Epic Pledges To Support Developers After Intense Harassment Of Ooblets Team

By now, you probably know the drill: A developer announces that it will sell the PC version of its game exclusively through the Epic Games Store. Cue wailing, gnashing of teeth, and increasingly, harassment from folks used to smashing that “buy” button on Steam.

The latest target of Epic exclusivity ire? The developers of Ooblets, who tried to get out in front of the inevitable stampede of rage by snarkily putting the situation in perspective. Coordinated harassment followed, prompting a statement from Epic on what it’s now deeming a “disturbing” trend.

Last week, Ooblets designer Ben Wasser wrote a post explaining why he and his development partner, programmer and artist Rebecca Cordingley, decided to take Epic’s deal. Wasser said that the publisher offered the duo a minimum guarantee on sales that matched what they were hoping to make on other stores, thus securing their future as a studio. He also addressed people’s concerns about Epic’s store in a half-joking tone, concluding that “this is all low-stakes video game stuff we’re dealing with here” and “nothing to get worked up about.”

But people got very worked up indeed about both the exclusivity deal and the “tone” of Wasser’s post, which did not treat the subject of a video game moving to a different, free platform with the funereal somberness it apparently deserves. Over the weekend, Wasser tweeted about some of what he was dealing with.

“Gotta quickly address the faked screenshot going around of me supposedly saying ‘gamers would be better off in gas chambers,’” he wrote. “Obviously never said that, and as a Jewish person, this one really hurt to see being spread around.”

The next day, Wasser said the crowd trying to defame him had taken things a step further, creating a fake video of him posting the fake message.

In a message to Patreon supporters (reprinted on GamesIndustry.biz), Wasser and Cordingley discussed the full scope of the problem, saying that they’ve received “thousands if not tens of thousands of hateful, threatening messages across every possible platform nonstop.”

This cut deep, they said, because of the otherwise “positive, supportive relationship” they’ve had with their audience throughout development.

The two-person studio went on to say that despite having previously felt empathy for targets of coordination internet offensives and trying to address “that kind of thinking” in their exclusivity announcement, they “couldn’t have guessed the scale of what it would feel like to be the target of an internet hate mob.”

“I have been crying nonstop for the last two days and feeling like the world has collapsed around me,” reads the studio’s Patreon post.

It was in response to all of this that Epic released its statement.

“The announcement of Ooblets highlighted a disturbing trend which is growing and undermining healthy public discourse, and that’s the coordinated and deliberate creation and promotion of false information, including fake screenshots, videos, and technical analysis, accompanied by harassment of partners, promotion of hateful themes, and intimidation of those with opposing views,” the company wrote.

It noted that it fully supports people’s “right to speak freely and critically” about the Epic store’s failings, but this isn’t that. This is abuse. Epic intends to “steadfastly support our partners throughout these challenges.” It concluded by thanking people who don’t bully developers and “continue to promote and advocate for healthy, truthful discussion about the games business and stand up to all manners of abuse.”


Comments

    It was kind of obvious this was going to escalate following the statement he put out.

    In saying that, things some have clearly taken things too far with diaguting behaviour with no excuse or justification.
    I mean shit, the condescending tone of the statement pissed me off too but never enough to bat shit insane.

      Yeah, well the most rational and mature response to something that annoys you is to simply stop engaging with it and move on. But it seems that this is a very difficult concept to grasp for many gamers.

    I've listened to all the complaints, but I'd still rather have Epic get a timed exclusive for a single game than Microsoft (or anyone, it's just Microsoft has been doing it the most recently) purchase companies out right.

    Epic's launcher is bad, but I feel happier knowing that more funds go back the devs. And if it doesn't work particularly well for the dev, they can always go down a different path next game. Epic also genuinely seem like they are trying to support new and interesting ideas.

    Studio ownership means we might get Companies we like attached to IP I couldn't care less for eg: Obsidian's Gears of War or Ninja Theory's Halo. Never forget the amount of pedigree that Rare lost becoming first party.

      These are excellent points and they'd be almost enough to sway me (apart from the store/library being shithouse - that remains a deal-breaker, but I'm sure they're working on making it suck less) but my primary point of principle in disapproving of the Epic store is their anti-consumer stance, allowing dev studios to opt out of accountability on the store.

      I get the argument that gaming in general can do better when dev studios do better, but it should never, ever, ever come at the expense of consumer protections.

        What do you mean by, "Allowing dev studios to opt out of accountability"?

          He's referring to the fact that devs can choose not to allow reviews on the Epic store. Reviews are one of the most important mechanisms for ensuring that facts about a game are available to customers even when the dev wants to keep those facts hidden, and reviews present at the point of purchase is equally as important in making sure that customers are properly informed before they hand over their money.

          Hiding and disabling reviews is a deception of omission, the same way not mentioning a vital fact is a lie of omission.

            Pretty much. Support and discussion forums, too. But full credit to Epic for adopting Steam's refund policy at the start of the year, because that was one of my other bug-bears about their anti-consumer attitude as well. And I can't ding them on regional pricing, as I'm aware that they are currently working on it. Can't really begrudge them the time it's taking, as there's undoubtedly got to be a shitload of tech and business decisions at extreme detail before they can roll that out.

            They're clearly improving aspects of both policy and usability, but as of right now, they still fall on the wrong side of Steam for looking after consumers, which - up until EGS came out - was not a bar I would've thought was exceptionally high.

