Warframe Faces Criticisms, Review Bomb Over Chinese Translator Controversy

After a respected volunteer translator was let go, Chinese fans showed their disdain with Digital Extremes.

Free-to-play co-op game Warframe has come under a “review bomb” recently due to a dispute involving its volunteer localization staff. It appears developer Digital Extremes let go of a volunteer Chinese translator after some infractions, according to posts by the translator himself, who was well-known within the greater Chinese Warframe community.

The review bomb, or a barrage of negative reviews intended to skew the game’s ratings down, started on Sept. 13 and continues to the time of this writing.

Around that time, the volunteer translator, “Ji,” posted a “farewell” explanation as well as the full termination letter. It seems he was let go from the project due to a number of mixed workplace violations. The more “contract”-related reason would likely be his breaking of nondisclosure agreement (NDA) protocols — leaking information about Warframe development before release. However, DE also claims he posted insults about staff.

Ji posted not only the letter, but also a long list of grievances about DE and the events. One such post was originally on another forum and translated to the Warframe subreddit. Ji himself posted his own version as a separate topic as well. Namely, the volunteer went onto public forums and admitted the translations were poorly done. He also outright said on these forums that they appeared to be machine translated, but that he didn’t have the authority to change them. Ji claims when he brought it up internally, he believes one of the DE staff felt insulted as a result.

Since the incident escalated, the Steam user review bomb has continued. Most are focused on the situation itself, naming the popular translator. But some also bring up recent territory disputes — namely those of Taiwan and Hong Kong. On the Warframe website, according to the reviews, you can select Taiwan and Hong Kong as “countries” or “regions” unique from China.

You May Also Like:

Both have had tensions with mainland China regarding their sovereignty relative to the Chinese government. Hong Kong especially has been caught up in disputes regarding China’s authority over the region, leading to over three months of massive, widespread protests that continue in different forms to this day. (Today marks the 100th day of such protests.) Many who support China, dubbed as “loyal to Beijing,” believe these regions should stay loyal to China per tradition.

It was also noted on the older Reddit thread that access to the Warframe forums was restricted from mainland Chinese users. Attempts to visit the site are met with “user error 403,” or an “access denied” error.

[Update: 09/20/2019]

Fanbyte reached out to Digital Extremes for comment. We received the following official response from Digital Extremes PR a few days after this article went live. It reads as follows:

Thanks for reaching out to us. Earlier this week our Community team addressed the incident that spurred the negative reviews on Steam and you can read our full statement here. https://forums.warframe.com/topic/1128157-a-volunteer-translator-was-treated-unfairly%EF%BC%81/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-11032728

Since then, Steam has decided to mark these reviews off-topic, explained by hovering over the asterisks on the review page here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/230410/Warframe/

Our Chinese community is very important to us and we’re continuing to work with them to listen to their feedback, address their concerns, and ensure their needs are met.

–Digital Extremes

[Original Story Continues…]

The Steam store for the free-to-play game records all-time reviews as “Very Positive,” with over 280,000 user reviews.  However, recent Warframe reviews are “Mixed” now due to the review bombing.