Despite its rise in popularity, Poppy Playtime has found itself at the center of controversies and backlash. With accusations ranging from bullying to plagiarism, MOB Games’ higher-ups have answered and apologized for actions that may have tarnished the work of its developers, including those who may not have been involved in the issues. While Poppy Playtime has been out for just under a year, some of the old decisions made by MOB Games have plagued the title, and many of the controversies Poppy Playtime is part of stem directly from the content of the game.
[Warning: This article deals with sensitive topics.]
Poppy Playtime is an episodic indie horror game that takes place in the dilapidated Playtime Co. factory. The player takes on the role of a former employee searching for other workers who vanished a decade ago. During this search, players learn some dark secrets about the company and begin to discover that Playtime Co. made humans into toy monsters. Like Five Nights at Freddy’s, Poppy Playtime preys on the unsettled feelings that come with turning childhood nostalgia into nightmarish horrors.
Almost immediately upon its release, Poppy Playtime found itself in the midst of controversy. This has included nervous reactions from parents and even a police-issued warning about the character Huggy Wuggy following concerns regarding young children being exposed to the game. However, while some of the controversies revolve around in-game or game-related content, others are centered around the decisions and actions of MOB Games’ higher-up employees.
Poppy Playtime Has Been Accused Of Plagiarism And Bullying
The plagiarism accusations against Poppy Playtime developers are connected to two other controversies dealing with EnchantedMOB, an animation group partnered with MOB Games. The other two controversies both deal with an animator named Ethan, or Ekrcoaster, but the claims go hand-in-hand. First, Ethan claims that EnchantedMOB bullied him with its Animated Sins channel, frequently picking apart the mistakes he made in his animations on YouTube. Second, Ethan claims that he was sent sexualized images of his Minecraft character by EnchantedMOB when he was still a minor. Alongside these issues, there are additional claims that Poppy Playtime‘s developer sexualized FNAF‘s Circus Baby, whose soul inside the animatronic is technically that of a child.
The bullying is alleged to have occurred around 2017, but the statements are important in regards to the plagiarism accusations that came in October 2021 with Poppy Playtime’s release, as Ethan claims that MOB Games plagiarized his game, Venge. This led to MOB Games CEO Zach Belanger saying that the claims stemmed from past drama and that the Poppy Playtime creative team should not receive backlash for the previous interactions. However, the issue with these plagiarism claims is that both Poppy Playtime and Venge follow the currently popular indie trend of to taking childhood experiences and turning them into horror elements. Some players call Poppy Playtime the new FNAFso the themes of these games aren’t that unique.
Belanger’s response to the bullying accusations was an apology on behalf of the Animated Sins team. Seth Belanger also responded, but in a way that read as making excuses for the behavior instead of offering an apology. Belanger’s response, shared as a tweet by MobGamesStudios, explained that all of the parties involved were minors at the time and that it was just a group of friends having fun, not bullying. However, the explanation leaves a lot of issues unaddressed, including the problems with intent. While something may have been created as a joke, this does not mean the effect will not be hurtful or seen as harassment by the other party. By not addressing or acknowledging this fact, much of the statement reads as an excuse for potentially harmful behavior.
Poppy Playtime Introduces NFTs Causing Controversy With Players
Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, are also a heated topic in the gaming world, with game companies like Ubisoft implementing NFTs in its Tom Clancy series. Despite being warned by employees that adding NFTs to Poppy Playtime was not a good idea, MOB Games partnered with Sweet.io and went ahead with introducing them, using them as a paywall for extra lore. The backlash was immediate, with fans boycotting the game, requesting refunds, and spreading the word to get others to refund. Poppy Playtime as well. The response to this controversy from MOB Games was an apology, the decision to not include NFTs in-game, a promise to learn from this experience, and a pledge to donate the money it earned from the NFTs to the Clean Air Task Force.
Fearmongering Over Children’s Exposure To Poppy Playtime
While upsetting to some, many children love Poppy Playtime, and this love has left parents and police concerned due to the dark nature of the game – especially because it is a horror game not intended for a child audience. This type of accusation or backlash is fairly common with games that include childhood elements like the animatronics and pizzeria from FNAF or the toy monsters in Poppy Playtime. As they’re both horror games, they aren’t directed at young audiences, but the concerns that children will find videos about the games on YouTube are valid.
Controversies like this are more difficult to address than those mentioned earlier because it calls into question how much of the fault lies with developers like MOB Games versus the adult figures who are in these children’s lives. There is an inherent risk, when using the internet, that a child can be exposed to inappropriate content, and no single company has the ability to mitigate that risk alone. Once developers release their game, it becomes difficult to control who comes in contact with the content, and it’s up to parents whether or not they think Poppy Playtime is safe for their kids.
After accusations of bullying, plagiarism, and sexualization, as well as dealing with scaremongering over content, Poppy Playtime has garnered rather divided opinions. In regards to the controversies involving Ethan, MOB Games has not responded in the best way. Despite claiming that it was just friends joking around, Ethan felt targeted by Animated Sins and did not view their actions as being any type of friendly joke.
However, MOB Games gave a better response when it came to the backlash over NFTs and gave a true apology for the decision to create them. As far as the risk that children might be exposed to inappropriate content, it could be time for indie game developers to start a content rating system to help parents curate what games they want their children exposed to. This would help provide an educated understanding of what may be included in titles like Poppy Playtimeand better direct games to their intended audiences.
Next: Disturbing Poppy Playtime Chapter 2 Monster Theory Explained By MatPat
Source: MobGamesStudios / Twitter
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