            There are 3rd party review sites with comment sections (you know, like the one we're on now), why do the reviews need to be on the site? And a LOT of Steam reviews are complete junk, I barely use them now as such a large percentage are junk ("game crashed, negative review", yeah, that's not helpful to anyone!)

              Reviews at the point of purchase is important because they're a single, concentrated source of information at a location the user already knows about. Someone buying a game on Epic isn't necessarily going to know that someone on an unrelated third party site wrote a review of it that contained some pretty critical information, they may not even be aware [your favourite third party site] exists.

              This isn't about the store just not having reviews, either, although that's something I also disagree with. Having the review feature but allowing developers to turn it off serves only one purpose - it allows the developer to hide information that people might find relevant to their decision to buy the game or not. Hiding relevant information simply because it might discourage a sale is deceptive and unethical.

                Add to that that, because they aren't tied into the distribution system, third party sites cannot confirm that reviewers have purchased or even played the game that they're "reviewing". When you see a Steam review, sure it may be a deliberate deception, but it's far less likely to be as there's effectively a paywall in the way first. Only the most dedicated trolls are likely to pay full price (ie. reviews tend to be most impactful at the game's release, when it's sold at full price) for a game just to post a negative review.

                  To add again and avoid editing hell: I don't agree with the practice and, in fact, find it detestable, but even review bombing of the aforementioned kind of review system would be more insightful than on a third party site where it costs nothing to post. Again, on Steam, even review bombers must own the game first and are less likely to go out and purchase a game just to smear it; more likely that they own the game already and have issue with the game or something the developer, publisher, or associate has done.

                  Agreed. Of course there are obvious good and bad cases, but the line between 'malicious review bomb' and 'in the buyer's legitimate interest' is quite subjective.

              "Game crashed on launch" is pretty important to me - it tells me there could be stability issues, and tells me it might be worth seeing how widespread such an issue is. I'm very interested in if a game is likely to *not work*.

              And aggregated user reviews, like Steam provides, especially with historical trends, give insight into the state of the game: overwhelmingly positive reviews with recent negative reviews might indicate a problem with a recent patch, or a poorly received mechanics change, or just a bad PR move that can probably be ignored; overwhelmingly negative with a recent positive spike might indicate the devs are making positive changes based on player feedback. It's weird... conventional wisdom is "a person is smart, people are dumb..." when it comes to user reviews, it's the exact opposite: "one review is worthless, many reviews can be invaluable."

                Agreed. One 'it crashes on startup' is worthless, but fifty of them is a sign of a real problem.

            Ah, I see. Thank you for the explanation.

            Do you think Epic have done that specifically to allow Devs to hide inconvenient facts, though, or rather as a tool to counter review bombs and the like? From a Dev point of view, I can see the advantage in being able to block reviews that may have nothing to do with the game or anything under their control and could genuinely pose a risk to their livelihood.

              Disabling reviews to avoid review bombs is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The importance and benefit of reviews to a healthy commercial relationship outweighs a temporary spike in negative reviews. Especially so if that review bomb is because of something that's vital for prospective new buyers to know about.

              You can't give the seller control over reviews about their own product. That's just an open invitation for them to delete any negative review that comes in and only allow positive ones. This isn't hypothetical either, there have been a half dozen devs (at least) on Steam that have attempted to do exactly this by flagging negative reviews as inappropriate, or by posting fake positive reviews to deceive customers. There does need to be a mechanism to moderate reviews, but it must be in impartial third party hands, not controlled by the seller.

                I can see your point and agree with it for the most part. But aside from the larger issue of the benefit of reviews to informed decision making, when talking about reasons that Epic and the EGS are anti-consumer (and so whether to boycott or not), shoudn't intent matter?

                Ie, if Epic's intent is to entice Devs to their store by giving them options to block reviews they don't like and try to deceive consumers, then fuck them. I'll happily boycott. But if the intent is instead a genuine (if possibly misguided) attempt to give Devs more tools to deal with concerted and organised review bombs that are about things out of their control (or are in their control but have been hugely overblown), that's a different story.

                  Intent matters, but so does effect. Even if Epic isn't intending to turn PC digital games distribution into an oligopoly, it's nevertheless a very possible outcome that exclusivity causes and one that hurts everyone except the oligopolists. 'Fighting for the little guy' is a convenient banner to wave in marketing because it seems superficially true, but it isn't, any more than Sweeney's "if Steam reduced their cut to 15% we'd stop buying exclusives" nonsense. The only reason he can say it is he knows Valve is never going to do it, and he knows Valve is never going to do it because he knows Epic isn't really impacting Steam's revenue at all, despite being marketed that way.

            There are lots of store fronts that don't display user reviews though, so why single out Epic? There's no user reviews on the PlayStation Store, Humble Store, EB Games, JB Hi Fi, etc. People aren't purchasing blind from those stores though: the store front isn't the sole source of information about a game.

            If anything I'd tend to treat reviews attached to a store front with a grain of salt anyway: there is a clear conflict of interest when it comes to displaying reviews that might discourage sales.

              JB Hi-Fi does have reviews. That said, I spoke to this in another comment:

              This isn't about the store just not having reviews, either, although that's something I also disagree with. Having the review feature but allowing developers to turn it off serves only one purpose - it allows the developer to hide information that people might find relevant to their decision to buy the game or not. Hiding relevant information simply because it might discourage a sale is deceptive and unethical.

              In short, I think all stores should have reviews. I single Epic out because they're planning to have reviews but let developers turn them off - none of the other stores you listed, nor any other store I can even think of, does that.

