Epic Store Rage Has Gotten Out Of Hand

The developers of cutesy Animal Crossing-Pokemon mashup Ooblets just had a weekend from hell. After trying to preempt a tidal wave of rage over their newly announced Epic Games Store exclusivity, they got hit with a swirling tsunami of foaming-at-the-mouth anger, up to and including death threats and anti-Semitic hoaxes. This is the worst overreaction to an Epic deal that’s yet been publicised. It’s also part of a larger trend that the video game industry has let run rampant for far too long.

Wednesday, Ooblets designer Ben Wasser published a lengthy Medium post about the harassment that he and his sole teammate at development studio Glumberland, programmer/artist Rebecca Cordingley, have been subjected to.

In it, he discussed in detail what he’s only alluded to before, showing numerous screenshots of threatening, often racist and sexist abuse and pointing to coordinated efforts to storm the Ooblets Discord and propagate fabricated messages that made it look like Wasser said anti-Semitic things about gamers.

In part, he blamed the tone of his tongue-in-cheek announcement post for this, saying that while it’s the tone the Ooblets team has been using to communicate with fans since day one, it was a “stupid miscalculation on my part.”

It is, on no uncertain terms, insane to expect that anyone might have to deal with a reaction like this because of some slight snark in a post about what is to them very good news.

Actually, let’s just sit with that last point for a second: If you’re a fan of Ooblets, the Epic Store announcement is fantastic news. No, you don’t get to play it on Steam, and yes, the Epic Store is a weird, janky ghost town of a thing that’s improving at an alarmingly slow rate, but thanks to Epic’s funding, Ooblets and the studio making it are now guaranteed to survive.

Thrive, even, thanks to additional staff and resources. You’ve got to download another (free) client to play it, but you get the best possible version of the game you were looking forward to, and its creators get to keep eating, which is something that I’ve heard keeps people alive.

And yet, in reaction to this, people went ballistic, just like they have so many times before. This is our default now. Every tiny pinprick slight is a powder keg. Developers may as well have lit matches taped to their fingers, because any perceived “wrong” move is enough to set off an explosive consumer revolt.

And make no mistake, the people going after Ooblets were not fans, as evidenced by the fact that, according to Wasser, they didn’t even know how the game’s Patreon worked. Instead, they were self-described “consumers” and “potential customers” who felt like the game’s mere existence granted them some impossibly huge stake in its future. Wasser talked about this in his post:

“We’ve been told nonstop throughout this about how we must treat ‘consumers’ or ‘potential customers’ a certain way,” he said. “I understand the relationship people think they might be owed when they exchange money for goods or services, but the people using the terms consumers and potential customers here are doing so specifically because we’ve never actually sold them anything and don’t owe them anything at all... Whenever I’ve mentioned that we, as random people happening to be making a game, don’t owe these other random people anything, they become absolutely enraged. Some of the most apparently incendiary screenshots of things I’ve said are all along these lines.”

We need to face facts: This kind of mentality is a major force in video game culture. This is what a large number of people believe, and they use it as a justification to carry out sustained abuse and harassment.

“When presented with the reality of the damage inflicted, we’ve seen countless people effectively say ‘you were asking for it',” said Wasser. “According to that logic, anything anyone says that could rub someone the wrong way is cause for the internet to try to ruin their life. Either that, or our role as two people who had the nerve to make a video game made us valid targets in their minds.”

Things reached this deranged fever pitch, in part, because companies kowtowed to an increasingly caustic and abusive consumer culture. This culture, to be fair, is not always out of line (see: loot boxes, exploitative pricing from big publishers, and big companies generally behaving in questionable ways), but it frequently takes aim at individuals who have no actual power and contains people who are not opposed to using reprehensible mob tactics to achieve their goals — or just straight up deploying consumer-related concerns as an excuse to heap abuse on people and groups they hate.

While the concerns, targets, and participants are not always the same, it’s hard to ignore that many of these mob tactics were pioneered and refined on places like 4chan and 8chan, and by movements like Gamergate — other pernicious elements that the gaming industry has widely failed to condemn (and has even engaged with, in some cases).

In the world of PC gaming, Valve is the biggest example of a company that utterly failed to keep its audience in check. Valve spent years lingering in the shadows, resolutely remaining hands-off until everything caught on fire and even the metaphorical “This is fine” dog could no longer ignore the writing on the wall. Or the company got sued.

In this environment, PC gamers developed an oppositional relationship with game makers. Groups sprung up to police what they perceived as sketchy games—but, inevitably, they ended up going after perfectly legitimate developers, too. Users flooded forums when they were upset about changes to games or political stances or whatever else, with Valve leaving moderation to often-understaffed development teams instead of putting its foot down against abuse.

Review bombs became a viable tactic to tank games’ sales, and for a time, any game that ran afoul of the larger PC gaming consumer culture saw its score reduced to oblivion, with users dropping bombs over everything from pricing decisions to women and trans people in games.

Smaller developers, utterly lacking in systemic or institutional support, were forced to respond to these attacks, granting them credibility. The tactics worked, so people kept using them, their cause justified by the overarching idea that many developers are “lazy” and disingenuous — when, in reality, game development is mind-bogglingly difficult and takes time.

Recently, Valve has begun to take aim at some of these issues, but the damage is already done. Whether unknowingly or out of malice, Valve went on to fire the starting gun for this same audience to start giving Epic Store developers trouble. When publisher Deep Silver announced that Metro Exodus would be an Epic Store exclusive, Valve published a note on the game’s Steam store page calling the move “unfair.”

Inevitably, Steam review bombs of previous games in the series followed, as did harassment of individual developers and even the author of the books on which the Metro video game series is based. Soon, this became a pattern when any relatively high-profile game headed toward Epic’s (at least temporarily) greener pastures.

That brings us to Ooblets. The game’s developers are facing astounding abuse over what is — in the grand scheme of life, or even just media platforms — a minor change of scenery. But they’re not backing down.

“I recognise that none of this post equates to an apology in any way that a lot of the mob is trying to obtain, and that’s by design,” Wasser wrote in his Medium post. “While some of what I’ve said was definitely bad for PR, I stand behind it.

A portion of the gaming community is indeed horrendously toxic, entitled, immature, irrationally-angry, and prone to joining hate mobs over any inconsequential issue they can cook up. That was proven again through this entire experience. It was never my intention to alienate or antagonise anyone in our community who does not fit that description, and I hope that you can see my tone and pointed comments were not directed at you.”

