Warframe has been suffering a fair bit of controversy as of late, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing either. This current wave of backlash comes out of the Chinese fanbase for the shooter, which is currently embroiled in a wave of negative review bombing of the free-to-play game over several perceived slights. Firstly, there’s a major backlash over the way DE has handled the Chinese localizations of the game. Volunteer translators, pulled from within the game’s community, have offered support to help with translation efforts for years, but it appears as though the Chinese port of the game suffers from some exceptionally poor quality work. One volunteer, named Ji, compared the translation of Warframe to a machine translation, bemoaning its poor overall quality in multiple areas. This apparently resulted in a large number of Chinese users being rather angry with DE over the quality of the work, to the point of review-bombing the game on Steam.
Following this, and a lengthy post to Reddit, Digital Extremes made another controversial decision. In a statement that was posted to Reddit, which can be seen below, Digital Extremes communicated with Ji that they were being removed from the volunteer program for “sharing internal information”. Ji admits that they were in contact with regular players in the Chinese community over the matter. and this appears to have been ruled as out of bounds by the developer.
In Digital Extremes’ statement on the matter, posted September 16, they announced the change to the volunteer team as a result of this whole thing, saying:
“We do not remove people from our volunteer programs lightly, and such removals are made after great consideration. Our volunteers are provided with a list of program guidelines and a (recently-added) volunteer agreement that allow us to share unreleased information with them-sometimes a violation of these guidelines occurs, which prompts us to remind Tenno of them.”
But the translation issues being protested against by Chinese players are not the only sore spot, as some are taking issue with the game’s internal denotation of Hong Kong and Taiwan as “countries,” which is essentially a complaint about the common nationalistic belief in China and some areas abroad that Hong Kong and Taiwan are naturally part of Chinese territory, and should have what independence they do have revoked or restricted. This is an especially incendiary claim as a wave of radical protests, which some accuse of being backed by Western powers and being racially-motivated, sweeps through Hong Kong over a controversial extradition agreement. Taiwan is even more complicated, as it remains as the last sovereign territory of the now virtually defunct Republic of China, the successor state that formed after the exodus of the Kuomintang of China from the country following the rise of the Communist Party. That sovereignty, and territorial claims attached, itself is largely rejected by the international community, as only 14 countries within the United Nations recognize said status. The recent establishment of several countries formal relations with the PRC leaves the following nations as those supporting ROC: Belize, Eswatini, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Tuvalu. The Holy See also recognizes Taiwan.
These tensions go back decades, and are a constant source of struggle and strife, so it’s understandable that this issue is so controversial.
The spokesperson for Digital Extremes writes that “when multiple violations occur, removal from our volunteer programs is necessary.” Speaking to USGamer.net, the Warframe creator also responded to the wave of nationalist outrage that has stoked the controversy the game is currently dealing with by saying that, ‘Our Chinese community is very important to us and we’re continuing to work with them to listen to their feedback, address their concerns, and ensure their needs are met,’ the representative stated.
So while this whole thing seems like some pretty poor understanding and PR on the part of the developer, at least they’re making efforts to improve the situation, but only time will tell if they truly listen to the backlash and make positive changes.