                I guess I don't see that as such a big problem. It would definitely be unethical if they let developers pick which user reviews would be displayed. But giving them a choice between "all the reviews" and "none of the reviews" is less problematic.

                But again: if I am after an independent opinion of a product, I think it is better to look somewhere other than a company whose primary goal is to get you to buy said product.

                Also, about JB Hi Fi, it looks like they have reviews for some games and not for others. For example, Detroit has a review tab and "write a review" link:

                https://www.jbhifi.com.au/playstation-4/detroit-become-human/971036/

                ... and God of War doesn't:

                https://www.jbhifi.com.au/playstation-4/god-of-war/971034/

                The first few games I checked on the website didn't have the review tab, so I'd assumed they removed the feature. I've got no idea what basis they use for making the feature available, but the effect seems pretty similar to Epic's.

                  Yeah, that's odd, I can't see any reason one would have it and not the other. I find that a bit disturbing for the same reason as with Epic. The only possible saving grace there is that JB isn't selling titles exclusively. Still, I might drop them an email asking why there's a difference.

                  I'm going to guess with near certainty that it's down to publishers allowing JB Hi-Fi to display user reviews for a particular title.

                  Which, incidentally, is why Epic allows reviews to be disabled. It's 100% a publisher demand. Steam gets away with it because it's the 800-pound gorilla of digital storefronts, but if it wasn't, you can 100% guarantee that it would allow publishers to disable reviews on titles as well.

                  @stormo Interesting theory, but even within the same publisher some are enabled and some aren't. AC Origins has reviews, AC Odyssey doesn't. The Division 2 doesn't allow reviews, but The Division 2 Limited Edition does, but The Division 2 Gold Edition doesn't.

                  I feel like there's something more going on there.

                Sounds like a non-issue then. Any game that doesn't have reviews enabled is gonna throw up big red flags. Most devs will be pressured into enabling them.

                  I sincerely hope so. I can't help but think of Digital Homicide and Wild Games though - they'd both have turned off reviews in a heartbeat, ridden out the red flag, and still managed to fool enough people into buying their utter garbage for it to be worth their while.

            This game is obviously going to get review bombed by morons and idiots who would rather an indie game get buried in the flood of shitty steam games and have to close up shop, than be on a different free platform. I’d turn off the reviews too.

              I'm confident they're not going to sell more on Epic than they would have on Steam, and any review bomb would have come from that move in the first place so it wouldn't make sense for that to have been a reason to switch over.

              The only meaningful question here is whether they'll sell more than the floor amount Epic offered them. They've said elsewhere that the exclusivity period is not fixed and is based on sales volume, which means "we'll guarantee you X,000 sales worth of revenue, but until you reach X,000 actual sales the game stays Epic exclusive".

              The problem with that is if they were already going to sell X,000 copies then they gain nothing from Epic's exclusivity but lose market share and goodwill by being bound to a single store. If they weren't going to reach that amount, then they've permanently (or long-long-term) signed over their property to a store that can't make the minimum they needed, and are contractually prevented from putting it anywhere else to fill missing revenue. Epic makes a loss and won't offer them favourable terms ever again, and they lose at least some future consumer share by burning relationships with their supporters that simply don't want EGS.

              The only case in which these guys come out better off is if they sell less than the floor volume, and then close shop and stop developing games any more. It's a long-term shitty deal for them in exchange for short-term security that relies on the assumption their game isn't going to sell.

                That said, assumptions that the game won't sell aren't rare in the indie space.

                I was enormously impressed by the discussion on this post: http://weatherfactory.biz/state-of-the-factory-year-1/ - the Weather Factory post about Cultist Simulator's budget, publishing, and distribution are the most detailed and candid I've ever seen from a developer, and the results of their analysis were pretty surprising to me personally.

              rather an indie game get buried in the flood of shitty steam games

              anyone who complains about the sea of shit on steam is just a lazy shit that can't be bothered looking for these supposed "indie gems".

              i don't know where u copy pasted this from but it doesn't hold up, consumers asked steam to expand their catalog of games and they did now the same people are complaining because they are too lazy to look through store for the games they want. Steam community has plenty of ways for you to quickly sort through the shit, for example if you like RPG's there is a community channel thing that reviews every game that has the RPG tag for you so you can sort the good from the bad.

              instead of crying about how hard it is to find games on steam here, take those 5 minutes to learn to use the steam store correctly and the tools it offers.

      Just Microsoft? It literally just happened with Sony and the Final Fantasy VII remake

        I'm talking studios, not games. Capcom with Street Fighter is another example, while No Man's Sky and Nier Automata are examples if timed exclusives from Sony. If the developer doesnt get back what they were expecting from deals like this, they can walk away from it after the product is shipped. When a developer gets bought out by a publisher, then they HAVE to make what that publisher wants, which often sees compromised products get released.

      You're upset at MS purchasing companies so you'll prefer Epic. Have you any idea how many companies Tencent own?

        I'm not upset with anybody. I'm just pointing out that Steam, GoG, Sony, Microsoft and pretty much every platform have done and are still currently doing things that are unethical or anticonsumer, but we let it slide because it's easier to just go along with it. People are pushing back at Epic because it's a new inconvenience they don't want.

    At this point I'm curious if Epic bought the exclusivity of certain people also... And not just games.

      how dare you Nathon Graysin is beyond trustworthy he doesn't regularly publish articles full of bias devoid of context and missing important information that may damage the framing and narrative he is pushing... oh wait i got the by line wrong this is Nathan Grayson.. continue

        Right? Could have been a decent, different article about Epic doing something good.