And while Epic is, at the end of the day, an industry titan deserving of some of the scrutiny that gets hurled its way, it’s at least taking a stand instead of washing its hands of the situation like Valve and other big companies have for so long.

“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,” Epic said in a statement yesterday, concluding that it plans to “steadfastly support our partners throughout these challenges.”

So far, it seems like the company has been true to its word. “A lot of companies would’ve left us to deal with all of this on our own, but Epic has been by our side as our world has gone sideways,” said Wasser. “The fact that they care so much about a team and game as small as us proves to us that we made the right call in working with them, and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

That’s a step in the right direction, and hopefully one that other companies will follow. But the gaming industry has allowed this problem to grow and grow and grow over the course of many years, and it’s hard to see a future in which blowups like this don’t remain a regular occurrence. In his post, Wasser faced this sad reality.

“I hope that laying all this out helps in some way to lessen what pain is brought against whoever the next targets are, because we sadly know there will be many,” he said. “You should have opinions, disagree with things, make arguments, but don’t try to ruin people’s lives or jump on the bandwagon when it’s happening.

What happened to us is the result of people forgetting their humanity for the sake of participating in video game drama. Please have a little perspective before letting your mild annoyance lead to deeply hurting a fellow human being.”


Comments

    The thing I've learnt is this is a heart issue, not a head issue. No matter how much rational you can make for Epic exclusives, people feel like something is being taken away from them, and once someone is angry at a product or service, they will find reasons why they are mad.

    I can feel the hackles raising from other readers at just this headline "don't tell me my feelings on the subject aren't warranted, you're wrong and you're looking down on me".

    It's human nature, once you have a gut feeling about something, you'll find a way to rationalise it. I know I do.

      Meh.

      If Epic has a far better price on something I want, I'll consider purchasing there. However, I won't be buying any of their exclusives until they're available everywhere.

      Nice of them to be good to devs but limiting your powderkeg of a target customers at the same time? Inadvisable business practice.

      That being said, it's very easy to shrug your shoulders and walk away. People go way too far with the rage over these things.

        Problem is you cant know if their pricing is good until its available on multiple platforms. By the time a game is, its a moot point. EGS will have made their money, so will be putting the games on sale the moment Steam can sell them. Or should if they have any business sense.

        Personally I think EGS is bad for consumers and developers, not good. So my choice is to avoid them for anything but the freebies they're bribing us with. Others may disagree.

        A couple of their exclusives I will want to play, but thankfully they'll be on PS4 so I can avoid EGS.

        I agree.
        It seems so simple to me - all they had to do is make games cheaper than steam. People would have flocked to their store and praised them for it. The devs / publishers would still make more than they do on steam - everyone’s a winner!

        Instead they are forcing you to buy games at the same price, There is also something that doesn’t sit right with me when they take a game that has been paid for by fans via crowd funding etc, and then swoop in, and hold it ransom - dictating to those fans how they will play it - and then can’t understand why everyone is so upset.
        People don’t like being told what to do and how to feel, it never ends well.

          Cheaper prices like GoG constantly has? The same GoG that earlier this year had to let go a dozen staff due to financial difficulties?

          If you think mass audience won't stay where it's convenient even if it costs them more, you're overestimating mass audience.

          It's an open secret that a whole range of indies would rather just publish of Itch and sell it cheaper, but audiences down like having to do new things unless they have to.

          The fact is, without exclusives, Epic's store would languish and die.

            I don’t think you can compare it gog 1:1, gog is more niche and doesn’t have nearly the same amount of users that epic does... looking at the agreements that epic has with these developers/publishers, they are definitely losing money on every exclusive, especially with their small cut.
            The thing is, if they really want to succeed, and be a true competitor, it’s going to be a long hard road - at the moment they are just buying success, or the illusion of it - they are a very very very long way off having a store that can sustain itself and turn a profit. Will they languish & die? Maybe, maybe not. Tim has very deep pockets.

          Does Steam's distribution agreement actually allow this though? At least some stores have distribution agreements requiring that the list price not be higher than the list price on competing distribution platforms.

            In this country price fixing is illegal.

    I want to know how much Nathan is being paid by Epic. This is the third or fourth pro-Epic article from him in a week.

    Furthermore, Greyson calls out that 'consumers should find this news wonderful as extra funds will allow game improvements, without recognising that consumers initially funded this games development in the first place based on a feature set that yes, included being available on steam.

    I'm sick to death of Greyson minimising the only ability we as consumers have to force better behaviour from companies, and thats by protesting and refusing to buy from companies that impact our interests.

      Yes, I'm SURE Epic is paying him to write these articles! Or, maybe, he just has a different opinion to you?!
      the only ability we as consumers have to force better behaviour from companies, and thats by protesting and refusing to buy from companies that impact our interests.
      You don't have to protest, and you certainly don't need to behave some of these morons have highlighted in the Medium post. Maybe just don't buy the game and play something else instead?

        refusing to buy from companies that impact our interests.

        Way to convieniently ignore half that sentence.

        Also, sarcasm comes across odd on the internet. Its obvious that Grayson isn't being paid by Epic, but the voracity of his support of Epic is rather odd.

          As has already been pointed out, its really more that it happens to coincide with his hate towards Valve/Steam.

      This is absolute rancid garbage, on the same level as suggesting that companies pay reviewers for good review scores. (Want to know why it's garbage? See what happened to G2A when they tried to do it, the only actual instance in the last five years of this.)

      So it's clear: Nathan's written three articles about Ooblets since July 18, this one, Epic's response to support the developers on the weekend and the initial Ooblets announcement on the weekend. That's to be expected: I wrote similar articles about developers accepting or not accepting Epic exclusivity (like the SkateBIRD piece). It's topical, and this is very much his beat, and if he hadn't covered it, I probably would have. That's our jobs.

      Now, getting into the crux of the complaint -- people initially funding this game's development "based on a feature set that, yes, included being available on Steam".

      The argument that people funded Ooblets because of features that were inherent to Steam, and not primarily because of the game itself, I don't really buy. And let's address the reality of what the developers have repeatedly mentioned in the past week: this funding allows them not only to continue development, but also expand that development.

