Independent developer Digital Homicide is threatening to sue Valve over the removal of its games from Steam. The move comes in the wake of a separate lawsuit filed by the studio's co-founder, James Romine, in which up to 100 Steam users were hit with an $18m (£13.76m) suit over an alleged campaign of "repeated anonymous harassment".
As part of the initial lawsuit, Romine asked the court to subpoena Valve for the identities of the defendants. This drew a quick response from Valve, as it quickly removed Digital Homicide's extensive library of games which includes titles such as Forsaken Uprising and Starship Nova Strike.
In a statement to TechRaptor, a Valve spokesperson noted that the company has "stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers."
The developer appears to have taken the decision somewhat poorly, highlighting the widespread cull of its products as further evidence that it has a legal case against Valve.
A blog post on the Digital Homicide website claims that Valve has subjected the developer to "a long list of breach of contracts, interference with business, and anti-trust issues," but has held off pursuing the PC-giant in court due to the financial implications.
The blog post continues: "The case will benefit from a long list of organized documentation of events that have happened over the past 2 years including dates, screenshots, emails, and more on over 100 infractions in need of litigation," before it ends with a request for legal counsel.
News of Digital Homicide's original case against what it calls a "hate and harassment group" began to surface after YouTuber SidAlpha highlighted the lawsuit in a video and shared the court documentation online.
The $18m suit centers around the members of Steam group called "Digital Homicides". The group describes itself as "a dedicated consumer-advocacy group and censorship safe haven", with a focus on calling out low-quality games on Steam and Steam Greenlight - the latter described by Valve as "a system that enlists the community's help in picking some of the new games to be released on Steam."
The litany of offences leveled at members of the group is quite staggering, with up to 100 Steam users - with handles such as DemonSword, Nathos and Karl Pilkington (presumably not the comedian of the same name) - accused of belittling, stalking, criminal property damage, false accusations of impersonation, false accusations of theft and repeated mocking on Steam pages, as well as Reddit, Last.fm, YouTube and various other social platforms.
Digital Homicide has become notorious for the perceived low-quality of its games, alleged shady business practices and its increasingly frequent usage of litigation against its detractors.
The controversial studio hit the headlines in March after Romine decided to sue YouTube critic Jim Sterling - real name James Stanton - to the tune of $10m (which, according to Sterling, has now risen to around $15m). The suit, in which the plaintiff Romine claims that Sterling has caused "damage to reputation, damage to product, loss of product," and "severe emotional distress" through negative coverage on his YouTube channel, is still ongoing.
Sterling has been relatively quiet on the suit since it became public knowledge, although he posted a few cryptic tweets following the revelation of Digital Homicide's latest legal foray:
You can read the court filing for yourself here, although be warned - there are pages upon pages of screengrabs showcasing the 'offending' Steam users using pejorative-heavy language to describe Digital Homicide's catalogue of games.