking Sterling’s playing abilities and repeatedly used the phrase “I’m Jim F–king Sterling, Son.”
The situation escalated with a series of YouTube videos from both parties mocking the other, which eventually culminated into a DMCA take-down Strike against Sterling’s first impressions video. Digital Homicide justified the take-down stating,“The DMCA filed is not to censor review’s [sic]” and “There are countless negative review videos posted (including multiple sterling videos) and only one in particular with a DMCA filed on it. The reason is we have a legitimate claim, we can prove a violation of our copyright (fair use is not blanket immunity) and damages.” Despite this, Sterling was able to bring the video back online.
The two parties eventually agreed to a Skype conversation where Digital Homicide could confront Sterling with their reservations. In the exchange, Digital Homicide developer Robert Romine warned Sterling that “One day, you’re gonna have enough subscribers, you’re gonna make enough money on your Patreon thing and somebody’s gonna get tired of your sh-t and they’re gonna sue you. I’m not saying we are, I’m saying somebody’s gonna have the money to do it and they’re gonna win.”
According to Sterling, shortly after the Skype conversation, Romine later called him to “come to an understanding.” In the phone call, Romine expressed his intentions in suing Sterling if he continued to cover their games. Romine cited an article in which Sterling called one of their artworks stolen, when it had actually been bought from Shutterstock. Despite the fact that Sterling had corrected the article, Romine claimed that in Arizona, even a corrected article is grounds for defamation. Sterling then claims that when he told Romine that he would need to consult his legal counsel, Romine responded that he would see Sterling in court.
Digital Homicide will be representing themselves in the suit. They don’t have an attorney, but they had attempted to crowdfund the suit. Digital Homicide then took down its crowdfunding request “due to harassers donating amounts specifically to cause charges rather than donations and charge backs to cause financial fees…[W]e will be seeking another avenue for donations.”
Sterling has been mostly mum on the suit. He claims to be in high spirits and is “fully confident” in dealing with the lawsuit.