      That's a pretty strong use case for them accepting the deal, especially when they can go and launch on Steam later on anyway. The game that launches on Steam will be a better game than what it would have been without this deal, because they would have had to rush it out the door earlier, and with less staff on board. That's a hard fact of where the company was at.

      Users still have the option to not buy a game on Epic and just buy it on Steam later -- it's not like there aren't enough games to play.

      The last major point: that Nathan is "minimising the only ability we as consumers have to force better behaviour from companies".

      Absolutely not. The primary ability you have as a consumer is to not buy a video game. Not buying a game is a completely understandable, acceptable course of action.

      You know what's not an acceptable course of action? Telling the developers that they should "get knocked out and pissed on". Or that the developers should be sexually assaulted. Or that they should "have fun cutting yourself, kike". Or that "gamers" hope the game should be such a failure that their marriage collapses. There have been tens of thousands of messages like this in the last 72 hours.

      Like @snowee mentioned, a lot of this is a hugely emotional, not a rational response. And Nathan points out that a lot of companies have fostered this by playing into it, rather than taking a more active role in setting the tone of discussion.

      I'd write a bit more, but I've gotta duck into a meeting.

        Not sure where I endorsed hate speech Alex. But lets be brutally honest here, this situation wouldn't exist if:

        A: Developers & Publishers treated their customers with honesty. Ooblets for example was only able to be made thru the support of customers thru Patreon, which specifically called out platforms they were working towards.

        B: And if Epic treated their customers with a degree of respect and competed based on features and price.

          I didn't say you endorsed hate speech. I'm pointing to the crux of what Nathan is arguing: people are going way, way too far and not even stopping to consider the practical implications of why this decision was made.

          It's also a bit much to say Ooblets haven't been open and honest - their communications with their fanbase has been very open and frank over the last couple of years, and it's only recently that people who weren't original fans have gone over those posts and taken quotes and comments out, casting them as a slight against gamers. Players who have followed Ooblets from the beginning aren't the ones hugely upset here - it's potential consumers, players that generally didn't have a stake one way or another before all of this went down.

          I don't think the Epic complaint stacks up that much either, because most of the features people are comparing certainly weren't available on Steam when it launched, and weren't there for several years. It's like complaining that all early access games aren't fully finished products when they first launched. Platforms are always a work in progress. It's fine to say you won't invest in a platform until it has the features you want, but saying the creator isn't respecting their customers because they didn't launch with all of those - and they're competing against a platform that's been publicly accessible for almost 16 years - is a little unrealistic.

            Players who have followed Ooblets from the beginning aren't the ones hugely upset here - it's potential consumers, players that generally didn't have a stake one way or another before all of this went down.

            Considering their Patreon has shaved off 10% of its users since the announcement, thats a very broad statement that can't exactly be backed (and ignores every other project in the same boat that went thru Kickstarter).

            I don't think the Epic complaint stacks up that much either, because most of the features people are comparing certainly weren't available on Steam when it launched, and weren't there for several years.

            I too also compare 2007 to 2019. By that logic, we we should have wholeheartedly supported Direct2Drive & GamersGate and bought games from them, rather than choosing based on their lack of features to buy games elsewhere.

            It's fine to say you won't invest in a platform until it has the features you want, but saying the creator isn't respecting their customers because they didn't launch with all of those - and they're competing against a platform that's been publicly accessible for almost 16 years - is a little unrealistic.

            Epic is a company that is worth and earning how many billion now? These features aren't hard to develop, are roadmapped by 20 years or so of industry maturity, and even without considering that, argument falls flat considering Sweeneys comments to developers extolling the lack of certain features such as reviews and curation as features to developers.

              Camm, did you back Ooblets?
              If not, it might be time for a bit of shush.

            It's fine to say you won't invest in a platform until it has the features you want, but saying the creator isn't respecting their customers because they didn't launch with all of those - and they're competing against a platform that's been publicly accessible for almost 16 years - is a little unrealistic

            A good summary of how many people feel about that particular point:

            https://youtu.be/rFNB7MHt1ss?t=305

              That is pretty fantastic. Cheers for the laugh.

              But then SkillUp just goes on and makes the same point - a platform isn't going to have all the same features when it's new. It might have more features at launch than what something built earlier would have, but it's not going to have *everything*. They don't mention specifically what makes the storefront crappy to use, but I think we can agree there's definitely a overdose of hyperbole whenever EGS is mentioned.

              And saying Epic is worth X billions doesn't mean you can just flick a switch and have 1000 people switch tack to working on a store. It's a different product from a game or engine development. Throwing money at the problem and hiring more staff helps, but it takes time to get all of those people on the same page and in the same pipeline. That's the nature of development; this stuff takes a lot longer than people think, especially in the case of Epic where they're retooling this to be a storefront for mobiles, adding a whole other layer of complication that other storefronts don't have. (For clarity: Steam is on mobiles, but it doesn't really service mobile games, whereas Epic Games is building basically their own rival storefront to Google Play.)

              Again: totally OK not to use a store because it doesn't have all the things you want, but saying the developer isn't respecting users because they're not in yet -- because that's how development pans out -- doesn't really hold up. I've said that a few times, but it keeps getting ignored, so I'll just mention it again.

              (BTW @camm, the developer has more patreons now than they did this time last month, and before all of this fired up. https://graphtreon.com/creator/nonplayercat)

              And as others pointed out: where's the hate on Sony because Bloodborne hasn't been ported to PC? Or Death Stranding being a PS4 exclusive? Where was the hate on Xbox for Rise of the Tomb Raider being a timed Xbox One exclusive, a situation which mirrors this much more closely?

              Repeating myself here, nobody is saying that timed exclusives are good or great -- but it makes total sense for the indie developers in this situation, and the way people have responded compared to similar situations in the past is taking it a bit far.

                (BTW @camm, the developer has more patreons now than they did this time last month, and before all of this fired up. https://graphtreon.com/creator/nonplayercat)

                And as others pointed out: where's the hate on Sony because Bloodborne hasn't been ported to PC? Or Death Stranding being a PS4 exclusive? Where was the hate on Xbox for Rise of the Tomb Raider being a timed Xbox One exclusive, a situation which mirrors this much more closely?

                I'll take that I misread Patreons graph when making that (its earnings that have dropped).

