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Chilly reception for marijuana tycoon game shows games industrys backwards stance on drugs

Intense and graphic violence is something weve come to simply expect from games, but sexual and other adult themes are still largely taboo including, as publisher Devolver Digital is learning, drugs. Even if the game in question is a relatively serious tycoon-type look at the current (and legal!) business of selling weed.
Devolver is no stranger to controversy; it has published and helped develop dozens of games and many of them have featured the kind of graphic violence that sets off those who still see the medium as a corruptive, fundamentally debased one. And to be fair, the likes of Hotline Miami arent going to change any minds.
But for the companys first original commissioned IP, it had the idea of assembling a game in the popular tycoon genre, but focused on the emerging and popular sector of growing marijuana.
Obviously this is somewhat controversial, but the plant is legal in many states and countries already and on its way in plenty of others. This isnt the time or place for a full evaluation of the scheduling system and the war on drugs, but it suffices to say that it is a complex and interesting business ecosystem thats teetering on the edge of widespread acceptance. That makes it a bit edgy, but also fresh and relevant perfect, Devolver thought, to build a game around. So they made Weedcraft, Inc.
Chilly reception for marijuana tycoon game shows games industrys backwards stance on drugs

Unfortunately, the companys co-founder Mike Wilson told me the other day, they underestimated how square the gaming industry is.
This is definitely the hardest game Ive had to market, and thats saying something, Wilson told me. It has been a fucking nightmare. The fact that were still so afraid of a topic like weed instead of the murder simulators you can market any time, anywhere, its shocking.
Console game stores were reluctant to even carry it, and warned Devolver that it would never be featured, which is a death sentence for a games discoverability. They couldnt get ads approved on Facebook or Instagram, and the person who submitted them even had his account suspended. And just this week, streamers trying out the game on YouTube had their videos demonetized.
The only stores that didnt buck were Steam, which is largely content-agnostic, and GOG, a popular DRM-free storefront.
Why, though? This isnt a game about smoking blunts or cutting dime bags with oregano to sell to middle school kids.
Chilly reception for marijuana tycoon game shows games industrys backwards stance on drugs
Well, it is a little pro-legalization.
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