MechWarrior Online developer Piranha Games has apologized to players and reversed the decision to forcibly rename two teams ahead of the latest MWO competitive season.
According to a Reddit thread posted by team member Daalpacagirl, the teams were named "KDCM V: Trans Rights" and "KDCM VI: Trans Fights" to express support for trans players. Shortly after the competitive queue opened, the leaders of both teams were informed that "Trans Rights" and "Trans Fights" had been renamed by the studio.
In an email sent to one of the team's leaders, a customer support rep said that while the studio forbids intolerance of any type, MechWarrior Online is not an "appropriate environment" for "real-life political discussions," which is why the team names were changed. Daalpacagirl emailed Piranha Games about the ruling and was at first told essentially the same thing.
As the conversation continued, however, the GM involved said the studio had also received reports about Daalpacagirl's "in-game conduct concerning actions that are viewed as detrimental to other player's and the general gameplay experience."
But they finally told me what I had been doing wrong! Unfortunately, it also came with a suspension. That "while real-life political discussions are important, we do not believe this is the appropriate environment for such discussions" line, though? 4/ pic.twitter.com/YLMsnOgFR4October 3, 2021
Eventually the GM clarified that the offending action was her habit of typing "trans rights" at the start of match. At the same time, they suspended Daalpacagirl's account for 48 hours, and warned that continued violations would result in a permanent ban.
Piranha co-founder Russ Bullock initially expressed support for the decision, saying on Twitter that "trans" and other words were banned because of abuse from "bad trolls."
"Sucks that bad trolls who we have spent significant resources dealing with are out there, everyone remembers some of the past large examples," he wrote. "It's fine to be disappointed and with PGI could have somehow found a way around this tough situation but it's disingenuous to immediately call PGI anti trans etc. Unfortunately bad apples create situations that limit choice for the larger group."
Bullock's explanation did not go over well with a number of players.
"Telling trans people to suck it up, you're gonna have to deal with being invisible because other people are assholes isn't a response for inclusiveness or support," one player wrote. "It's the response of people who don't give a shit about trans people."
In an announcement posted today, live operations manager Matt Newman said that Piranha Games got it wrong. "Moderation action was taken to rename a competitive team using the names Trans Fights and Trans Rights," he wrote. "This was not the correct decision. We should have asked more questions and determined the true intent behind the name selection, and those having issues with them.
"Our actions obviously hurt and offended people, I apologize. We will do better. With the understanding that trans rights is not a political issue, we will allow the team to use either of their original choices as their team name. Additionally, we will be reversing any moderation actions taken in connection with this moderation."
Following Piranha Games' reversal and apology, Daalpacagirl expressed appreciation for an "outpouring of love and support" for the teams, but wasn't ready to hand it to the studio for changing course.
"I'm glad they seem to have reversed their position, but that it too some amount of (potential) public pressure to get such a response combined with their (apparently quite long) history of not doing a whole lot to stop harassment, doxxing, and bigotry in the community do a great deal to temper my hopes and expectations going forward," she tweeted. "In the meantime, though, I'll be happy to go back to playing MWO with my friends, maybe with a little less stress this time around."
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.