                Also, yeah, there has been plenty on all of the above. Its just not as vocal.

                Epic doesn't 'own' PC as a platform like Microsoft owns Xbox or Sony owns Playstation, of which the PC has existed with multiple platforms campaigning on features, and the only exclusives being from developers who also own the store they are running on. So its a bit of a false equilivancy on your part. I would argue many who play on PC do so by its greater choice, which you immediately disregard when making a console purchase.

                Look, I get that you don't really care on the nuances, and we can all agree that the edge vitirol shouldn't have happened, but I'm going to state fairly plainly that just because you don't care that you and others continue to be taken for granted by these businesses, doesn't mean that others don't, and its been plainly apparent that Epic's focus on developers and publishers exclusively will continue to be a detriment to consumers.

                  PC gamers, in general, have more of a sense of... ownership? of their platform. I don't want to use the word entitlement here, but I definitely think that part of the reason there's outrage over EGS exclusives is due to PC gamers feeling more like they have more say and control in the platform than console gamers do.

                  I guess it's the idea of the PC being an "open" platform (even though it isn't truly open at all) and the fact that you can build your own PC, something you can't do with a console.

                Haven't you noticed that gamers lately seem to be behaving like spoilt children with dirty nappies?

            Hello all. Nice support :D

            Everyone seems to forget in their rage that Patreon is not a Kickstarter. It’s for people to show support to artists without them feeling obligated to change their development to cater to you.

            There was also legitimate concerns from followers such as Epic not having Linux support. Personally my biggest let down is it no longer being on the PC microsoft store and dropping Play Anywhere. However at the end of the day, developers have to do what is best for their game.

            The discord server is such a great community and built around other game devs and artists which helps with having a more level headed approach to the decision. It also makes it a great place to find some good itch.io games members have made and share ;).

            The best thing that has come out of this hate is all the new fans. Over the few days I’ve seen people that have initially joined to complain and join in the raids but decided to stay and help defend the developers, even become new Patreon members. There’s even been people that have made other accounts to ban evade just to apologise for their behaviour and give the devs their best wishes.

            Side note: every time I create an account it never sends me a verification email (not in junk) or let me sign in ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        And Nathan points out that a lot of companies have fostered this by playing into it, rather than taking a more active role in setting the tone of discussion.
        Yet he absolutely hammers on how Valve is to blame for things left and right. He has very clearly had an axe to grind against Valve for years at this point, you can see it in pretty much every article of his where Valve or Steam comes up.

        Hell, most of them are linked to in this very article... And are chock full of him slamming Valve for doing, or simply not doing, things all because he personally believes this or that.

        Also in this very article he blames Valve for not 'keeping their audience in check'. Literally blaming them for not controlling other people. That is as insane and unreasonable as people blaming Epic for the harassment people are receiving.

        And you're defending someone who does things like this routinely?

        Fuck me I thought the bar to what professionals in your industry (hell, any industry) were holding themselves to was much higher. Consider me quite corrected.

        Last edited 07/08/19 2:57 pm

          It's not hammering Valve by pointing out legitimate criticisms of the platform. This is the company that literally told an Australian court that they didn't do business in Australia as a means of having to avoid refunds, remember. It's a company that has confused the hell out of developers for years with vague, unclear policies and approaches. It's a company that has allowed pockets of their forums to foster neo-nazis and genuine bigotry. It's a company that has allowed its storefront to be flooded with shovelware and other trash, making it difficult for users to discover fresh content. That's part of the Valve audience, too: people using the platform to make money.

          And let's not even start with the absolute nightmare that is the constant grey market of skins and skin trading, and how long Valve allowed that to operate.

          All of this is possible because it's a private platform, one Steam controls every inch of. So when someone says Valve isn't keeping their audience in check, it's because so many times Valve has just passively stood back instead of being proactive and heading problems off at the pass. Does Epic have this problem? No, and that's because they just can't facilitate a lot of that. (Which is also a fair criticism, and one that's been made!)

          Now the company isn't evil, obviously, but their not saints. It's our job to point out the complexities and nuances where possible; it's especially the job of people whose beat exclusively covers Steam to point out more than the surface level. That's part of reporting. It's not always going to be rosy or perfect or the things everyone wants to hear.

          And that's part of all of this reporting too. Nobody is saying any of the companies involved are perfect or that everything is totally fine. It's colouring in the sides, painting the full picture. Doing so isn't tantamount to grinding axes; it's just our job, and it's our responsibility to talk about these things and write these stories that, ordinarily, would just get lost in the noise of the internet moving from the next game to the next game to the next game.

          And because it really needs to be said - even though it shouldn't - criticising Valve for one thing doesn't mean you're supporting another company. And welcoming Epic for supporting the Ooblets developers doesn't mean it's carte blanche acceptance of the entire platform, as @camm seems to be alluding to a little when he mentions "the voracity of [Nathan]'s support".

          But that's where our discourse is at these days; everyone starts on the extremes, and you have to fight tooth and nail to remind everyone that we're all actually just hovering around the grey bits in the centre.

            But that's where our discourse is at these days; everyone starts on the extremes, and you have to fight tooth and nail to remind everyone that we're all actually just hovering around the grey bits in the centre.

            And where is your objectivity with the matter at hand? Once upon a time being a journalist meant you put bias aside and remained neutral in your observations ... something which I believe is clearly lacking here (honestly, I don't see a lot 'hovering around the grey bits in the centre'). No one here is holding any responsibility towards the actions of the developers, that they might have used the completely wrong kind of language and tone when making a statement about accepting the exclusivity deal with Epic. It's all:

            LOOK HOW BAD THESE PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET ARE, GUYS! ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO DISLIKE EPIC FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER! IT'S ALL BEEN BLOWN WAY OUT OF PROPORTION! IT MOST DEFINITELY COULDN'T HAVE BEEN ANYTHING TO DO WITH WHAT THE DEVELOPERS SAID. NOPE, GAMERS REALLY ARE JUST A BUNCH OF TOXICS.

            Sorry, but you seriously need to see what people are saying out there. All the big YouTubers (YongYea, Jim Sterling, Laymen Gaming, Bellular News, TheQuartering, etc) are ALL saying how the developers handled the situation poorly. Jim has even made his original video private to try and ease some of what's taking place, but I watched his original video and it was *very* scathing towards the developers. None of them condone the extreme nature that some people have resorted to, but they clearly understand that a hornets nest was poked.

