MOBA Network, an esports communities company, has acquired controversial gaming forum ResetEra for $4.5 million USD.
GamesIndustry.biz reports the initial payment of $3.55 million USD was made when the deal was closed, and the last million will be paid by the end of 2021. The website was initially going to be sold for $700,000 USD in the twelve months prior to August 31st.
The current staff will remain, but now under new leadership. MOBA Network state they are looking to “increase advertising revenue through a higher share of direct sales, implementation of new ad formats, and a long-term product development strategy.” MOBA Network’s other forums include Dotafire.com, Smitefire.com, and Leaguespy.net.
The forum was found in 2017; formed after NeoGAF’s entire moderation staff left when owner Tyler Malka was accused of sexual assault. Along with the exodus of many users, the former moderators and some community members launched ResetEra. It has reportedly amassed 55,000 members, and racked up 45 million posts among them.
ResetEra has built a somewhat interesting reputation, as did NeoGAF before it to a lesser extent. As stated on Know Your Meme, “ResetEra has been mocked by various hubs online for what they see as catering to SJWs with oppressive and sometimes contradictory banning policies.”
The moderators had banned discussion of GamerGate; a “consumer revolt” against unethical games journalism that some had characterized as a harassment campaign against women. This was while journalists of most major gaming outlets- accused of collusion and failing to disclose conflicts of interest- had ResetEra accounts.
Several localizers and translators were also members of the forum, with interests in censorship or unnecessary changes made during a games localization coming to the forefront during GamerGate. Around 100 developers for major companies (Sony, EA, Microsoft, Square Enix, and more) and nine publishers were also accused of having accounts.
Users cannot use free email addresses when signing up for a ResetEra account (“Most ISP, school, and professional emails are welcome”). As such, this creates a stricter policy on who can enter the forum. Thanks to this “upper crust” of games development populating ResetEra, their members have been accused of attempting to manipulate games’ development and reception.
We looked into whether ResetEra had provided false feedback on Persona 5, based on their perceived bigotry of the game’s director Katsura Hashino. Atlus US had previously announced comic relief scenes with two gay characters would be censored in Persona 5 Royal to avoid causing offense. Even after the changes were revealed, some of the forum’s users felt it still relief on harmful stereotypes.
One user was also behind the review bombing of A.I. The Somnium Files on Metacritic. While ResetEra members initially suspected it was another group review bombing over a positive LGBT scene in the game, it was later revealed to be one of their own.
During their confession, they stated it was to show how easy it was to manipulate user review scores on Metacritic. However, the confession later noted they had “a massive crush on [the character A-Set] due to my general attachment issues,” and hated the game because of “how it basically ignores everything said videos were trying to build up.”
Even fan-works have drawn the ire of ResetEra. A fan translation of Goemon 3 used the word “tranny,” and while indicative of the time and the tone of the scene, some users of Twitter and ResetEra took extreme offense to it; dog-pilling the translator with abuse. After a public apology, the translator seemingly deleted his online presence, and indicated the incident “crushed [their] passion for translating.”
The project had up to that point allegedly taken “4 years of work,” and $400 USD “worth of research material for accurate translation.” Eventually a slur-free patch was released, and despite being offered along side the original, the latter was scrubbed.
In spite of this reputation and moderators being mocked as strict and inconsistent, ResetEra has seemingly become the place for developers and publishers to talk about games; along with those who have strong opinions on games and media. Whether it truly is a hot-bed of influence, or just a place for geeks to hang out, at least someone thought it was worth $4.5 million USD.