Mellow Online1

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Mellow Online1 logo.png
Aliases None
Affiliation The Startup, TechRaptor (formerly)
Occupation Video Game Journalist

Mellow_Online1 is a British video game journalist and active Steam consumer advocate. He is actively working for The Startup as a writer. He previously worked at TechRaptor as a contributor posting articles from September 2016 to June 2019 with an announcement made about Mellow's departure being made on Twitter in April 2020.[1] He previously worked as the columnist for TechRaptor for their SteamWatch series of articles, centering on stories related to the Steam platform. Mellow continued the SteamWatch series on his personal Medium profile the same day as his departure releasing an article on the game Day of Dragons. Mellow is also the active owner of the Steam consumer advocacy community group Sentinels of the Store[2], one of the groups pushed by GamerGate and Kotaku in Action in an effort to push transparency towards gamers.[3]

Involvement in GamerGate

Mellow is actively a member of the GamerGate Steam group.[4]

Mellow's articles on both TechRaptor and Sentinels of the Store as well as his Twitter are frequently cited in GamerGate areas by users, typically when exposing behaviors that GamerGate stands against, such as censorship, deception, and dishonesty with gamers.[5]

In the years following GamerGate, Mellow has frequently defended the GamerGate movement against the likes of Zoe Quinn and the BBC as well as defending GamerGate supporters such as John Bain in the wake of ridicule following his passing.[6][7][8]


Mellow has received high praise across the gaming community for his journalistic integrity, predominately for him being unbiased in the pieces that he writes. This was exemplified in the first piece he wrote after leaving TechRaptor SteamWatch - What's Really Going on with Day of Dragons.[9] The article received wide praise and was promoted from larger YouTubers such as IGP, IcyCaress, and SidAlpha.[10] [11] [12]

Mellow has also been known to be very thorough in terms of evidence collation and is known to keep back-ups of evidence that could be used against certain parties. As an example, in February 2020, when the CEO of Panic Arts Studio was garnering criticism of allegations of racism, the Panic Arts Studio Twitter account posted a response to the claims and then quickly prviated their account leading to the post being inaccessible. Mellow was successfully able to obtain a copy of the notice and made it public, and this was the post cited in publications such as ScreenRant and CGMagazine.[13][14]

Response to Censorship

Mellow has been exemplified to be a strong anti-censorship advocate.

In August 2017, for TechRaptor's SteamWatch column, Mellow ran a story how the Steam game Supermarket Tycoon had been unfairly taken down to a fraudulent DMCA. In accordance to editor notes added to the article after publication, TechRaptor and Mellow had been contacted by an individual claiming to be the trademark holder and a third party developer which TechRaptor went on to disprove that put a request in for the article to be altered while communicating in a hostile manner. None of the outlined adjustments the trademark holder requested to be put in were added however.[15]

In October 2017, Mellow refused to comply when indie development company Tuttifrutti Interactive demanded an audio interview consisting of Ajish Habib (Tuttifrutti CEO) and Mellow be pulled from YouTube due to painting the company in a negative light despite legal action being mentioned if Mellow refused to comply. These came after Mellow posted a critical post of the company criticizing them for dishonest practices including vote boosting to get their game through the Steam Greenlight platform and their responses to criticism.[16] Nothing has yet to come of these threats, however.

In November 2017, YouTuber English Teacher Plays had a trademark violation notice sent to him by the developer behind the indie game Zombie Waiting after he had played the game on his YouTube channel.[17]Mellow was one of the first faces to come to English Teacher Play's defense citing how the trademark infringement report was not enforceable and was simply the developer's attempt at censoring a critical video.[18][19] Mellow's coverage of the story caught the attention of YouTuber SidAlpha who proceeded to signal boost the story.[20]

In December 2017, Mellow used the TechRaptor site to assist Steam publisher Henteko to defend himself against allegations that his game The Key to Home was geared towards a pedophilic audience which was later the reason Valve gave as to not wishing to distribute the game. The article was met with a widely positive response for allowing all parties to have a say in the story and not pushing any agendas onto readers.[21]

In February 2018, YouTuber IAmPattyJack posted a video heavily criticising the video game Super Seducer from RLR Training Inc.[22]Richard LaRuina, the CEO of RLR Training Inc. publically criticised IAmPattyJack's video on Twitter and proceeded to file a DMCA takedown to IAmPattyJack's channel over the video.[23] Mellow was one of the first people to publically ridicule Richard following the video going offline.[24]