            What's happening *here*, as far as I can tell, is that everyone who's got a problem with EGS exclusivity are being tarred with the same brush ... perhaps not painstakingly articulated that way, but cleverly and vaguely constructed as such. It's almost as though there is a pity party for the developers, and at the same time anyone who dares utter a single negative word about how the developers broached the subject are made to feel somewhat invalid.

            I've never sent a threatening message to anyone in my entire life, and I'm certainly not about to start now over a game with little dancing monsters, so please don't start trying to lump me in with all those neanderthals who weaponize anonymity and hateful language, who have clearly missed out on developing the most basic forms of etiquette. My point is simply that you are further angering people by refusing to acknowledge the actions of EVERYONE involved. It's OK to identify that there are in fact people who don't like Epic and who possibly have valid reasons for being that way, and that it might have been better for the developers to use a completely different approach in announcing their statement.

            That may actually help ease some of that growing rift in the community, you know? Or I guess you could continue to drive that wedge in even further by - more often than not - painting Epic (and everything that surrounds it) in the best possible light.

              I'm diving in here and engaging with everyone because, if we're being honest, that's what makes this a better place for all - when you can have a chat and engage beyond the story. I'm certain I've been super measured throughout, and I've reported on devs who opted not to go with Epic.

              And what you mention:
              It's OK to identify that there are in fact people who don't like Epic and who possibly have valid reasons for being that way

              I've said this many, many times, not just in this thread, but repeatedly in a lot of other threads too. I get why people don't want to use EGS, and I've not lumped you or anyone else in this thread with the people who have lobbied death threats or the like. (Although I've had to remove a few choice posts that, honestly ... you people know who you are. Cut that shit out.)

              What you say at the end kind of proves the point a little too: you're claiming that I'm painting Epic in the best possible light, even though I've just stated facts as they are. I also don't recall anyone levelling any of these criticisms at me when I reported that SkateBIRD wasn't jumping to the EGS, so it's ... weird that I'm getting hit with this now.

              Anyway, on the developers, since I didn't get around to that earlier today before getting pulled into meetings.

              I get that people coming across the Ooblets' dev posts only in the past week now might be a little "whoa". But they've communicated like that to their audience for the last two years. It's not out of form for them; their audience and fanbase was totally OK with it, otherwise there would have been a massive blowup earlier.

              And that's all I've been trying to do in this thread, is help paint in a bit of the nuance that a lot of this emotionally-charged discussion has steamrolled over. I bet that if they had a do-over, knowing that they were talking to a vastly bigger audience and a very different crowd when the EGS announcement dropped, they'd probably pick a different tone. But I get why they didn't either: they didn't expect that anything would really change. The game had been in the wild for years, it had a couple of E3 showings, and there was no reason to think that they'd be communicating to a different crowd. So they continued being themselves.

              But you only get that kind of hindsight after everything blows up. And the fact that everything has blown up is a little sad, if only because other developers (and the two-person team behind Ooblets now too) will look at this and be a little more couched themselves, more reserved in how they talk to the community and the wider internet.

              That's a loss for everyone, I think. The story here *should* be that Ooblets is going to be a better game, more people are employed as a result of this process, and everyone that gets to play Ooblets later this year, or next, is going to enjoy a better product as a result.

              But instead the developers are having to deal with faked screenshots and absurd nonsense, they're probably double-thinking how they communicate in the future, forum threads are going ballistic at how people are reacting, tempers are flared way, way, way beyond what is necessary ... it's a shame.

              None of this is a good outcome for anyone. No-one wins from this; no-one walks away smiling. That's where I'm at with all of this, if that makes sense. And hopefully you, and everyone else, know I'm always trying to engage with good faith here. I hope that hasn't been damaged by how tempers have flared today.

          we should shame an author for having an opinion?

          perhaps you are empowered with the knowledge that the author has an agenda, and by understanding this position you can read the article and extrapolate the underlying information without being offended by their personal opinions?

            We're talking about gamers here... the same ones who have been issuing death/rape threats/general hate towards anyone they disagree with.

      Speculating a Kotaku writer is a paid protector of Epic sounds like a Gamergate rehash. And really, getting better behaviour from companies (Epic) shouldn't stretch as far as hounding one-man-show developers, doxing people, death threats, reviewing bombing unreleased titles and other bullshit. Take the rant elsewhere.

        I covered both of these points above

        Also, sarcasm comes across odd on the internet. Its obvious that Grayson isn't being paid by Epic, but the voracity of his support of Epic is rather odd.

        and

        Not sure where I endorsed hate speech

      Oh dear Lord, two of the most inane arguments in a single comment.
      1. Just because someone has a differing opinion to you, doesn't mean they were paid to have it! Do you think left wingers think the right are paid to be such, and vice versa?

      2. The fact that it stated it was going to release on Steam is kinda a moot point as EGS hadn't been announced yet! Of course it didn't say it'd release on a not yet existing platform! But even if they had, did people back them because it's releasing on Steam? No, they backed them because it seemed like a neat game.

      But even if somehow you can pose a proper argument, it absolutely, 100% does NOT excuse harassment and mob behaviour

    My only concern with it is in cases where a game has been crowdfunded with the promise of Steam keys or, in some cases, already taken pre-orders on Steam and then they change direction later and make it Epic exclusive.

    Other than those situations, if a developer can get themselves a good deal for exclusivity from Epic then good luck to them.

      As far as I can tell through my reading, neither of these things were offered in the Ooblets Patreon. Subscription to the Patreon did not guarantee explicitly or implicitly any pre-order advantages or access to the game through a particular storefront. I'm not a subscriber though, so I'm not privy to the content or any communications to subscribers. Publicly, the only things the Patreon offers are:

      Email updates from [the developer]
      Early access to devlogs, videos, and other info
      Behind-the-scenes stuff
      Vote on stuff for the game
      Supporter channel/role on Discord
      Wallpapers sometimes!
      Other stuff [the developer] think(s) of

    While I agree with the main thrust of the article and criticism of the dog piling, I find it interesting that you say the developer doesn't owe "potential consumers/customers" anything when Kotaku has explicitly criticized developers like From Soft for having the same mind set regarding difficulty.

