Following harassment from players over Wolfenstein: Youngblood’s microtransactions, Mitja Roskaric, one of the game’s lead level designers, has deleted his Twitter account. The move came just a few days after Roskaric was forced to lock his profile to try to escape his harassers, but evidently felt that even that wasn’t enough to protect him from their vitriol. Wolfenstein: Youngblood released in late June to mixed reviews. Critics generally felt that it fell short of the franchise’s best, mainly due to its unfulfilling pace of progression and repetitive missions. Screen Rant’s review gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars, saying: "Wolfenstein: Youngblood is an entertaining game by its own standard, but it feels like its potential was wasted by decreasing the scope of what could have been an epic conflict."
Most reviews also mentioned the game’s inclusion of microtransactions as an odd choice, but not a particularly damaging one. Youngblood features a huge number of unlockable skins for armor and weapons, most of which can either be purchased with currency earned in-game or bought with real-world money. Only a small fraction of these skins were available solely by spending real money. These skins have no effect on gameplay, and for every public complaint made about microtransactions in Youngblood, there seemed to be at least one player saying that they didn’t even notice them until they were hours into the game.
Microtransactions were a small, in some cases nearly invisible part of Youngblood, but their mere existence was still enough to draw an angry reaction from some players. It’s not uncommon for some players to publicly criticize games for including microtransactions, but in this case, they took it farther than most. Just a few days after the game’s release, Mitja Roskaric announced that he was locking his account because of harassment over microtransactions, in a tweet that’s no longer accessible. A few days after that, he deleted his account completely. Other developers spoke out against Roskaric’s harassment, calling out abusive players over the all-too-common practice of launching personal attacks against the people who work on games they have some problem with. As Simon Cooper, senior technical director at the U.K.-based studio Ubisoft Reflections pointed out on Twitter, not only is it never appropriate to target specific developers like this, a lead level designer generally isn’t the one deciding to include microtransactions in a game.
Major feels for @MitjaRoskaric who's had to lock his account.— Simon Cooper (@scoop_cooper) July 29, 2019
He's taking flak from gamers because of Micro Transactions in a game he worked on.
He's Lead LD.
It’s impossible to say exactly why Wolfenstein: Youngblood, out of all the games with microtransactions, was singled out like this. However, it’s worth pointing out that this is a game about two young women fighting Nazis, released at a time when explicit anti-fascist messages and the simple inclusion of female protagonists can paint a target on a game’s back. As a tweet from games journalist and former Game Informer editor David Milner shows, complaints about microtransactions in Wolfenstein: Youngblood were sometimes paired with outrage over its content.
Gamers having an extremely normal one in the Wolfenstein user reviews. pic.twitter.com/AFeU79Soit— David Milner (@DaveMilbo) July 27, 2019
Whether microtransactions were really what provoked so much ire or they were just a smokescreen for something even more sinister, the fact remains that harassment like this falls far outside the range of acceptable reactions to disappointment over any piece of media. The gaming community should strive to do better.