The latest installment of the tongue-in-cheek Serious Sam franchise was first announced in 2018. While the game was known then as Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass, it will arrive on PC and Stadia later this month without the subtitle. Why this happened is different depending on who you ask.
According to a comment on the game’s Steam discussion page, the official Serious Sam 4 server on Discord was at one point spammed with pictures of Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford wearing “badass” sunglasses at PAX East in 2016. This, the story continues, was meant to protest the “dumb” subtitle.
My own investigation of the Discord server turned up copious amounts of “badass” edits by the user named in the Steam post, but unless several uploads and subsequent messages were deleted over the last few months, they never seemed to disrupt conversation on the server.
Daniel Lucic, communications manager at Serious Sam developer Croteam, told me the real reason “Planet Badass” was removed from Serious Sam 4.
“We’re going to be localizing Serious Sam 4 into multiple languages,” Lucic wrote over email when asked about the above story. “During the discussions with the [localization] teams, we concluded that translating ‘Planet Badass’ while keeping the original idea behind it intact is nearly impossible. I guess it’s the same with any pun, it’s only a good pun if it’s delivered in the original form.”
As for the origins of the subtitle, Lucic explained that it actually had story implications rather than just being a tacked-on bit of silliness. Serious Sam 4 takes place on Earth in the early days of an alien invasion. While much of humanity has been imprisoned or enslaved, a select few have kept fighting back against the invaders, turning Earth into a literal planet of badasses. Unfortunately, that word just doesn’t work in other languages.
“While we always make an effort to listen to what fans have to say, in this particular instance, the change happened due to practicality,” Lucic wrote.