      That's totally different though, as once you've bought the game you are a customer. As this game isn't out yet, they are only potential customers which isn't the same thing.

      Do you mean the article where I explicitly said an easy mode wouldn't work for Sekiro, and shelled out another implementation? Or the one article highlighting different ways in which difficulty could be implemented?

    My feeling is that any hate is wrong so I'm against everything that people are doing to this poor developer. However if they had just released on Steam as well as Epic Store then I don't imagine they would be garnering this level of hate.
    Which leads on to the point that if they went on Steam as well then they probably wouldn't have been invited to the Epic Store even though this article says they feel so cared for by them. I'm happy to wait for the games to arrive on steam some time later but I really can only see the Epic Store being the cause of all of this.

      Or gamers being spoilt children that throw a big tantrum when they don't get their own way even though they had no interest in the original game to begin with?

    Imagine being a person who gets upset over having to double click on a different application.

    Last edited 07/08/19 1:21 pm

      Imagine being someone who never chooses to look outside of their own perspective on things.

        Its a video game launcher, who honestly gives a shit? Man children and trolls.

    When the developers of Death Stranding, Shenmue III, The Last of Us 2 and all the other PS4 exclusives coming this year annouced did we see an upwelling of hate, death threats and review bombing occur? Oh wait, PS4 is a console, not PC...

      Shenmue 3 announcement was indeed met with hate, Death Stranding was an exclusive development and Last of Us 2 is from a Sony owned and funded studio, as are the majority of Playstations exclusives.
      There's a pretty big difference between buying up exclusives at the eleventh hour or crowd funded games and fully funding your own games/development houses.
      If Epic was doing the same you wouldn't see anything close to ge frustration and hate we are seeing now, buying

      For the sake of argument Sony and Microsoft moved away from this kid of aggressive exclusive purchasing after the exclusive wars did more damage than good.

    god forbid there are exlusives in business.

    you mean i can't play some ios apps on my android?
    you mean there are some shows on netflix that i cant watch on HBO?
    you mean i can't play some xbox games on my playstation?

    Its called doing business, seriously what is the anger?

    I agree the behaviours of some are unacceptable but we should make sure they aren't used as an excuse to invalidate the frustrations of those who aren't resorting to those extreme behaviours.
    We should rightfully condemn those who are taking things too far but it won't make the issues go away.

    It seems every other week Epic is sweeping in to buy up popular crowd funded games as exclusives or big ticket titles weeks before release.
    While I applaud some of the benefits that developers are seeing, those benefits are dependent on requirements that aren't palatable to many consumers and arguably not essential or necessary.

    We need to face facts: This kind of mentality is a major force in video game culture.But the gaming industry has allowed this problem to grow and grow and grow over the course of many years...This isn't specific to game culture or the gaming industry. This is a problem the world has allowed to grow over many years, and now the age of entitlement is well and truly upon us.

      Cannot agree enough. I don't know if it's that people have been brought up on the fallacy that the customer is always right, but society these days just reeks of entitlement. In the words of Frank Underwood: "You are entitled to nothing." Even fictional villains speak the truth sometimes.

    Screw you McDonald's for not selling me a Double Whopper! Mmmm, Whopper!

      I once worked the overnight shift at a 24 hour sevice station/cafe. Had someone ring at 3am and ask if we sold burgers. I said yes but only at lunch time, they then asked what kind of burgers we made. I told them, they then asked if we sold double whoppers. Point of my story is you jest but people really think that that is possible.(btw I thought they were taking the piss so I hung up, they then rang back at 8am when the manager started and put in a formal complaint about me) these are the type of people we are dealing with in this whole affair.

    I said in the other article posted what seems like a few hours ago, but if Ben Wasser could just keep his mouth closed for a while things would probably have been a lot better but he basically stoked the flames by talking back to the angry mob... and being a bit of a douche about it.

    Last edited 07/08/19 3:04 pm

      Yeah, pretty hard to see the value in standing up to the rancid hate of GGtypes, better to just go with the flow and hope you don't get doxxed, firebombed or murdered by the mob... worked a treat in Nazi Germany...

    Its almost like an outrage culture with people who constantly think 'they are in the right' act like they are anything but and refuse to address their own scummy actions.
    I wonder where ive seen that before.

    This is one of those issues that really get me down, the "Jerkass Has A Point" scenarios where everyone is wrong but the ones who started it end up being partly right.

    The one simple, immutable thing that cannot be challenged in this situation is that harassment and abuse are just WRONG. Threatening people, attempting to slander them by doctoring faked screenshots and all the other vile behavior of the gaming terrorist brigade is simply unacceptable and it needs to be opposed and stomped out. This isn't debatable, there is not "but..." attached to this part of the discussion.

    BUT... the simple fact is, Epic is the devil of PC gaming. I'm not exaggerating or being hyperbolic, the Epic Games Store is possibly the single worst thing ever to happen to PC gaming as a whole. Epic is making a serious and concerted effort to destroy the PC gaming market so they can take it over and monopolise it for their own profit, and they're making almost no attempt whatsoever to disguise this goal, or the absolute contempt they show for the gamers that -hey, get this- actually support the gaming industry! Without gamers, there IS no games industry, and Epic's attitude to their customers is "We don't care about you cattle, you'll use our store, NOT because it's in any way good or convenient or reliable or safe or in ANY way a quality product, but because we're not going to give you any other choice".

    And the thing is, while I'm again not defending or supporting the harassment, gamers can't help but see Epic as The Enemy of PC gamers- because that's basically what they are. Epic is the store that is entirely siding with the industry to treat the customers as cattle. They're encouraging and reinforcing the attitude of "We're going to do whatever we want and if you don't like it, you can suck it" and expecting gamers to tolerate that is just toxic. I don't believe that "the customer is always right" because a lot of customers really ARE selfish, stupid and entitled, but even less do I believe that "the customer is always wrong". So gamers can't help but see any developer that signs an exclusivity deal with Epic as siding with the enemy, selling their souls to the Satan of gaming. Gamers who recognise that Epic genuinely does want to take over the entire PC gaming industry (upon which they would undoubtedly jack up prices for less service, because why wouldn't they when they ALREADY display such naked contempt for customers?) actively WANT Epic to fail, purely for the sake of PC gaming itself. Competition against Valve is a good IDEA, but the Epic Games Store is the worst possible form of this competition- we wanted a competitor that would give as an alternative to Steam by being a better product, instead we have a competitor that is trying to forcefully supplant Steam by literally taking the industry hostage. With the existence of PC gaming on the line, is it any surprise that a lot of gamers see companies that sell out their games to Epic the same way the Resistance saw the Vichy Government in occupied France (possibly a rather hysterical comparison, but it gets the idea across)?

