Gladiator management sim Domina has seen a rush of negative reviews over inflammatory and disconcertingly libidinal anti-mask rhetoric in the patch notes for its 1.3.18 beta update (opens in new tab). "TAKE OFF THE FCKN MASKS," it begins, "Next time you're at the grocery store, try showing a woman your face. Be confident, unafraid of the LIES –- you might get a girlfriend." Thanks man, but I'm usually there just to pick up some eggs or another carton of orange juice.
This is not the first time Dolphin Barn has apprised users of its… unique worldview in the patch notes for Domina. According to the 1.2.89 beta update (opens in new tab), "there's no accounting for weak men. Weak men lack character. Strong moral fibre is hard to come by. It's earned through hard work and sacrifice and it cannot be had via onlyfans or pornhub." It goes on to mention "succubus tiddy" and "wasting a load," but you get the idea. There are similar digressions offering a keyhole view of the writer's psyche sprinkled throughout Domina's official updates.
Domina has previously performed very well under user reviews, but the feedback has now turned "Overwhelmingly Negative." Domina seems like a lovingly-crafted game, and we were previously impressed by it, but turning the patch notes into a platform for spewing invective on retrograde gender politics and against broadly accepted public health measures has had a predictable effect on its reputation.
All the same, there's no such thing as bad publicity, and Dolphin Barn has certainly turned its game into news. Maybe this is a nice preview of the outrage-baiting guerrilla marketing we can look forward to from videogames in the 2020s. I, for one, can't wait.