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Warner Bros. Make Shadow Of War's Charity DLC Free After Controversy

Will make a separate donation to Mike Forgey's family.

What started as a wonderful sounding memorial and tribute to one of the developers behind Middle-earth: Shadow of War turned sour very quickly at the start of September. Mike Forgey sadly passed away from cancer in March of this year, and so Warner Bros. decided to create a charity DLC so that fans and players could donate money to his family.

It went off the rails as soon as it was revealed that only $3.50 from every $5 purchase would go to the family – presumably once the storefront has taken its 30% cut – and that while the DLC would be available worldwide, Warner were only saying that purchases within the US would go to the family. In a statement released last night, Warner have now reacted to the controversy by apologising, making the DLC free and making a separate donation to the Forgey family.

Discussing this between our writers at the time, it turns out Tuffcub was right on the money, noting that advertising charitable funds across the world means you suddenly have to abide by dozens of different rules. Certainly, Warner have the accountants and lawyers to be able to handle it, but it was easier at the time to make a little white lie for business purposes, collect funds from across the globe and then make a single donation from Warner to the charity set up for the Forgey family. Even acknowledging that this would be the case would force Warner to have to comply with various rules in other regions.

It’s a shame,  but not surprising that when a major corporation like Warner try to do something like this they’re met with such suspicion. Shadow of War already faces criticism and scepticism over the inclusion of microtransactions to let you boost your progress through the game. It’s by virtue of not being able to properly discuss their plans that the controversy flared up.

The full statement is as follows:

The Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC was created by the team at Monolith Productions to immortalize Michael Forgey, a dear friend and colleague, and to raise funds to help support his widow and children.

Specifically, we decided to sell the DLC worldwide and donate all profits from the DLC to the family.  Although we decided to donate all profits to the family, we only planned to actively promote this donation in the U.S. (excluding certain states based on their charitable promotion laws).  We hoped this approach would raise as much money as possible for the Forgey family in compliance with the law.  Our decision not to promote the donation outside the U.S. (even though we intended to donate the money) caused many to question where funds from other territories were going.  Answering that direct question itself could have triggered compliance obligations or put us in violation of cause marketing laws in some of the 241 territories in which the content was available.

Additionally, a factually incorrect tweet from our team exacerbated the confusion by stating that international funds would not be going to the family.  For absolute clarity; our intention was always to give all profits from the DLC, worldwide to the Forgey family.

We now recognize that tying our donation to sales of the DLC was not the best way to achieve our goal of offering financial support to the family and creating a lasting memorial to Michael Forgey.  We sincerely apologize to the fans and to the Forgey family for the confusion we created.

To ensure the two original aims are still met and to provide transparency to the community, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment will instead make a donation directly to the Forgey family. The DLC will be withdrawn from sale and will be a free download for owners of Middle-earth: Shadow of War.  Anyone who has purchased the DLC will receive a full refund.  If there is interest in donating directly to the family, please visit their youcaring site: https://www.youcaring.com/michael-forgey-479259.

Source: WB Games forums

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