from the crash-override dept
If you follow video game news as I do, you probably came across a fascinating and somewhat thrilling series of speculative stories revolving around a game called Spintires, which is being sold through the Steam platform. The driving game had been selling for some time, and selling fairly well, when all of the sudden it stopped working. Just like that, the game was crashing all over the place. Some sites, including this later-updated Gamasutra post, began digging into a wellspring of conspiracy theories about purposeful sabotage by the developer over money disputes with the publisher.
There may be something rotten in the state of Spintires, as the game’s players have taken to Reddit and its official forum recently to complain about alleged “time bombs” hidden in the code by the game’s developer that are rendering it unplayable.
The reason that a conspiracy theory like this found purchase rather than being laughed away was the rocky history between the developer of the game, Pavel Zagrebelnyy, with the game’s publisher, Oovee Game Studios. Just a week before the crashing of the game began, Zagrebelnyy had been participating in interviews with sites and offering up less than flattering comments about Oovee.
“They owe me a s***load of money according to our contract,” Pavel tells me in a new interview. “But I don’t have any leverage because my judicial skills are zero. I haven’t had a meaningful communication with Oovee for many months (maybe a year).”
Oovee, in the same post, acknowledges that it has been late in paying Zagrebelnyy, but promises that this will be corrected. A week later, the game of Zagrebelnyy’s that Oovee published is suddenly broken and unplayable. At that point, Oovee released a statement, acknowledging that the crashes were a widespread issue and stating that those crashes were “date-related.” The internet took that statement and ran with it, extrapolating it into a tale in which Zagrebelnyy had inserted time-bomb bits of code into the game that could be weaponized to cause it to crash on certain days or within certain date-ranges if he were so motivated, say by a lack of being paid by the publisher.
But that speculation and the conspiracy theory behind it then crashed upon comments from Zagrebelnyy and Oovee, which acknowledge to the theorists that, naaaah, it’s just another case of anti-piracy efforts fucking things up for all the legitimate customers.
Zagrebelnyy gave the following response:
“Well, I dont understand who and why started the rumours of sabotaging – apparently they are based on reverse engineering Spintires code? Anyways, publisher (Oovee) have the source codes so they know (they should) I didn’t sabotage Spintires – there is no such code! But there is in fact a time-related bug (a self-check uses time functions to see if game wasn’t cracked by pirates) which was not fixed in time (because we have little to no communicating with Oovee.)”
“We are aware of recent press speculation relating to sabotage of the spintires game by the lead developer Pavel. We wish to express our displeasure at this speculation and totally refute these and other recent allegations. It is a shame that some press are reporting this without talking to us, and even saying in some articles they are yet to talk to us. The situation on the bug is that we became aware of a major bug last week that caused the game to stop for some users.”
And so another conspiracy theory falls, this times at the hands of faulty DRM. I’ll put this here so nobody has to in the comments: never blame malice when incompetence is just as likely. Or maybe just blame DRM always and for everything. You’re going to be right a decent amount of the time.