The developer of State of Decay 2 and the upcoming State of Decay 3 got in trouble when it accidentally seemed to be defending Nazis earlier this week. Undead Labs recently apologized for confusion around the game’s “Punches Nazis” trait, as well as appearing to block criticism of the game.
The drama began with Steam Marines 2 developer James Seow live-tweeting his playthrough of State of Decay 2. While playing, he recruited a survivor with the rare Punches Nazis trait, which grants four stars of fighting experience but makes them irritable toward fellow survivors. The intended idea was that someone who punches Nazis also has strong personal and political beliefs, and that the latter might lead to arguments with other survivors.
However, the description only explicitly mentions irritability. The damage boost is indicated by a vague “Effects Skills” tag. Given that lack of clarity, someone could easily interpret the trait as inherently negative. The description also seems to equate violence against Nazis with having an unstable personality, which did not fly with Seow. He messaged the developer and State of Decay 2 accounts on Twitter and was blocked from both, creating the perception the studio was trying to bury criticism. This drew more attention to the issue and encouraged Seow to press harder.
According to Undead Labs, a subsidiary of Xbox Game Studios, the controversy is nothing more than a series of misunderstandings. A representative said that developers created the trait before the studio even began working on State of Decay 2. A designer on the team shared anecdotes about hanging out in the underground music scene and punishing a Nazi in a mosh pit. The developers fell in love with the idea, and the trait was born.
The studio claims it always intended Punches Nazis to be a 100 percent positive trait in State of Decay 2, but Undead Labs acknowledged that the trait’s description did not do a good job of communicating that, and will be changing the trait to better reflect this. It also apologized for blocking Seow, attributing that to an automated system designed to screen for hate speech and profanity. The studio claims it never intended to suppress criticism of State of Decay 2.
Seow does not seem impressed by what he calls “corporate damage control,” and wonders why it took a week of public outcry to get a response. In a tweet, Seow said he would have gladly accepted the technical explanation had it been given when the controversy initially began. Instead, it came after eight days of pressure from himself and others.
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