Scum, a days-old survival title holding its own against popular titles such as Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, included Nazi imagery at launch. The offending images, part of a tattoo available only to those who purchased the $9.99 Scum Supporter Pack, have since been removed.
Publisher Devolver Digital has apologized and said it is reviewing the game for similar imagery.
In an already packed genre, Scum has rapidly made a name for itself among fans. The hype began days before launch when high-profile streamers were given access to the game before the general public. Multiple broadcasts helped rapidly rocket the game up the charts on Twitch. Two days before its launch, Scum sat in third place on Twitch behind the world premiere gameplay demo of Cyberpunk 2077.
The result of that hype was, according to publisher Devolver Digital, the most successful game launch that it’s ever had.
The Scum Supporter Pack went on sale with the game on Aug. 29. After that time, fans uncovered that one of the pieces of downloadable content — a full-face skull tattoo — included the numbers “14” and “88,” as well as an iron cross with a skull on the back of the player character’s head. Those images are common to Nazi or neo-Nazi groups, and were front and center in the player’s view, as the game is played from the third-person perspective.
It’s important to note that in the fiction of Scum players are taking on the role of convicted criminals. Prison populations are often informally structured through racial hierarchies, and racist tattoos are not uncommon. As part of character creation, players are in a way indoctrinated into the prison system. They are each given a criminal background, and the game itself represents a fictional world in which they fight other criminals for sport. The inclusion of Nazi symbology has, nonetheless, caused some outcry among fans on Reddit and Steam.
Launching the game this morning, we found that the tattoo had been revised to remove all three Nazi images. No notice was made in the game’s various patch notes or on social media.
Publisher Devolver Digital provided the following statement to Polygon:
Devolver Digital has become aware of tattoos representing neo-Nazi symbology in the newly released prison survival simulation game Scum. We do not agree with use of this symbology or any hateful content, regardless of intention.
The use of the tattoo was intended to assist in portraying a realistic element of prison culture and the horrid elements within it. This content has been patched out as of this morning, and Devolver Digital are currently conducting a full review of all assets and content in the game with Gamepires. We strongly condemn any and all use of hateful symbology in our games and agree it should have never been in the game regardless of creative intent or realism. Devolver Digital apologizes unreservedly.
As of this morning, images of the Nazi symbols in the DLC remain in the developer’s own marketing on social media.
This is hardly the first time that offensive imagery has been found and later removed from high-profile games. A similar controversy recently impacted the launch of Destiny 2 when a piece of armor including white nationalist symbology was included in the the game at launch. Developer Bungie was quick to apologize, calling its inclusion accidental.
Update (12:17 p.m. EDT): Developers at Gamepires, the 17-person Croatia-based team behind Scum, provided the following statement to Polygon:
Recently we patched out content from Scum that included neo-Nazi symbols. Our intention was to create an atmosphere of the worst of the worst criminals in Scum, and to portray the horrible type of people who would find themselves in a “fight to the death” situation for a futuristic reality show where the worst criminals are pitted against one another.
Since our initial response on our forums we’ve discussed this as a team and with our publisher and agree wholeheartedly that this content was unnecessary, should not have been included, and have removed it. We apologize for this misstep and promise to our fans that we will take more caution in our approach moving forward.
A Tweet including the Nazi imagery has since been deleted from the game’s official Twitter feed.