        But thanks to some deep seeded anti-Valve zealotry of course Mr Grayson simply has to get in his personal jabs at basically anyone who likes buying games on Steam.

    The creation of fake screenshots and videos is probably the most disturbing part of the article.

    All this for video games?

      Yup. The worst part about the idea of faked tweet screenshots is that people delete offensive shit they've said, all time, and screenshots are often the only way to hold them accountable for what they'd rather pretend they hadn't said. Not sure how to actually tell, now. I sure fell for that one yesterday.

        To be clear, only one screenshot is disputed (regarding gas chambers). There are a several screenshots of pretty shitty things, screenshotted by multiple people with different screen layouts, that are highly likely to be accurate.

          I just assumed they all were, after that.

          That kinda makes me wonder if it's like the LNP candidate Jessica Whelan.

          One racist comment comes to light, and it's hackers - call the AFP, investigate. Then it turns out there's more, and she's dumped by the party. Yeah, all those other awful comments were hers, just not the one she referred to the AFP.

          It makes me wonder if this guy really was just on a roll and only walked back the one comment he was least comfortable with as being doctored

            It outright harms their case that they went through and deleted a whole swath of messages on the Discord. The Malaysian father, for example, there are messages from Wasser on the discord right now that reference his message (validating that it existed), but it's been deleted along with Wasser's response.

            There are a few comments on there even from supporters that say that Wasser was overly defensive on the first day and said things he shouldn't have. The fact they've deleted messages that are confirmed to have existed, particularly ones as polite as that, make it look a whole lot like hiding the body while still holding the smoking gun.

    Epic offered them a minimum guarantee that matched the sales that they wanted to make across all platforms, so why wouldn't you take that deal?

    You'd have to be an idiot not to.

    Jesus Christ, "gamers" are the worst group of people I swear to God.
    I play games nearly everyday, but I do not refer to myself as a gamer anymore due to the horrible reputation that they have.

    And I know it's not all "gamers", but unfortunately they vocal community has ruined it for everyone else with stupid bullshit like harassing developers, women, the LGBT community, people of colour, even other gamers, and literally probably everybody.

    Grow the f*ck up.

      You'd have to be an idiot to think that a short-term payoff is worth exchanging long-term reputation for. Games are a business, and like most businesses it relies on trust. Burn your trust, burn your business.

        The amount of people that are so butt hurt by this that they won't buy the next game by this dev in a couple of years would be so small to be statistically insignificant.

        Your rep will hurt if you consistently push out rubbish games or act like a dick on social media, but just because of the store you put it on?

        I'd also wager that 95%+ of the hate is from people that aren't even interested in this game or wouldn't have picked it up on Steam anyway.

          Do you have any statistics to back up your assertion of the insignificance of people who won't buy future games from this developer, or are you guessing?

          I won't be buying from this developer, for instance. Not just because of the Epic exclusivity, but because of the condescending attitude and frankly horrible things they've said on their discord to people who were being perfectly polite.

            What a lot of people forget is that anyone reading or commenting here are the minority. And a lot of time a vocal one at that. I'd like some stats to, but I'd wager that Darren is right.

              You can aggregate information with passable accuracy over a lengthy period across multiple sources, as long as you respect the margin of error and sample bias. I have quite strong feelings on the topic, which is why I'd prefer to see third party analysis when possible. The fact nobody on Epic is disclosing sales figures and Metro hid theirs behind limited-scope percentages is definitely a warning flag, in my opinion.

            Looks like you sort of proved my point to a degree. The shop isn't the issue, being a dick is (I have no idea if he was or not).

            No, I have no evidence but it's pretty obvious. Storm in a teacup, will be forgotten in a month. Heck, I just read the article and can't even remember the name of the company.

              The shop is an issue. Being a dick is also an issue. That's why I said 'not just because'.

              I don't think it is obvious. The pants-shitting threat-writing people are a minority for sure, but I've talked to and read the opinions of a ton of people over the last several months and there's quite a lot of polite rejection of Epic as worth consideration.

              (I don't recall the name of the company, but without looking I do remember the names Ben Wasser and Rebecca something. I don't tend to forget the names of people who treat customers with disdain (see also Phil Fish)).

              in know plenty people that haven't purchased any games from EA in 10-15 years because of things they did in the past, it is not as uncommon as you think it is.

              your just not a vindictive person so it doesn't make sense to you, i'm not either i don't give a single shit, i buy games i like i don't even know who the dev is sometimes. But some people will absolutely never purchase from them again for these decisions and if they are anything like ym brother they will get a small tingle of satisfaction every time a game they would have purchased ships.

        If it makes your company survive, it is the right move. This gives them a chance to stay in business, which when you are a super small team is important!

          Granted I haven't read every comment they've made, but the ones I've read don't make any suggestion that the game wouldn't have been finished, it was entirely about 'if we don't sell enough we might have to move back home with parents', which is a different thing. The latter means that all that really happened was they removed the uncertainty of sales volume by exchanging exclusivity for a floor. If the game was going to sell any more than that, they're no better off under this deal and may end up being worse off due to reduced volume of real sales.

          And that's just for this title. Gamers are as fickle as any other group, but in my experience there are more gamers with long memories than there are in other industries. Not everything you do wrong will burn the customer relationship, but once you do it's very difficult to get it back.

