The internet doing what it does best, sadly
You might remember there being quite an uproar when Return to Monkey Island was revealed. While plenty of fans were ecstatic to see the series return, a very vocal minority were absolute aghast at the art style the game employed. Not surprisingly, this backlash had an impact on series creator Ron Gilbert.
Shortly after the announcement of Return to Monkey Island, Gilbert decided to step away from online discussions due to the vitriol centered around the game’s art style. Now, a number of months removed from the game’s launch and success, Gilbert is willing to talk a bit more about that fallout.
“I was totally confident. I knew that the stuff that Rex had done, that was exactly what I wanted to do. So hearing all of that negative feedback… It definitely hurt. I’m not going to say it didn’t. But I never once doubted [what] Rex and Zoe and everyone else had done. That was the right way to do it.”
It’s great to hear that Gilbert knew the artistic direction for Return to Monkey Island was the way to go, and he stuck to his guns. That said, it’s definitely sad knowing he had to suffer the online hate all the way up to launch, and it’s no doubt taken a mental toll. Hopefully he’s far enough removed from that backlash that he’s at peace with the situation now.
I think we need to delineate between "feedback" and "online hate".
I don't think a person or company can make an artistic endeavor, such as a video game, put it out there in the public square, and then only expect to hear positive feedback. If people are saying "I don't like this art style," it's just feedback. Companies used to genuinely covet real feedback from their audience, and it should help them improve. I even consider "Wow, this art style SUCKS" to be feedback... just not worded as nicely.
If somebody out there is wishing harm on game creators, or even worse, threatening it, you can consider that "online hate" and it should not be happening.
I don't know what specific commentary Ron Gilbert is talking about, and he may have seen real, legitimate online hate. But in general I think people who classify all negative feedback as "online hate" are not only thin-skinned, but they're cheating themselves out of an opportunity to improve.