Popular modding site Nexus Mods has banned the user who removed the Pride flags in the PC version of Marvel’s Spider-Man, sparking an outcry that the site has actively disengaged from.
The original mod was called “Non-Newtonian New York,” and replaced the in-game Pride flags dotted around New York City with US flags. The mod garnered far more views than it did downloads, but its apparent anti-LGBTQIA+ stance naturally drew some controversy before its removal by site moderators.
Some users have claimed that the American flag texture was created by Insomniac as a replacement for Pride flags in Middle Eastern releases of Spider-Man. We’ve been unable to find any evidence that this claim is true. The American flag texture already appears throughout the game where appropriate, including the line of flags outside the UN building.
Nexus Mods says a “sock puppet account” with the 2004-era Urban Dictionary pun name “Mike Hawk” uploaded the file, and says “it was very clearly done deliberately to be a troll mod.” As the site’s managers explain in the announcement (opens in new tab), “had they not been a coward and had they used their main account instead, we would have simply removed the mod and told them that we did not want to host it.”
According to Nexus Mods’ file submission guidelines (opens in new tab), “content that may be generally construed as provocative, divisive, objectionable, discriminatory, or abusive toward any real-world individual or group, may be subject to moderation.” At a minimum, the flag replacer is certainly provocative toward real-world groups.
As today’s announcement from Nexus Mods explains, “In regards to the replacement of Pride flags in this game, or any game, our policy is thus: we are for inclusivity, we are for diversity. If we think someone is uploading a mod on our site with the intent to deliberately be against inclusivity and/or diversity then we will take action against it.”
Site managers add that “As a private business, we have a right to choose what content we do and do not want to host on our platform. Respect this right the same way you want respect for your rights.” The message concludes: “If this policy upsets you, if we’ve broken some moral code of conduct as a business that you can’t accept, then please, delete your account and move on, as we will.”
Spider-Man PC mods have been used for good – or at least less nefarious types of evil – too, letting you play as everyone from Kingpin to Uncle Ben’s headstone.