          I love indies. I'm a former game developer myself, I have a personal project I work on while working corporate development. It's a genuine joy for me to see how vibrant the indie scene is right now, and to see indie games succeed. This ain't it though.

        There is no way in the world that this deal was a bad decision.

        They've already made their minimum sales they were hoping to achieve.
        That's great news, and would take a huge amount of stress and uncertainty away from them, especially since it's just the two of them who have been making this game since 2016.

        How they handled the announcement might not have been the best (I didn't think there was anything wrong, personally. It is low stakes video game stuff, let's be real here), but the actual deal was probably such a huge accomplishment for them.

        Good on them for coming this far and for reaching their minimum sales amount! Hopefully that helps them expand and to help fund their next game also!

        Last edited 06/08/19 1:03 pm

          I appreciate that you don't personally see the ways this can turn out bad, but I've got enough experience in the industry to have seen very similar things to this go south very quickly. This was a high risk decision, not a no-brainer.

            You've responded to a position with an argument to go with it to essentially "no".

            Why do you think it is a high risk decision?

              I didn't feel the need to repeat the example I gave right at the start of this thread. I have a more detailed explanation in my reply to actionflash just above.

        You'd have to be an idiot to think that a short-term payoff is worth exchanging long-term reputation for.

        I don’t get why it has to be an either/or situation. Either they can get a great deal that will propel their business OR they can avoid the collective ire of the “active online gaming community voice”*, but not both? That’s a shitty balance.

        This subset of gamers are awfully entitled - they want everything delivered to them in a product that pleases them and in a way that pleases them and they absolutely will not compromise on their demands, and if they don’t get it then brace for the deluge of online abuse. Why do we assume that the convenience of the gamer should take absolute priority over the success of the developer? Why is the developer the bad guy for making choices that allow them to continue doing what they (and we) love?

        Yes, there are issues with Epic, but literally every online digital content distribution platform has issues that people complain about. At the end of the day, the consumer doesn’t have to pay any more for the product as it’s a free launcher. Sure, they might not get all the features they feel entitled to, but that’s life: you don’t get everything you want, when and how you want it. There are more factors at play than the end-users’ convenience.

        *I used this awkward classifier because not all gamers are vocal or even care about this stuff. It’s the ones who kick and scream online that I’m referring to.

          It's not either/or. There are plenty of great deals they could get that don't raise the ire of consumers. This deal is not one of them; this deal does raise the ire of consumers.

          I'm not going to rehash the arguments for why Epic's store and its exclusivity approach are harmful to both consumers and the industry, that's been done ad nauseum in other articles. I will state, repeatedly and as often as necessary, that it's not about convenience and never was. That's a straw man and continually putting it forward as the reason is wilfully missing the point.

            Sometimes when you’re small-time you gotta take what help you can get and I don’t think anyone should begrudge them that. Keeping your studio viable takes priority over the demands of an entitled subset of your audience. I’m sure if Steam offered them a similar deal they would have taken it.

            Here’s a very specific example that applies to me. Emagic made audio software called Logic, it was available for Macintosh and Windows. Apple acquired Emagic in 2002 and thus exclusivity. Do I wish Logic was still available for Windows? You bet. I dislike that I have to pay Apple premium prices to use the software. But in making this decision that inconvenienced me as a consumer they were afforded the budget and resources to improve and build on the software that I use and love today.

            I’m not saying convenience is the only argument, my point is that consumers believe that they are entitled to everything exactly how and when they want it, and that is a really unproductive mindset that hurts the industry (not saying exclusivity deals don’t have their own impact, I’m just commenting on blind consumer entitlement).

              It's not entitlement, it's choice ... just like it was the choice of the developers to take the exclusivity deal with EGS. Every choice has consequences. What they effectively did was choose a path laid out before them and yelled out at the same time, "this is the best path for us, I don't care if you don't like this path because you are entitled and toxic". There is no business too big that doesn't look into what is more desirable for the consumers and adjusts their business decisions accordingly. These developers knew there would be some level of backlash, but instead of attempting to mitigate the damage they threw fuel on the fire.

              The customer/consumer IS what keeps these studios alive. Without them they are nothing. You can't talk down to potential sales, to dictate the terms and belittle those with concerns about the path chosen, effectively saying 'I don't care what you think. Too bad, so sad'. Of course that's going to turn people off. They would've been better off simply stating they felt it was the best option for them and apologise to those who felt otherwise, or simply to have said nothing at all. Instead they chose to use condescending language. It's that simple.

                It's not entitlement, it's choice ...

                It’s feeling entitled to a choice.

                The customer/consumer IS what keeps these studios alive. Without them they are nothing. You can't talk down to potential sales, to dictate the terms and belittle those with concerns about the path chosen, effectively saying 'I don't care what you think.

                The customer is a big part of what keeps studios alive but not the entire equation, as this deal has shown. Customers provide the revenue after a product has been released (or sometimes before in the case of pre-orders) but there needs to be cashflow during development - this is where deal like they signed with Epic are beneficial. Also, they are not talking down to all consumers. That statement wasn’t addressing impartial or unconcerned consumers (which is likely the majority). It was only addressing the ones that they predicted would behave in a vitriolic and negative way (a vocal minority). He said as much in this quote:

                I don’t expect much of our uniquely-lovely community to fit into this weird anti-Epic contingent

                Yeah, the tone was a bit glib, but I kinda enjoyed his take. This subset of gamers are so used to being coddled and apologised to and using social media pressure to get their way, it was an interesting change to see a developer go on an unapologetically forward rant. “We made this decision for the benefit of the product and we don’t care if you don’t like it”. It blew up in his face, as expected, but it was interesting to see nonetheless.

