Publishers Pull Their Games From Epic's Store During Its Big Sale

Image: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2

Earlier today, Epic once again took a page from Steam’s book and announced a “mega sale” that includes both percentage discounts and an additional $US10 off every game priced $US14.99 or higher on the Epic Games Store.

It seemed to be smooth sailing for the sale, but then two major games suddenly vanished from the store.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, the upcoming action RPG, disappeared first, and nobody was quite sure what to make of it. It was briefly available for a discounted price, but then suddenly, it was gone. Trying to access the game’s store page currently returns a 404 error. An Epic representative told Kotaku that Vampire: The Masquerade publisher Paradox chose at the last second—or after the last second, technically—to not participate in the sale.

“If a developer or publisher chooses to not participate in our sales, we will honour that decision,” the Epic rep said in an email. “Paradox Interactive has chosen to not participate in the Epic Mega Sale and the game has been temporarily removed from sale. If you’ve purchased Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 during the period when the discount did apply at the time of check out, Epic will honour that price.”

Shortly after Vampire exploded into a figurative cloud of bats, Epic director of publishing strategy Sergey Galyonkin made a similar comment on Russian site DTF, which the Epic representative confirmed was accurate. A little later, Galyonkin made another comment on the same site, saying that he initially thought Paradox was aware of how the sale would affect its games, but “after a little investigation, it turned out that I was wrong.”

Paradox would not go into specifics about why the removal happened when it did, but a representative pointed me to a thread that included Galyonkin’s comments. The publisher also provided Kotaku with a statement.

“We are in discussion with Epic regarding the temporary removal of Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 from the Epic Game Store,” read the statement. “The game will return to the store soon! Any purchases made while the game was discounted during the Epic Mega Sale will be honored and no Masquerade violations will be assessed.”

The other game that was pulled was space station survival sim Oxygen Not Included, the Epic Games Store page for which also gives visitors a 404 error right now. Developer and publisher Klei Entertainment has yet to comment on why this happened. Kotaku reached out to Klei for more information, but it has not yet responded.

It’s worth noting that neither of these games are Epic Store exclusives, which could put them in an awkward spot on other stores.

The structure of this sale, after all, is unusual; the additional $US10 off games priced $US14.99 and higher comes “courtesy of Epic,” meaning that Epic itself is taking the monetary hit, so companies like Paradox and Klei can’t easily match those prices on Steam. In Paradox’s case, it’s doubly dicey, seeing as Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 isn’t out yet.

Why pre-order it anywhere else if Epic could, theoretically, discount it again before it’s released? Some people have pointed to regional pricing differences that would’ve led to impractically large discounts on an unreleased game in some territories, as well.

Epic’s bouncing baby store has had other first-time mega-sale-related hiccups, as well. Hades, the early access roguelite from the makers of Bastion and Pyre, was briefly priced incorrectly at $US6.99, and developer Supergiant corrected it with a confusing increase not only to the game’s sale price (which is now $US14.99), but also its base price, which was $US19.99 but is now $US24.99.

“We apologise for any confusion this caused and hope customers who got the deal enjoy the game,” Supergiant said on Twitter. “The corrected sale price is still a 25% discount off of the original price point.”

The developer also addressed the increased base price, which some users viewed as an attempt to sell the game for a higher amount than a 25 per cent discount would otherwise imply.

“We raised the list price based on continued improvements and additions we’ve made so far in Early Access,” Supergiant said. “We think this price point reflects the game’s current value. Customers can get the game at a lower-than-ever price for several weeks.”

This is not at all an uncommon practice with early access games, but it’s rubbed some fans the wrong way in light of a pre-price-increase comment from Supergiant earlier today in which the developer said it would “announce something like that well in advance” when asked about a Hades price increase on Twitter.

It is, to an extent, understandable that the Epic Games Store wouldn’t nail running a store-wide sale on its first try. After all, it took Valve ages to get Steam sales right, and even then, Steam still regularly goes down at the outset of big seasonal dealstravaganzas. But this comes on top of Epic’s barebones feature set, other assorted errors, and unpopular penchant for snapping up exclusives.

Watching a company with all the money in the world stumble through the process of launching a store doesn’t inspire much faith in that store’s future prospects, even if the roadmap ahead looks significantly more acceptable than the pothole-ridden road we’re on right now.


    after a little investigation, it turned out that I was wrong Well, that's refreshingly direct.

    I'm surprised Epic didn't consider the downside to trying to buy a sale, especially with all their posturing on being all about benefiting developers.

      Or communicating with Developers/Publishers or alliwing the to set their own discounts. Seems really inpromptu and unplanned considering Steam plans their sales months in advance by notifying all publishers and payment companies (which usually leak the date)

    An Epic representative sits behind a large desk, a large cigar protruding from their mouth produces a tendril of winding smoke. In a small, badly balanced chair positioned at the front of the desk sits a publisher, nervously looking at the two large, brutish thugs either side of them.
    Epic speaks. "You don't want to be in our sale eh? Don't want to be part of our little Epic family? Well, it pains me to have to discipline my children but sometimes you need to set an example." Epic makes a dismissive motion with their hand and the two thugs drag the panicking publisher out into the corridor.
    "Boys. 404 them."

      And the didn't even call him Godfather, on this, the day of his daughters store sale!!

    I guess for some publishers this sale was a little too pro-consumer...

      It's not though, in the grand scheme it's actually anti-everybody-but-Epic.

