Ukrainian development studio Frogwares has defended a promotion that will allow three people to put personalised messages on an artillery shell, which will be fired at Russian forces.
To help give the Kickstarter campaign for Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened an extra boost after reaching its initial target in just six hours, yesterday (September 1) fans of the studio currently serving in the Ukrainian army offered to write personalised messages on three live artillery shells, in exchange for Twitter likes and retweets of the campaign.
“Our friends in the 24th Separate Assault Battalion will write a custom msg of your choice on [a] 152mm howitzer shell,” said the tweet from Frogwares alongside a video from the Battalion. “Message can be anything you want, but subject to our team’s approval. Winners will each get a photo of their message on a shell, proudly presented by our troops.”
Message can be anything you want, but subject to our team's approval.
Winners will each get a photo of their message on a shell, proudly presented by our troops. pic.twitter.com/b7vAYEui4N
— Frogwares (@Frogwares) September 1, 2022
However some people found the offer from Frogwares offensive. “Hey, video game marketers! Here’s ‘Using War to Promote Your Kickstarter 101’. Take notes! This is where I draw the line, folks,” wrote one Twitter user.
“This is disgusting. There’s still time to retreat and apologise,” replied another. “Games have always been a thing to unite various people of different nationalities, views and upbringing. What you are trying to do is just sickening,” added Helen Kei with another user writing: “Talk about being tone deaf. That shell has a non zero chance to land next to a civilian, that’s an unfortunate nature of artillery. So go ahead folks, donate your money to write some cringe text on something that will kill some kid.”
Thank you all for supporting us on #Kickstarter! ❤️
With the current state of production and the campaign's success, we should be able to release Sherlock Holmes The Awakened as soon as Feb 2023. That’s our aim.
Also, we have some new screenshots. pic.twitter.com/r0jp0SCweN
— Sherlock Holmes The Awakened (@SHolmes_Games) September 1, 2022
In a statement shared with PC Gamer, Frogwares defended the promotion.
“Please understand we as a team are literally in the centre of this war,” the studio said. “We have people on our team who have had their homes bombed into rubble. Some of us have lost relatives. Some of us are in occupied areas like Kherson where they are trying to annex the city [to] say it is now a Russian city. We have team members who fled their homes in Donbas in 2014 and then had to flee again in 2022. Others are actively fighting. Others have been forced to flee to countries around the EU and leave behind their families who couldn’t come with them.
“We are angry. We are hurt. Our entire lives were thrown into hell because of Putin who used the term ‘Nazi’ as a dog whistle against our entire population and sent his troops in.”
According to Frogwares, the soldiers in the video are friends of the developer. “Six months ago they were normal people living in Kyiv having normal day jobs, homes and families. After February 24 they decided they had to leave all that behind and signed up to defend their homes and families.”
Following the success of the Kickstarter (which ends tomorrow, September 3) Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is due to launch on February 2023.