                  It’s feeling entitled to a choice.
                  No, I'm pretty sure it's just choice. There will be people that will buy the game on EGS, and there will be the people who won't buy it. People voicing there distaste and concern about something doesn't automatically qualify them as 'being entitled'. Someone could easily say the same about any number of things that you may have done in the past. You've never made a complaint about something, or asked for something to be altered from the menu when ordering from a restaurant, etc? Imagine that every time you had a query about something, or wanted further resolution on a matter, that someone pointed a finger in your face and called you entitled. Aside from the stupid people going overboard with harassment, I don't see anyone 'demanding' anything. In fact I just see apathy, with people simply stating that they won't buy the game. I don't see how that's doing anything wrong. Is someone really being entitled simply because they make a statement, something to the effect of, "I'm no longer buying the game now"? That's a choice they're allowed to make and voice.

                  The customer is a big part of what keeps studios alive but not the entire equation, as this deal has shown. Customers provide the revenue after a product has been released (or sometimes before in the case of pre-orders) but there needs to be cashflow during development - this is where deal like they signed with Epic are beneficial.
                  Yes, but Epic are looking to make their money back. They aren't a 'developer charity' that is handing out money because they want to be the patron saints of gaming (even though Sweeney loves to paint himself as such). They see the games as having potential, they want them to be sold exclusively on EGS, and they expect a return on the hype and popularity. Granted they aren't looking to break sales records, but they certainly want to recoup the money they've invested. Fortnight revenue will only last so long, they won't have an unlimited supply of funds to dole out for the sole purpose of keeping games off competing platforms. And that's where the customer comes in. If there aren't enough people buying the game at the end of the day, then it's ultimately doomed to be a failure. No getting around that.

                  Also, they are not talking down to all consumers. That statement wasn’t addressing impartial or unconcerned consumers (which is likely the majority). It was only addressing the ones that they predicted would behave in a vitriolic and negative way (a vocal minority)
                  OK, then why is the overwhelming response to this negative then? Look at ANY video covering this on YouTube and find me just *one* that puts this situation in a positive light. Jim Sterling actually made his video on the matter private because, and I quote ...

                  "In the wake of the Ooblets team being dogpiled, harassed, and threatened over their Epic exclusivity, I've made my video on the topic private for now. The harassment is not fucking on and I don't want to even indirectly encourage it."

                  But the fact of the matter remains that he did have a very negative take on the way the developers handled the situation. The majority response was to thumbs up his video, the majority of comments agreeing with what he said and claiming that, "they're glad to know who the developers are and what their unfiltered thoughts were on the matter, and that they can now put them on a list of developers to never buy games from", etc.

                  It's roughly the same thing for YongYea's video, and for TheQuartering's video (with almost 250,000 and over 150,000 views respectively). They both took umbrage with how the situation was handled, and the majority response is clearly thumbing up the videos and showing support in the comments section. Also, it appears that the majority of comments on the developers twitter page is negative as well. It hardly seems to me as though the backlash is only from a small minority. I somehow doubt there is as many times that amount of people sitting silently, in support of the devs, just waiting to buy the game from EGS.

                  It blew up in his face, as expected
                  Yes, that's exactly what happened. I don't see how anyone could call that successful. It did nothing but make the situation worse. It would have been infinitely more productive to have said nothing at all. But, no, they had to get smart about it, acting as though they knew better, and that it was time to 'set people straight' on how things oughta be. People just want to buy the game where they want to buy the game ... they don't need the sarcasm and tone.

                  Anyhow, that was much more than I intended to write. Sorry for the wall of text. I'm going to remove the thumbs down on your comments because you seem like a pretty reasonable person. Sorry, it just irks me to see the word 'entitled' being thrown around because people want choice. I fully understand why people don't want to use the Epic Launcher. I have not used it to date, and I don't plan on changing that anytime soon. At the end of the day it's hard to know how EGS exclusivity affects sales. So far NO publisher or developer have released actual hard numbers on any of their games on that platform. That in itself seems kind of suspect if you ask me. Don't you think if the numbers were amazing, that they would publish them and sing highly of its praises (like how it usually happens for a lot of games that sell even moderately well)? Instead you hear statements like, "sales were satisfactory and met expectations". That doesn't sound like amazing results to me, but what do I know?

                Sorry, replying here because the thread went too far and wouldn't let me reply.

                People voicing there distaste and concern about something doesn't automatically qualify them as 'being entitled’.

                Sorry, I don’t think I was clear enough about who I was talking about in my post. I was referring solely to the enraged people slinging abuse and ultimatums. Consumer choice and voting with your clicks is definitely a valid and effective thing and people are of course entitled (I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean it is within their rights) to not buy a product for whatever reason they see fit. What I take issue with is the vitriolic and hyperbolic hate that some people are slinging and the language they often use in their comments exudes negative entitlement. They are in a blind rage because they are not getting what they want and they don’t consider any reason to be good enough.

                Fortnight revenue will only last so long, they won't have an unlimited supply of funds to dole out for the sole purpose of keeping games off competing platforms. And that's where the customer comes in.

                Agreed. I wasn’t trying to make Epic out as some good samaritan of the game development world. More that, when a small studio is offered and enticing guarantee that takes some of the pressure off in regards to sales targets, then I don’t think gamers should automatically crucify them. Granted, a lot of people are more pissed off about the way the decision was communicated, but there are always a vocal contingent that are stoking the anti-Epic fire.