    Yes, it's good that Epic are standing by developers against harassment and abuse, rather than doing the Valve thing of just washing their hands of everything until it becomes their problem. This kind of behavior does need to be opposed. But that's because Epic are ONLY concerned with developers. Their goal is to monopolise the entire market, so they will ALWAYS put keeping developers onside over pleasing customers. It's easy to stand up for the people you're already bending over backwards for at the expense of everyone else. And all gamers see is more corporations banding together to screw the customers they already treat like walking wallets.

    Any way you look at it, this is easily the darkest time in gaming history since the Great Crash of 1983...

      BUT... the simple fact is, Epic is the devil of PC gaming. I'm not exaggerating or being hyperbolic, the Epic Games Store is possibly the single worst thing ever to happen to PC gaming as a whole. Epic is making a serious and concerted effort to destroy the PC gaming market so they can take it over and monopolise it for their own profit, and they're making almost no attempt whatsoever to disguise this goal, or the absolute contempt they show for the gamers that -hey, get this- actually support the gaming industry!

      Epic will never have a monopoly on PC gaming because they don't actually control the ecosystem - Microsoft does.

        Thats mostly false, as Microsoft would be sued into oblivion by anti-trust lawsuits if it started prohibiting platforms from installing.

          Having an inbuilt competitive advantage doesn't mean Microsoft would block other platforms from installing; I don't know where you got that from.

            That's the only way Microsoft can exercise against a monopoly in this case, as Epic is competing by exclusives. Doesn't matter if Microsoft has a store on PC if it has no\little titles to sell.

        Epic will never have a monopoly on PC gaming because they don't actually control the ecosystem - Microsoft does.
        Yet the argument I keep seeing, as to why Epic *has* to keep claiming exclusives in the manner it's been doing, is because it's the only way to fight against Steams MONOPOLY on PC gaming (which really isn't a thing in the same way that Epic operates as it's never paid for exclusivity as a way of withholding sale from other storefronts). Yet when someone questions this about being Epic's ultimate goal, then all of a sudden a monopoly couldn't even be a thing for them ... because Microsoft.

        Not saying that's what you've said personally, Alex, but you have to see how this can start to go around in circles after a while.

          Oh for sure. There's been plenty of that in this post alone.

          Looking forward to when we can talk about Other Video Games tomorrow (just finished writing one up, actually).

    I hope you guys (Kotaku as a whole) find some way of publishing sales figures in the future when the exclusives are no longer exclusive. Like how many copies of Shakedown Hawaii were sold on the Epic Store in first month vs how many were sold on Steam during it's first month.

      I'd love to do that, but that'll only ever happen if the developer or another related party releases those figures (like Nvidia saying how many copies Hollow Knight had sold, or Switch developers talking about their success on the eShop vs Steam/PS4/XBO etc).

      Best shot of this, TBH, is some developer talks at GDC or GCAP. US always have a few people in the room for the former, although I'd love to go myself one day. GCAP is in Melbourne though, so hopefully I can make it this year.

    Is the deal good for the publisher? Sure. Does the deal have the consumer's best interests in mind too? Unsure. Should a publisher consider their consumer when making deals to distribute their product? To some extent. Was the reaction way out of hand? Hell yes. Was it unexpected? No. Is this behaviour limited to the gaming community? No. Should it diminish people's valid concerns in regard's to Epic's business model? No.

    The PC platform is about choice and having the freedom to choose. There is also the factor of the choice leading to greater savings as although PCs can be expensive, overall the gaming experience is much cheaper. Sure, cost of entry into the Epic store is nothing just like any other brick and mortar store, but you shop at a place on more then just ease of entry. The only thing going for them is taking products that would have been available at many other stores and only giving you one place to buy that product. No discounts or incentives to do so. It is betting on limiting the supply to get you through the doors and to stay there. This behaviour isn't uncommon and a practise that has both succeeded and failed for other businesses in the past. This is not a new idea at all. The fact they are trying it with digital content not created by them is new ground though. I only see this hurting the smaller players and not steam at all. When Aldi came in it wasn't Coles or Woolworths that felt the pinch (although there from probably some small impact), it was independent grocers and IGA that were the worst hit. They do need something to define them otherwise they would end up like Masters trying to compete with Bunnings, but i think they took the easy route.

    My opinions on the matter are hypothetical what-ifs resulting from exclusivity which include impacts on pricing due to lack of competition (such as why put an item on sale if you can only get it one place? Or how often do you put an item on sale when you only get it one place) and cannot be fully supported or debunked given how little time that EGS has been around. However they have really started off on the wrong foot and I don't think they really understand that fact. Being treated like a wallet on two legs is never a nice feeling ( like with developers/publishers wanting to squeeze more and more money out of us). Especially when they seem to want to dictate where you should shop because it is better off for them. I sure as hell don't like being told I have to go to a specific place to buy something that I used to be able to get everywhere, or was told would be available in both small deli's and the bigger supermarkets. I may do it to support a local small brand but it is all about how that is communicated. But would I protest and vandalise if I didn't like the situation? No. I am protesting with my wallet. This just isn't enough for some people. This doesn't vocally express a person's frustrations as you can't coordinate the protest so the ever escalating behaviour of those disenfranchised people increase with no bounds. It is inevitable So i understand where it has come from even though i don't agree with the behaviour. Can it be stopped? Doubt it. Escalation is part of human nature.

    Something needs to be done but I can see this getting a lot worse in the future and honestly, when Epic stops doing exclusives for whatever reason, the hoard will see it as their victory and just get worse. I honestly wonder if Epic ever saw this coming because if they did expect this sort of discourse would it have changed their approach? I doubt it.

    Jesus Christ this is this the worlds biggest storm in the worlds smallest teacup.

    I feel bad for the Ooblets creators because it seems like they were the straw that broke the camels back. The hatred and vitriol they are receiving is because of who they chose to partner with, not because of the game itself. They've literally done nothing wrong, yet here we are. I hope Epic helps provide therapy for them or something once this is all over, seriously.