In May 2018, YouTuber and indie game developer Zaxtor99 was faced with threats from Steam developer Sovkey that he would be mass flagging Zaxotr99's YouTube channel in order to get his channel taken down due to publications Zaxtor99 made of Sovkey games. Mellow made a piece on Sentinels of the Store publicly criticizing Sovkey and exposing the actions Sovkey had taken to the group members, including showing Sovkey attempting to bribe Zaxtor99 to take down the critical videos, showing how Sovkey had been changing the developer names on his products to minimize the public's perception of Sovkey's involvement with selected products and showing how Sovkey had been negatively review bombing Zaxtor99's own Steam games in an attempt to reduce the games' aggregated rating. In response to this, Valve banned Sovkey's reviews on Zaxtor's games and also banned one of Sovkey's games from the Steam storefront.[25]

Mellow has also been critical of censorship policies that Valve hold on Steam. Mellow was a prevalent critic in 2018 during what was known as the "Waifu Holocaust" where Valve had sent e-mails out to developers such as HuniePot (HuniePop's developer) telling them their games could face removal due to the prevalence of sexual content. In May 2018, Mellow made a post titled "Valve and Sexual Content Policies" where Mellow criticised Valve for their frequent inconsistent rule enforcement and cited several instances in the past within the post of examples such as how You Must be 18 or Older to Enter, a DOS-style game which had a plot centred on pornography addiction was banned from Steam but yet the game House Party that included full-frontal nudity and first-person sex scenes was allowed on Steam. Mellow also used a quote Gabe Newell made in a 2017 AMA when asked about adult content coming to Steam as further evidence showing how quickly Valve went against their original intention when it was voiced by Gabe Newell of intentions to allow adult games onto the store with minimal Valve interference when customers had sufficed tools to help navigate games effectively.[26] Two days later, Valve made the decision to reverse their decision and they had stated a different plan of action would take place, which turned into creating a separate adult-only area of the store, which seemed more in line with what Gabe Newell wished for in the AMA session.

Valve's consistency with rule enforcement has been a large criticism Mellow has consistently hammered frequently when it comes to controversies revolving around game removals Valve make. In the same month of May 2018, Mellow also levelled criticism towards Valve of the handling of the removal of the game Active Shooter, a game where you may play as a SWAT officer or a school shooter during a school shooting. Mellow criticised the public response Valve gave to the press citing how Ata Berdyev was the developer of the game and that he had previously been banned from Steam whereas Mellow provided solidified proof that Ata Berdyev was not the developer but instead an individual called Anton had developed the game and it was only Berdyev's bank details that were tied to the game as they had entered a partnership. Mellow then presented the theory that Berdyev was solely a scapegoat for Valve to use to easily remove a game that had been getting them in hot water. Mellow also criticized Valve for not originally recognizing Berdyev's bank details being tied to the game only after media companies had criticized the game and showed how Valve's hands-off approach led them to miss this banking details only when in Mellow's words they were actively seeking a reason to remove the game.[27]

Steam Activism

Mellow has been an influential figure in the Steam consumer advocacy scene and has been recognized for being behind several large scale developer removals from Steam and acting against customer-unfriendly behaviour in Steam's indie scene. Most notably was the outing of Silicon Echo and Zonitron Productions having released over 170 games on Steam over 15 different accounts in an attempt to conceal their involvement to customers. This lead to all 15 accounts to be banned and over 170 games to be removed from Steam in one swoop, which is currently the largest recorded Steam game ban in Steam's history.[28][29][30]

Some of Mellow's activism has made it towards some notable gaming headlines. In December 2017, Mellow collaborated with TechRaptor reviews editor Alex Santa Maria in a piece that was published on the game Game Tube in which the game was harbouring methods internal to the game in which users could get Steam keys for other higher priced titles, presenting a grey area in terms of Steam's rules.[31]

Mellow was also quoted in an article from Mirror in May 2018 in response to the publication of the controversial Steam game Active Shooter with Mellow, in reference to the game, saying "If this isn't a strong enough message to Valve showing them how low their bar is where an asset flip where you play as a school shooter and get points and are rewarded for killing students and cops exists on their storefront, I don't know what is."