                Also, it appears that the majority of comments on the developers twitter page is negative as well. It hardly seems to me as though the backlash is only from a small minority. I somehow doubt there is as many times that amount of people sitting silently, in support of the devs, just waiting to buy the game from EGS.

                I don’t think I agree here. People seek out opinions that validate their own opinions. If people are upset about it, they will YouTube search videos that align with their outrage and will upvote and comment on them in agreement. I think, as with most things, there is a mild and indifferent audience that vastly outweighs this vocal contingency. People who don’t keep up to date with game development news, and people who don’t really care either way about the politics of digital delivery. These people are either blissfully ignorant to all this drama or don’t care enough to seek it out or weigh in with opinion. Especially with a game that is targeted at a pretty casual audience. If this was a hardcore game, like a 4X, or RPG, or some kinda of niche simulator then I'd agree with you more as the intersection of people that have strong opinions who are also the target demographic would be higher.

                Yes, that's exactly what happened. I don't see how anyone could call that successful. It did nothing but make the situation worse.

                Agreed. It was a bad PR move and was very unsuccessful at winning people over. It was an interesting take though.

                Sorry for the wall of text. I'm going to remove the thumbs down on your comments because you seem like a pretty reasonable person. Sorry, it just irks me to see the word 'entitled' being thrown around because people want choice.

                All good, thanks for engaging, I appreciate it.

      I do not refer to myself as a gamer anymore due to the horrible reputation that they have.
      I never did before because I always thought it was a silly term (I love books, but I'm not a 'booker', I love films but I'm not a 'filmer' - yes game can be used as a verb, but the label felt weird and exclusionary even before the bullshit with GamerGate etc. started in ways that other fandoms and subcultures didn't) but now I avoid saying I like games at all to people I don't know, partially because I'm worried I'll be grouped in with the dickheads and partially because I'm worried they'll be one of them.

      The vocal, gross part of the community (and boy I wish it was small, but I'm starting to think it actually isn't) is so toxic that I've legitimately considered avoiding the medium all-together. Goddamn, the amount of gross crap that comes from fans of the same things I'm a fan of has honestly started to leech into and poison my perception of the whole medium I love in a way that hasn't ever happened in any other medium / fandom / subculture I've loved. It's pathetic, it's upsetting and sadly it's expected now. This is 'gaming', and it's a dirty secret for me instead of a hobby I can be proud of.
      Grow up indeed.

    On the one hand I think that Epic are two-faced scum who constantly hide their true intentions, but on the other hand I also think that they genuinely do want to see change and are just going about it in the entirely wrong way. Good to see them taking the side of the developer here.

    To the rest of you, please stop making the gaming community a cesspool of vitriol and hatred towards everything that doesn't immediately serve your own interests. Some of us just want to enjoy our hobby without having to put up with the negative public perceptions you're bringing upon us.

      To the rest of you

      thank you almighty gamer deity without your esteemed guidance.. i can't keep this going sorry.

      how about you don't be a sanctimonious jackass and try to antagonise everyone at the same time. if i was giving you a generous interpretation i would say the "rest of you" referred to anyone who doesn't take the devs side, so your saying anyone who isn't in line with the devs on this who have actually behaved in a shitty manner is giving gamers a bad name...wow if this isn't one of the most surface level uniformed opinions i see this week i will be shocked.

        Jesus Christ. The rest of you isn't everyone that disagrees with signing the deal or feels miffed about it being an Epic exclusive - it's the ones stirring up vitriol, hatred and abuse and directing it at some indie devs who probably thought their post would come across as cute and tongue in cheek.

        If you are in that group then you deserve every bit of criticism you get, but If you're just unhappy or annoyed and don't turn it into a death threat or attempt to defame some devs you aren't part of the problem. How do you whip yourself up into such a fervor over 5 words and your misunderstanding of them?

          perhaps you are right and he indeed was only referring to the people sending death threats i doubt it but maybe you are right.

          my fervor might have more to do with some people bending themselves like pretzels to defend these devs and the shitty behavior on display, if the original post you are referring to is the one i'm thinking off then yeah i think it was meant to be tongue in cheek. Irrelevant since they crapped all over fans and others as soon as they got backlash. i am not defending the bloody death threats and other unacceptable behavior but most of the backlash was people being legitimately pissed off by the subsequent behavior. This isn't a story of poor little indie devs just taking some needed capital from EGS and skipping along until a deluge of abuse fell out of the sky for no reason, they abused their own customers and the wider gaming community.

          i never had any intention of buying this game so i never got involved in the argument with the devs and their fans/consumers over signing up with EGS, when it changed to abusing the consumers that reached out and became it's own mini storm of bullshit and hot takes we find ourselves in now where any and all shitty behavior on the part of the devs is ignored or countered with the same tired old shit "they got death threats" well excuse me for becoming annoyed that this is happening yet again.

          Not one single time have these devs answered any of the legitimate criticism and they don't have to because the gaming press and everybody else it seems just counter with "but my death threats", i have seen this movie before. The excuse "somebody death threatened me" is not an appropriate answer unless the question is have you been receiving threats?

          instead we have yet again no accountability no apologies just i'm a victim therefore i don't have to answer for my own actions.... fantastic maybe ill do the same and from now on when anybody critiques anything i say i will just clap back with people on the internet sent me death threats.