    If you're so mad about it being on the EGS, just wait until it is on Steam. Big deal.
    It is a timed exclusive. The exact same thing happened with Lara Croft where it was on Xbox for almost an entire year before it was on PS4, but the world didn't collapse like this.

    Not to mention the hundreds of games that are exclusive to Xbox / Playstation / Nintendo that you simply cannot get on PC to begin with, but again, the world hasn't collapsed. Like seriously, just download EGS if you want to play it straight away, or wait if you don't.

    And if you weren't going to play the game regardless and have no vested interest in it, then just move along. Let's be honest, it's kind of obvious a huge amount of people commenting weren't going to play it anyway. Do you really think people who are being anti-semitic or promoting self harm and sexual assault were really the people who were going to play a cutsie indie game to begin with? No.

    I swear, gamers act like the most entitled bratty toddlers. Tell them they can't have something and all of a sudden it's all they ever wanted.

    Honestly, game publishers and distributors should stand up to this behaviour. How I'm unsure, but it just keeps getting worse and worse at this point and the people saying this kind of shit need to be held accountable. Encouraging this kind of violence and hate speech is simply not acceptable

      Stop calling anyone who has concerns about Epic toddlers or entitled just because you don't share those concerns.

        If someone is acting like a toddler, I'm gonna call them a toddler.

          Someone really needs to change the spoilt babies nappies because they're pretty rank.

          You're not calling someone acting like a toddler a toddler, you're calling gamers toddlers. Don't do it. You can disagree without resorting to ad hominems.

          If you'd limited your scope to the people making threats I'd have agreed with you, but you didn't. You've been using that alternately on 'gamers' (no qualification) or on basically anyone who have a problem with Epic and its exclusivity. You did it in the last article too.

          The people making threats here are absolutely worthy of blasting. I just wish you'd narrow your criticism to them instead of scatter-shotting an entire hobby made up of millions of people, or the thousands of people who have a problem with what Epic's doing and express those concerns politely.

    'Epic Store Exclusivity Has Gotten Out Of Hand' would make for a more interesting title.

      Different issue. Epic aren't the ones making vile racist death threats.

      Last edited 08/08/19 1:03 am

        I agree on both counts. They're different issues, and the racist death threats are reprehensible. I said 'title' where perhaps I should have said 'article', to be more clear. I think an article on the escalating problem of Epic's exclusivity deals would be more interesting than this one was for a few reasons.

        First, I think articles like this have a tendency to absolve all criticism of something because a minority of idiots shit their pants and made threats. I don't think I've ever threatened violence or death on someone in my life (excepting a joking 'dude I will slap you' among friends), but I feel my concerns have been painted over and dismissed. That kind of dismissal does far more to raise the heat level among well-meaning people than, as the article alleges, companies kowtowing to consumers.

        Second, this was sadly a predictable turn of events. News doesn't have any obligation to only report on novel things, but I'm not saying it shouldn't have been reported either. Threats and shitty behaviour should be firmly called out, which the article was right to do (although could have done it a bit more targeted, as mentioned in the previous paragraph). But it's not especially interesting.

        Third, an article on the problems with Epic's strategy would be quite interesting because so far we've only really seen articles firmly defending Epic's way as perfectly acceptable and dismissing the concerns people have raised without really addressing them. The article here a while back was basically that, and came across as both ignorant of the issues people raised and condescending of the people who see those as problems. A decent, respectful exposition of the concerns people have would be a great way to counterbalance the heavy editorialising in previous articles and help others understand that it's not just babies throwing their toys out of the pram. Both are sorely needed in my opinion, because every article we've had here on Epic exclusivity has had people making the same straw man responses like 'it's all about convenience' or that they don't understand why anyone would have a problem with having to install a free store app.

          I believe there is merit in this article as the fact that this behaviour is considered predictable is newsworthy and important to discuss, in my opinion. But yes, I definitely agree: a critical analysis of how Epic’s business plans are affecting the industry would be a worthwhile and interesting read, too.

          I’ve yet to find a decent one, but then I haven’t tried very hard as I lose motivation to educate myself very quickly when I see vindictive hyperbole. There appeared to be a good Reddit post that discussed the matter, which a bunch of people were recommending when people asked for a clear explanation, but the OP has been deleted for some reason. There was the one on here titled “Why People Are So Mar About The Epic Games Store”, which covered a few points but I feel like there was too much author opinion colouring the writing. The other one I read was the Gamasutra one, by David Galdino, but that one is nearly a year old now so probably not the most comprehensive. That one didn’t really convince me that it was much of a problem, at least for what I want from a launcher as an end user (but people find different features useful so I’m not about to say that their desired features are pointless).

            I definitely think this article has merit and should exist; I certainly wasn't suggesting it should be replaced. I realise that my earlier comment could be read that way, so my bad on that.

    I personally believe that this outrage never would have happened if Ben had just come out and said "sorry guys, but Epic gave us a bunch of money which will allow us to eat and pay the rent while we develop the game". I'd have nothing but respect for the guy.
    Instead we got "hey PC crybabies, why don't you just download the launcher and direct your whinging at global warming". He knew the EGS was already a touchy subject judging by the start of the blog post and decided to fan the flames. He obviously misjudged how much of a condescending prick he would sound like.

      Heaven forbid that a dev actually respond to the rancid mob of pricks by getting a little angry at death threats, doxxing threats, etc... must be a condescending prick too, eh? Jees, some of the pissants here need to really grow the f..k up...

        The backlash (including the threats, which should go without saying are utterly indefensible) was in response to the dev's condescending post, rather than the other way around.

        And here we have another example of the idiot who hasn't followed the story and has no idea what he's talking about but thinks he can be condescending to people who actually have and do in its natural habitat.

    It's incredible how the gaming community continue to show how they're the entitled violent man children the media wants to portray us as. Granted it's a vocal minority, I still think it's ridiculous that people are so mad over something such as the application they have to use to press play. If this was a situation like a PS exclusive game being stolen by Xbox, sure I can understand, you can't play xbox games without buying that specific console. However when it's as simple as downloading a different FREE application I think the level of outrage is beyond what it should be. Also i'm not saying people don't have the right to be a little mad about the exclusivity but the amount of hate and anger is nonsensical

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