In January 2019, Mellow published an article to TechRaptor criticising the Steam key system, primarily the rampant nature of developers revoking Steam keys from legitimate paying purchasers in response to disputes with distribution websites, namely OtakuMaker.[32] In the article, Mellow stated "I feel if these instances aren't enough evidence, what Valve needs to do is revoke the ability for developers to revoke masses upon masses of keys and put it instead on Valve's end to review these revocations before any action is done. This can not only save a new developer because they will not make any mistakes like the developers talked of in this post, but it will be good for customers as they can then not have to go through the hassle some of these users have had, spending extra time trying to get either replacement keys or refunds." The topic of the Steam key system has been a center point of many of Mellow's criticisms on more posts he made both on TechRaptor and on Sentinels of the Store.[33][34]

Rape Day's Removal

Despite Mellow's continued stand against censorship, in March 2019, Mellow gave a far more mixed response when it came to the game Rape Day and its removal from Steam. Mellow stated in a post he made talking about the game how he did wish for the game to be removed, not because of any offense taken towards the game's subject but more due to the fact the game violated Valve rules with regards to Mellow's belief that the developer behind the game was fitting of Valve's definition as a "troll developer." Mellow's belief was that the developer was a bad actor who solely made the game to capitalize on outrage purchases and in his post, Mellow showcases how creating games like Rape Day can lead to people recognizing it not as a game but more a political stance and people will buy the game solely because of what people perceive that the game stands for. In the post, Mellow stated:

"I'm someone that doesn't really care that much if something like Rape Day exists or not. If it's in violation of a store's policies (this includes store's outside of Steam) or if it violates a piece of legislation, then I'd say that the game has no place on the platform. And when I saw it release, I had mixed feelings about it, I was in the party that wanted the game pulled but it was for different reasons towards 99% of people that wanted it banned. This 99% were centred on "rape depiction in video games is a bad thing" in all honesty I personally don't have that much of an issue with this, and people are treating rape as a very sensitive topic, which don't get me wrong, it is, but within a video game, as a piece of entertainment medium then I feel like leeway can be given. I recall having conversations about the game with some friends of mine that argued to me against this game saying that if I had a relative or friend of mine raped, then I'd be calling for the game to be banned to and they tried to use that as justification. To that, I asked if you had a family member shot and killed, would you be against guns and murder depiction in video games. If we go with that logic, almost every game in existence will be banned. If you had a family member kidnapped, will you take a rise up against the Super Mario Bros series because Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach?"

However, Mellow did go on to criticize Valve's reasoning and justification towards Rape Day's removal, saying how Valve's public reason of "imposing unknown costs and risks" was both "annoying to read" and "counter-intuitive to the work Valve has done the past few months." The comment section indicated a mostly positive response towards Mellow's comments with a small minority of members disagreeing with what was said.[35]

Penguins Cretins & Steam Game Swaps

Mellow and his group Sentinels of the Store received wider media attention in June 2020 when Mellow signal boosted an article from the outlet MMOFallout with regards to a game called Penguins Cretins.[36][37] In both articles, Connor of MMOFallout and Mellow showcase that the game Penguins Cretins had previously been swapped out in its entirety and that Penguins Cretins was previously a completely different game going by the name of Aiball:Drunks. Mellow's article grabbed the attention of business and contract lawyer Richard Hoeg of the YouTube channel Hoeg's Law and Richard made a statement believing that Valve and the developers, HFM Games, could be in violation of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.[38]

Following Richard's video and Mellow's article, Mellow was pushed many more examples of the same game swap happening with other titles on Steam, and so Mellow did a second article discussing the findings of Richard's video, the legalities of the topic and also further examples of game swaps on Steam and showing how long it had been going on for.[39]Following this article, the story got picked up by the wider mainstream games media.[40][41][42]

While initially, Valve was dismissive of the incident surrounding Penguins Cretins, citing the early access label as warranting any changes to the game, Mellow reported after continued community pressure that Valve was to be giving the game and the developer a second look. 5 days after this report, Penguins Cretins store page got reverted back to Aiball: Drunks, almost 2 years after the initial change and the developer made a statement after over 3 years of silence stating "The change of name of the game was due to a change of character, which was also based on physics. This is an early version of the game that is changing during development. But, as we see, people who bought Aiball do not need any penguins, so we are returning the old name and version of the game."

Mellow made a final post on the topic criticising the response HFM Games issued, with Mellow believing Valve interference led to the game changing back to the original form, however, HFM Games has gone on to deny this allegation.[43][44]


Mellow has on a number of occasions exposed secretive information that can be deemed unethical from game developers and publishers.

The most noteworthy example would be when Mellow publicly leaked a private contract from Steam publisher SakuraGame/Paradise Project that was given to him from a developer that SakuraGame approached.[45] The contract exposed an alternative trade name that SakuraGame had used by the name of Chengdu Love Plus Technology Co. Ltd and how they were approaching developers making demands for SakuraGame to gain access to thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of keys for a very low monetary payout from SakuraGame in terms of what they were requesting. Mellow also highlighted how the contract was seemingly incredibly unfair for developers and how in Mellow's own perceptions of other e-mail exchanges between SakuraGame and the anonymous developer how SakuraGame were being predatory on the developer in further attempts to make them agree to the contract.

See Also

Tech Raptor