Warner Bros. has issued a statement apologizing for the way the company handled a Middle-Earth: Shadow of War DLC meant to memorialize a deceased member of the Monolith staff. Warner Bros. clarified exactly what went wrong that caused such a PR debacle for the company, and will offer refunds for anyone who's purchased said DLC.
Last year, Monolith executive producer Michael Forgey died from a brain tumor. As a fond gesture from Monolith, the team there decided to create a DLC character named Forthog Orc-Slayer to commemorate their coworker.
The trouble arose when Warner Bros decided to sell the DLC for $3.99 with proceeds from each sale going towards Forgey's widow and children.
Controversy started brewing when the small print for the donation suggested that the publisher would only take donations from the purchases made in the US. This implied that sales from the rest of territories Shadow of War was to be sold wouldn't have the proceeds from the DLC going to the Forgey family. A tweet from Warner Bros. suggested this was true, though the company denied it.
The community started accusing Warner Bros of trying to profit from Forgey's death, something the company denied but didn't specifically detail as to why not. Now Warner Bros issued a new statement with the full details of why Warner Bros. handled the DLC situation the way it did.
Warner Bros wrote in its statement, "Specifically, we decided to sell the DLC worldwide and donate all profits from the DLC to the family. Although we decided to donate all profits to the family, we only planned to actively promote this donation in the U.S. (excluding certain states based on their charitable promotion laws)." The company hoped that this would maximize the amount of funds for the Forgey family without violating any laws.
Warner Bros. goes on to write that while it was always in the plans to donate all the funds from the DLC, specifically answering questions related to profits from the DLC raised outside the U.S. could have triggered compliance obligations or in violation of cause marketing laws in some of the countries the DLC was sold in.
To make matters more confusing, Warner Bros. laid blame on an inaccurate tweet for muddying the situation further. "[A] factually incorrect tweet from our team exacerbated the confusion by stating that international funds would not be going to the family. For absolute clarity; our intention was always to give all profits from the DLC, worldwide to the Forgey family."
Ultimately, Warner Bros. admitted tying a charitable donation to the amount of funds raised by a DLC was not the right way to proceed. As a result, the company is now offering the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC for free, and make a direct donation to the Forgey family. Anyone who purchased the DLC already will be issued a refund.
It's unfortunate to see a gesture made by Monolith to memorialize Forgey to be handled in such a manner, but thankfully the unpleasantness of the situation is finally cleared.