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World's biggest mod site bans mods replacing Pride flags: 'We don't want to and won't argue this with you'

The Pride flag with the sun shining behind it.
(Image credit: Getty images / Norberto Cuenca)
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Update: Another major mod site, ModDB, has also removed the mod and banned the users involved. A statement from ModDB has been added to this article.

Spider-Man Remastered (opens in new tab) recently launched on PC, and Insomniac's excellent web-em-up instantly attracted the attention of modders. This unfortunately included an individual who took offense at the game's rendition of New York City including some Pride flags among the absolute plethora of American ones. They created a mod that removed the Pride flags, replacing them with the stars and stripes, then uploaded it to Nexusmods using a sockpuppet account called "Mike Hawk."

Nexusmods (opens in new tab) is arguably the most popular centralised mod database online, with a nice clean look, a good community, and all the functionality a PC gamer could wish for. Nexus swiftly removed the mod, and banned the modder's sockpuppet and main account. The sanction led to some community drama about whether someone innocent had been punished. The people who run Nexusmods subsequently decided enough is enough when it comes to this stuff, and have addressed what went on in a new blog (opens in new tab) that sets out clear guidelines for the future.

We've now explained our stance and we won't be providing a platform for you.

—NexusMods

"The fact the user needed to make a sock puppet like a coward to upload the mod showed their intent to troll and that they knew it would not be allowed," said the site. "Had they not been a coward and had they used their main account instead, we would have simply removed the mod and told them that we did not want to host it, only banning them if they reuploaded it again after being fairly warned. The creation of the sock puppet removed any doubt and made it a very easy decision for us. Both the sock puppet account and the user's main account have been banned."

In terms of future mods that try to replace Pride flags in any game, Nexusmods' statement says, "If we think someone is uploading a mod on our site with the intent to deliberately be against inclusivity and/or diversity then we will take action against it. The same goes for people attempting to troll other users with mods deliberately to cause a rise. For our part, we will endeavour to do a better job of moderating our website to this ethos ourselves."

Nexusmods says it's not trying to set itself up as an authority on what modders can and can't do, but as a private company, it can and will choose what content it wants to host. The site has previously taken similar content down quietly, but today's blog draws a line in the sand that modders know not to cross.

"We don't want to and won't argue this with you," said Nexus. "We've now explained our stance and we won't be providing a platform for you to distort our position in order to feed an irrational and paranoid narrative. You can do that elsewhere, where we won't care enough to read it.

"If this policy upsets you, if we've broken some moral code of conduct as a business that you can't accept, then please, delete your account (bottom option) and move on, as we will."

Several hours after the Nexusmods blog post, another major mod host, ModDB (opens in new tab), also removed the mod and banned the users associated with it.

"ModDB is an inclusive environment for all and we do not permit targeting marginalised groups," said the site. "Our content moderation is largely automated but when identified, we have a zero tolerance policy for this kind of content."

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The majority of Spider-Man mods so far have been fun and amusing, though it's all early days at the moment and mainly character models and reshades. Among the first batch was one that turned the player character into Stan Lee (opens in new tab), a No HUD (opens in new tab) mod to drop the UI, and the Symbiote Black Suit (opens in new tab) mod. Most promising though is a Modding Tool (opens in new tab) uploaded by the prolific jedijosh920, which should make things easier for modders and users alike.

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."