    At this point you'd have to imagine the best way to deal with the backlash of announcing your game is EGS exclusive is to just do nothing. Announce it then go media silent. Soon enough another game will make a similar announcement and distract the attention elsewhere.

      if i was releasing a game right now i would try and strike an exclusivity deal with steam like a 12 minute exclusivity or something for the lols

    Nobody likes exclusivity. The fact that other mediums can get away with it is not an excuse.

    The issue from my point if view is that these exclusives aren't console-specific exclusives like you see at microsoft etc, nor are they producer-owned platform exclusives like origin, uplay etc, but rather they are point-of-sale exclusives. You can buy an xbox game from any number of retailers online. By restricting digital sales to the epic store, they are denying customers the right to choose their point of purchase for that game. And that is why as long as Epic continue to promote this exclusivity deal to producers, I will never buy a single game through the Epic store, as I detest the anti-competitive nature of such deals

      But how is it less anti-competitive than Sony acquiring Sucker Punch, Steam acquiring Campo Santo or Microsoft acquiring Obsidian? I still don't understand this hypespecific argument that means you are fine with publishers limiting games to only their storefront but not Epic. Do you refuse to buy from Sony and Microsoft because of the timed exclusivity of Nier Automata and Rise of the Tomb Raider respectively?

      Or is it just that your library is currently all in one spot and you don't want to have to deal with two launchers? (To be clear, this is why I'm not buying anything from Epic right now, but I have no issue being up front that it's not a moral choice, more of a convenient one)

        I can walk into literally thousands of stores to buy a ps4 game by any publisher. I can pick the store i want to deal with and find who has the best price.
        An epic exclusive i can only buy from epic. I have no choice at all.

        Acquisitions are a somewhat different beast but can also land you in the same Antitrust hot water as snapping up as many exclusives as you can. Which is the problem. It's not that Epic has a few exclusives tucked under their belt to add a bit of spice to their offerings, they are deliberately making anyone that wants to sell with them sign an exclusivity agreement so they can monopolise the critical sales period and force Valve to meet their demand for change.

        It's having a negative impact on the industry too because devs have the choice of either Epic or everyone else which means that since devs want as much money as they can get they're signing over to Epic rather than selling on all of the other storefronts. In turn, the other storefronts are getting starved out during the exclusivity period and the smaller ones like GOG have already felt the pinch and had to both downsize and end consumer benefit schemes.

        Consumers are also getting nothing out of this either from what I've seen, the prices are still retail price even though the devs can afford to charge less and still make more than on a 30-70 share. There's nothing we can do though, we can't go elsewhere because the only place these games are available is on the Epic store.

          I haven't heard of Epic pressuring devs into signing an exclusive deals, any examples you can send me? That would make me rethink the whole thing.

          As for passing on savings to the customer, I don't actually want that. Games aren't really that expensive these days, especially for what we are getting. Even without factoring in inflation, we can now buy AAA games for around 40% less than what we spent in the 90s. The price tag on most of Epic exclusives is even less. I'd much rather developers get to keep a larger slice of the price point, and hopefully keep them in business and independent.

            https://www.kotaku.com.au/2019/08/skatebird-devs-say-epic-turned-down-their-game-because-theyre-focusing-on-exclusives/

            It's not exactly evidence of Epic putting pressure on a dev to go exclusive, but it does show very clearly that Epic are only interested in acquiring exclusive deals, otherwise they don't want to know about you. I admire that the SkateBIRD devs didn't ditch their promise of Steam keys to their Kickstarter supporters in order to sell out to EGS like others have done.

            I've never installed the Epic launcher, not even for the free games. I don't like what Epic represent. No game will make me decide otherwise. I'm not a Steam loyalist, but I have hundreds of games there, so having Steam installed on my PC makes sense (and they have never gone looking to sign up games exclusively, and the 70/30 split is standard on the consoles so I don't know why everyone makes a big deal about it when it comes to Steam).

            The only game I really want that is currently an EGS exclusive (so far) is Metro Exodus. I have the other two Metro games on Steam, it's only a matter of time before Exodus is available there as well. Timed exclusives? It's not really a problem for me, I can wait (by which time it will be all patched up, no glaring bugs or technical problems, all DLC already available)

            And also what Camm says (in response to the cost of games) - you are forgetting that a lot of these AAA companies are including MTX's and are also making record profits, on top of laying off staff while CEO's carve out massive bonuses for themselves, and now the mention of tax avoidance ... but still, somehow, it's always deemed a 'necessary evil' by many. Also, from my research, games on Epic are most definitely not cheaper on average. So much for those savings being passed along (I knew that was rubbish the moment I heard it).

              It's important to note that while you only mention microtransactions, Epic should be noted for removing loot boxes from Fortnite and Rocket League (as announced today), there's every chance that they are just trying to get ahead of what feels like inevitable legislation, but nonetheless, it's still a positive.

    Come on Nathan, the tone of the Ooblets developers was the actual reason for most of the people's panties getting in a twist.

    And their discord posts.

      No surprise there. Don't look at how the developers broached the situation, Nathan. They didn't speak in a condescending and/or belittling way whatsoever, right? Just look at all those toxic/baby gamers who are doing all the complaining, right? *rolls eyes* Look, I don't condone people that step over the line in response to this, but I think the general attitude is warranted.

    I'm waiting for the XXX parody: Booblets

    If the guy had kept his mouth closed it wouldn't have been half as bad but he kept on going with his twitter posting and so on and wouldn't just let people vent. It went from bad to worse because of him. His original statement was bad enough, he should've learned his lesson from that.

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