        Including unreleased games in a sale (not to be confused with "pre-order discounts") and offering partial refunds for recent full-price purchases of sale items are two things I don't think I've ever seen Steam do. If that's not even a little bit pro-consumer, I'm not sure what is.

          Very interested in that second feature. Haven't seen that done anywhere before.

          Kinda surprising from Epic, whose whole pitch to developers and publishers has been, to date, "If you wanna be more anti-consumer than Steam, we're your store!"

          Ages ago and i wish i could find it steam has released a statement saying if you buy a game right before a sale and it got cheaper, you can refund it and rebuy at the lower price.

          This was back when the store had like big flash sales during the moth where you might buy a game and then it was on a huge sale the next day, or you'd wait right to the end of the month hoping things would go on sale but they didn't.

          I'm not sure if steam still does this but i do remember that they would allow refunds or repurchases at new sale prices.

    Epic’s bouncing baby store has had other first-time mega-sale-related hiccups, as well. Hades, the early access roguelite from the makers of Bastion and Pyre, was briefly priced incorrectly at $US6.99

    I managed to get Hades for this price, I thought it was a bit of a discount for an early access game, but was glad to grab it.

      Same here. Always been a fan of Supergiant games and always had my eye on this and at that price I couldn't say no.


    Uhm. I'm pretty sure it's illegal to raise the base price of a product immediately at the commencement of a sale in Australia, at least. I suspect that holds true even if you try to justify it by saying that improved features have increased the value of the product.

    Timing matters.
    They should've taken the hit and waited to jack up the base price, or simply not participated in the sale if they knew they were going to increase the base price. Sale particpation and price change at the same time, though? Pure coincidence that couldn't have possibly been avoided? Unlikely.
    That behaviour is dodgy.

      I agree - this is bad work from Supergiant. The sale price should have continued throughout the sale period, so the increase should have happened on 14 May when their last big game update came through.

      To me it seems like they didn't want the end-price for the consumer being so low prior to the game actually being released, and jacked up the price so the perceived price wasn't below what they wanted it to be.

        Honestly, I wouldn't put this entirely on Supergiant, because it sounds like Epic didn't communicate this well to publishers at all. Even if it doesn't hurt their sales income through Epic fronting that $10, making this essentially 'opt-out, also we didn't tell you you could opt out' puts people like Paradox with a multi-platform game in a bad place where they're now biased through no fault of their own, and hurts people like Supergiant who are selling games so low-price that a $10 cut throws their entire plan into disarray, or were planning their own price changes.

        To me, the sin is miscommunication, not that they did it at all.

      Correct, this comes under bait and switch pricing. Time to issue some more fines ACCC.

        If i remember they slammed Steam pretty hard a couple of years ago.

      I actually agree with their reasoning though. They also said they may raise the price again before it comes out of pre-release as more features are added. While the timing is "unfortunate" I think they could probably justify it. Especially if they've only recently added more features.

      If it was a *completed* game and they raised the price I'd be in full agreement with you though. Too many companies price jack for sales and get away with it.

        I'd edit my post but since that results in moderation...

        Just checked the Hades page and they literally just did a big update in May: The Beefy Update. And they've been doing updates almost monthly.

        It also highlighted a shortcoming of the Epic site (or maybe just the Hades page) there isn't much information there. They've done a "big" update but you can't click on the item and get details of what is in the update. I went through a couple more games I was interested in and they seem to suffer the same problem. The store page is pretty much equivalent to looking at the back of the box in EB games. Little information, just a few flashy images. If you want more details of whats actually in the games you need to look elsewhere.

      Oh and I meant to add, the confirmation will be their post sale price. If the price remains higher than before then I believe them. Doubly so if they raise the price again in say 3 months time as they add more features.

      Don't forget it's early access and not a complete game yet. The game's probably had 3 or so content updates since I bought it so it's a fair increase but bad timing.

      Do we really want early access games to be full price before they're finished?

    Was going to buy Hades. Not participating in the sale is one thing, but changing the base price “cause sale”, no thanks.

    This includes the Division 2 as well here in Australia. Can see it available in the US store though.

    I don't know if it's related or not, but the free game for this week "Untold Stories" shows up as "Unavailable" once you claim it. Or it does for me, anyway. Has it been pulled or is it a region block thing? Anyone know?

    Damn. I saw that Hades price and figured I'd pick it up later.

    To be fair ... Steam was (not sure if past tense is right!) a smouldering pile of garbage when it first came out as well.

    Sure, its aggressive sales tactics, but once again we’ve slipped into the void where consumers are seemingly mindless drones who don’t have permission to use their own brains or wallets - and instead go for the throat of the company.

      To be fair ... Steam was (not sure if past tense is right!) a smouldering pile of garbage when it first came out as well.

      To be fair... it took like over fifty years for the first car manufacturers to come up with power steering, so it's not at all reasonable to expect new manufacturers just entering the scene to already have those kinds of features already. Everyone should ignore that deficiency and cut them some slack because they need time to mature, you know?

        Not sure that analogy works but I’ll take your point. The platform itself (“power steering”) is fine ... perhaps even a much nicer aesthetic than Steam ... but both are still a shambles when it comes to pricing mechanics and the commercial relationships.

        That being said - to support your point - the non-PC markets such as Xbox and PlayStation have fixed these elements by virtue of being monopolistic to their respective platforms ... so I feel like there are ‘some’ lessons that Epic could have learned (but even then they’re already copping flack for their exclusivity deals with Ubisoft, etc.)

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