Lawsuit Against Games Critic Jim Sterling Dismissed With Prejudice

"One random critic in a sea of them having a stupid fight with a pair of brothers who don’t make a lot of sense and whose claims have a strained relationship with reality."

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A lawsuit filed against independent games critic Jim Sterling in March of 2016 was dismissed with prejudice this week.

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Game developer Digital Homicide filed a suit against Sterling to the tune of USD$10.76 million in product, emotional, reputational, and financial damages, accusing him of "assault, libel, and slander" based on his coverage of its games. According to court documents, Sterling "published untrue critiques of [Digital Homicide] video games that constitute actionable libel." In September, Sterling claimed that the lawsuit had been increased to $15m.

Sterling covered multiple Digital Homicide games, but according to Kotaku, the trouble all started with his video "Slaughtering Grounds, New 'Worst Game Of 2014' Contender." This resulted in the developer publishing an incensed "reviewing the reviewer" response in a now-deleted video that Sterling archived on his own channel.

This back-and-forth continued for months, until Digital Homicide filed its suit, alleging that Sterling "falsely accused [Digital Homicide] and caused damage" to the company, with "continued coverage and harassment of every single title we have ever posted." This wasn't the only suit filed by Digital Homicide, either. According to a report from Motherboard, the company also attempted to sue 100 individual Steam users, resulting in Valve removing all Digital Homicide titles from its platform.

After nearly 12 months, the case was formally dismissed with prejudice this week, following discussions between Sterling's lawyer and the plaintiff, Digital Homicide's James Romine. A dismissal with prejudice means that the plaintiff is unable to bring an action on the same claim, protecting Sterling from any further legal proceedings based on his past coverage of Digital Homicide titles.

Sterling released a statement confirming the dismissal, viewing it as an attack on his freedom to do his job. "I personally viewed, and still view, the lawsuit as an attempted attack on my freedom to do my legally protected job. I personally perceive it as an attack launched by a man who is unable to deal with criticism in a reasonable fashion and has sought to blame me, continuously, for his failures."

He went on to say that he finds the very existence of the lawsuit grotesque. "That you can be made to spend that much money and effort defending yourself from spurious claims should be a worrying prospect for anybody whose job involves saying things that some people aren’t going to like."

The full statement is available on Sterling's site. Digital Homicide has yet to make a formal statement on the dismissal.

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