Weedcraft Inc. has already conquered the United States, but Facebook and YouTube are throwing sand in players’ wheels.
As you are aware, advertising drives sales. And games are best advertised on the internet, including platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, which according to the authors' of a Polish game about growing and selling marijuana (it was released on 11 April 2019), unfairly violated their right to advertise it to the detriment of the product. Sputnik has spoken about this with Grzegorz Mazur, the founder of Vile Monarch and co-author of Weedcraft Inc.
"Weedcraft Inc. delves into the world of the production, cultivation and sales of marijuana in America, offering a player a detailed insight into the financial, political and cultural aspects of the country's turbulent relationship with an embarrassing but promising plant" Grzegorz Mazur said. "The game is aimed at fans of economic tycoon games, but also at those interested in the topic of marijuana, not necessarily people who use it", he added.
The game is available in several language versions — English, Polish, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian variant), and French. Weedcraft Inc. is quite popular in the United States (the distributor is Devolver Digital, is a well-known game publisher). It is interesting that during the game a player is faced with the choice of how to develop their own business — to work legally or illegally.
The creators of Weedcraft Inc. make no secret of the fact that they had some concerns they'd be accused of "trying to promote themselves in a cheap way".
"We expected that there might be voices saying that we are trying to create cheap advertising for ourselves, but fortunately, there were few of them. The game was well received by players and the media, as we had approached the subject seriously and professionally. People involved in the marijuana industry in the United States took part in the creation of the game", Mazur told Sputnik.
However, another problem appeared — even before the official release of the game obstacles arose in promoting the game on the internet.
"The troubles with the promotion started before the release, because Facebook blocked the display of ads with the name of the game. We were struck with a double blow on the day of the release when Facebook rearranged our account and YouTube blocked our ability to show ads for the game in videos. Moreover, if, for example, a YouTuber wants to share impressions of the game in a video, they may lose advertising profits. In turn, this may discourage them from creating reviews or gameplays for the game. We're losing one of the important communication channels. Another problem was Corle 1, a Polish YouTuber (128,000 subscribers), who was forced to remove his video after a negative reaction from one of his sponsors", Mazur continued.
As the Weedcraft Inc. team explained, after an information campaign in the media, Facebook announced that the blocking was the result of an "error" that would be eliminated. YouTube, meanwhile, has continued to stick to their guns, pointing to their regulations prohibiting "drug propaganda".
According to the game's creators, however, it is not the promotion of marijuana that is the goal of this project.
"The game is a comprehensive understanding of the status of this plant in the framework of modern culture. After all, its use for medical or other purposes has been legalised in many European countries (medical cannabis is allowed in Poland, Canada and in many parts of the United States). Moreover, YouTube allows the inclusion of drugs and medicines in an educational or artistic context. Therefore, we insist that at least one of these criteria applies to Weedcraft. Inc. (the same concession is used by documentaries, which we used when creating the game)".
The game's developers consider the discrimination against their product unfair, calling it simply hypocritical. Their position is that there are so many controversial and amoral games in the world, but no one forbids their promotion.
"Popular games based on violence don't cause such great controversy as Weedcraft Inc, whose main topics are business and politics. We don't cultivate the use of the above-mentioned plant as well as we don't demonstrate violence (it's worth emphasising that nowhere in the game is it shown or said that the avatar of the player used marijuana). We reckon with the opinion of people who believe that ‘weed' is evil, but we cannot agree that it is worse than murder, which is prevalent in many modern games", the creators of the game said.
The authors of the project are not giving up: they're going to promote the product through all available channels, including Twitter, Instagram, Steam, Twitch, as well as on gaming community forums. And although YouTube imposes restrictions on such videos, some of the platform's users are still supporting the project.
"Some users continue posting YouTube videos about the game, for which we are extremely grateful", Grzegorz Mazur said.
"The release of the game doesn't end our work on it. There are still many areas related to marijuana trade that we could use to spice up the gameplay. Thus, we are planning to introduce several patches and additions that will expand the content of the game and attract new players. We have ideas for developing the game and transferring it to new platforms. We are not ruling out creating a franchise in the future", Kacper Kwiatkowski, the co-founder of Vile Monarch, said.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.