Subverse is the Kickstarter success story that crowdfunded over a million dollars with its promise of a sci-fi RPG with tactical combat where you get to be captain of a spaceship, recruit sexy alien companions, and then bang them. Since developers Studio FOW canceled plans to release Subverse in Early Access, players hadn’t actually seen gameplay of it yet—even though its first chapters (of which there will be 10) are due in early 2021.
So there was some anticipation around the exclusive first look reveal of its “Tactical Grid Combat, Waifus and SHMUP Gameplay!” However, that exclusive first look was granted to a YouTuber named Arch, a controversial figure whose commentary on the platform led to him being blacklisted by Games Workshop. As well as the complaints about feminism and how Warhammer and Star Wars have been ruined by SJWs, Arch has a second channel devoted to topics like Islam, immigration, and his right to use the n-word.
Arch used to post videos under the name Arch Warhammer until Games Workshop decided it wanted no association with the guy: it made him remove the word ‘Warhammer’ from his channel, and convinced World of Warships creators Wargaming.net to end their promotional relationship with him earlier this year in the midst of a program that brought Warhammer 40K-styled warships into the game. In a statement Wargaming said “we were specifically warned by Games Workshop not to work with this influencer, and agreed to it.”
pic.twitter.com/nanGwXbQgVJuly 3, 2020
That’s why, when the Subverse gameplay reveal was given to Arch as an exclusive, people were upset. When the video was posted to r/Games over the weekend there was such a backlash the mods eventually stated, “we will be automatically removing any future content made by this YouTuber to our subreddit.”
Subverse creators Studio FOW responded quickly and apologetically. Community manager FOWChan posted on Discord that, “We were not aware at the time that he had made racist and other controversial statements in the past” and “we did not look into his background as much as we could have, and we know now this was a mistake.”
However, that post was soon deleted and followed by one that reversed position, from the same poster FOWChan. They wrote: “In terms of the previous statement regarding Arch, we were bombarded suddenly with posts from different political groups, and as a result we acted in haste.” There was also an apology for the earlier apology, which was subsequently deleted (archived here): “We would like to make it absolutely clear, we have no problems with Arch personally. We simply wanted him to showcase some of our gameplay together, which Arch did professionally and he was very gracious with his time. We appreciate his time and want to say we are sorry for jumping into a politically charged situation so quickly. Subverse has no political affiliation, it’s a game to be enjoyed by everyone.”
The claims that “we have no problems with Arch personally” and “Subverse has no political affiliation” sit uneasily together. It’s worth being explicit about the kind of things Arch has said in the past. The Warhammer community doesn’t like him, and has previously collected a bunch of Discord leaks showing his language and views. Arch has blamed black people for slavery, as well as calling Asian people “ching chongs” and saying “god does hate yellow people.” He also dislikes travellers, lamenting that it “used to be possible to shot [sic] them” and referring to the Warhammer creatures Gnoblar as being the “gypsies” of that universe and a “sub-species.” In the same video, he goes on to say Gnoblar have slave-like qualities and calls them “house n*****s” (boasting that this term is something “for which this channel is rightly famed”, before subsequently de-listing the video).
PC Gamer reached out to StudioFOW for comment and received the following: “Thanks for your inquiry. We have no further comments at this time, and are excited to reveal more Subverse footage to the public in the coming months!”
Arch himself has claimed that his statements are part of his sense of humor. Reached via email, he told PC Gamer “Racism is absurd and therefore makes for a good joke because it is universally recognised as absurd, if you don’t view racism as absurd and don’t see obvious jokes for what they are then that’s your problem not mine.”
Partnering with a YouTuber to promote your game necessarily gives up some control over how people react to your product, but StudioFOW’s claim that it “has no political affiliation” is strained by the fact that it collaborated with a person who regularly produces reactionary, explicitly political videos. Between frequent discussions of Warhammer lore, in the past six months of Arch’s channel has published 10-minute monologues criticizing things like Games Workshop’s statement that “Warhammer is for Everyone,” celebrating the US government’s ban of federal agencies conducting racial sensitivity training, celebrating Trump’s threat to “destroy Twitter and other online platforms,” decrying that “White Lives Matter is now a controversial statement,” mocking Riot Games’ attempts to create a more inclusive workplace in the wake of a class-action discrimination lawsuit, and other incisive topics.