Last week, IGN featured a game called Ecumene Aztec — in which you play as an Aztec warrior going full guerrilla warfare on Spanish conquistadors. In the wake of this IGN profile, Ecumene Aztec’s developers have been harassed by far-right extremists, including having the website associated with the publisher stolen by far-right trolls, who then made it into a page promoting Spanish imperialism.
In the initial write-up for the game, IGN named Giantscraft as Ecumene Aztec’s developer and publisher. Giantscraft is also listed as the publisher on press materials for the game that The Verge has obtained. There are no links to Giantscraft’s site on IGN’s article, but searching for Giantscraft reveals a single Instagram page.
On this Instagram page, Ecumene Aztec does not appear; instead, the page features a link to the website giantscraft.com. Upon visiting the website, users are greeted with an extremely bare-bones site for a game publisher, featuring a quote attributed to Hernán Cortés — one of the conquistadors responsible for the destruction of Tenochtitlan and the enslavement of its people — as well as a giant image of the Cross of Burgundy — heraldry linked to Spanish royalists, far-right South American extremists, and Nazis. Also featured on the page is a link to another Instagram page that is very clearly a kind of “anti-woke” 4chan-esque account filled with memes celebrating Spanish imperialism.
To be clear, Giantscraft does not appear to be affiliated with the Spanish far right. A translation of a post on the fascist Instagram page suggests that Giantscraft did not reserve the domain giantscraft.com and, after the reveal of Ecumene Aztec, an opportunist swiped the domain and set up what is essentially a Spanish Imperial fan page. The Verge reached out to Giantscraft and its PR, and a PR spokesperson confirmed this via email, writing that “since the announcement they have been under assault from hard right groups” and that the domain was taken shortly after Aztec’s announcement. Due to apparent death threats the development team has received, we are granting the PR spokesperson anonymity.
Ecumenegames.com is the publisher’s official website, with its PR spokesperson claiming that the publisher was in the midst of a name change to Ecumene Games when all this happened.
On social media, Ecumene Aztec received a mixed response. Some praised the overall concept of the game — after all, there are very few games in which conquered peoples get the opportunity to fight back against their historical oppressors — while others derided the game’s stereotypical take on Aztec civilization featuring an ahistorical depiction of Tenochtitlan and human sacrifice built into the game’s mechanics. Another subset of detractors were upset that you couldn’t play as the Spanish.
The criticism of the game seemed enough to prompt the developers to update its scope. In an update on the game’s Steam page, the developers wrote that they would rework the game to allow players to choose to work with the conquistadors as well as implement additional features to make the game more historically accurate.
In a statement made through its PR, the developers of Ecumene Aztec said the change in scope was due to asks from the community.
“It was not planned. However we saw that about 40 percent of [the] audience says that [they] would like to have [the] choice to join [the] conquistadors, so we might actually try to give this possibility. The game is not political in anyway and never will be, it is history FICTION.”