Ooblets Is Epic Exclusive, Developer Puts Expected Backlash In Perspective

Ooblets is one of those games that just oozes effortless charm. It’s not even out yet, but the gooey, chewy mash up of Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Pokémon has already earned its fair share of salivating admirers. Today, the game’s developers announced that, on PC, Ooblets will be an Epic Games Store exclusive. In an attempt to meet the inevitable backlash head on, they explained their rationale in exhaustive detail.

Developer Glumberland’s exclusivity announcement post is a mixture of frank and tongue-in-cheek. “This is exactly what Marx warned us about!” designer Ben Wasser wrote to kick it off. “Just imagine if other companies got it in their head to offer funding in exchange for exclusives. What’d be next? Game consoles paying for games to be exclusive on their consoles? Netflix paying for exclusive shows? Newspapers paying for exclusive articles? It’d be some sort of late capitalist dystopia.”

Wasser then settled into a more serious discussion, explaining that Epic offered the studio a minimum guarantee on sales “that would match what we’d be wanting to earn if we were just selling Ooblets across all the stores,” which takes the looming existential uncertainty associated with modern game development off the table.

This also means the game’s two-person development team can hire an additional programmer and “ramp up our development resources,” but it might delay Ooblets’ early access launch because “it takes some time to ramp things up and because we won’t have as much financial pressure to prematurely shove something we’re not happy with out the door.”

Wasser then moved on to the elephant — or most elephant-like Ooblet — in the room: the volcano of vitriol that erupts on every studio that signs an exclusivity deal with Epic. He prefaced it by saying that he doesn’t “expect much of our uniquely-lovely community to fit into this weird anti-Epic contingent,” but went on to use that as a launchpad for a discussion of common complaints against the Epic Games Store.

First up, he addressed the store’s well-documented lack of features like social tools, achievements, wishlists, and user reviews, saying that software development takes time, and that Steam, in particular, took 15 years to get where it is today. “I’m sure there’s a team of folks working on launcher features for EGS, but their work depends on the platform being worthwhile from a market-share perspective to keep going,” Wasser wrote.

He also took aim at the commonly-held belief that it’s “anti-consumer” to have exclusives, reiterating what many have pointed out before: Epic’s client is free to download, as opposed to a subscription-based platform like Netflix, Stan, or anything else along those lines. “It’s more like just having to press a button on your remote to change between free TV channels,” he said.

People, he noted, sometimes even go so far as to threaten piracy in reaction to Epic exclusivity shifts. Wasser is not a fan of that approach. “Feeling like you’re owed the product of other people’s work on your terms or else you’ll steal it is the epitome of that word ‘entitlement’ that people use to discuss immature, toxic gamers,” he said.

He closed things out with an attempt at putting it all in perspective, saying that while seeking out reasons to be angry and venting anger is “cathartic and natural,” there are other things in the world that might be “just a tad more worthwhile to be upset about.” He specifically pointed to climate change, human rights abuses, the new Twitter desktop UI, and the last season of Game of Thrones before clarifying — because this is the internet — that the last two things were of course jokes.

“So let’s remember that this is all low-stakes video game stuff we’re dealing with here,” he said. “Nothing to get worked up about.”

Naturally, people commenting on the post have gotten very worked up about it, accusing the Ooblets team of being “condescending,” failing to address the Epic store’s alleged security issues (something Steam has also struggled with over the years) and other admittedly concerning gaffes, and saying they no longer intend to buy the game—not just because it’s on Epic, but because of the tone of the announcement post.

A relative minority of people, however, have piped up to say that they understand where the Ooblets team is coming from.

“Screw folks who get mad here,” one person wrote in response to the announcement. “Get paid, don’t shut down as a studio. You make good games, and the folks that are mad would be madder if you shut down tomorrow. They can handle having to buy from another store.” 


Comments

    Finally, someone who was honest with their community! I still wont buy it (seriously, fuck Epic), but I applaud the devs honesty.

      Agreed, though if it comes to Switch I'll be buying it there. I feel like those who say it's condescending are missing the point, so many studios do the 'we're sorry' post that gets shut down by so many people so it's nice to see someone push back and not take that rubbish at all, let alone lightly.

      Last edited 02/08/19 11:58 am

      Came to say the same thing. Up arrow for you!

      I wonder when they plan to announce it on their still-active Steam store page

    An amazingly condescending post from the devlopers, whether they intended for it to all be tongue in cheek or not.

    “So let’s remember that this is all low-stakes video game stuff we’re dealing with here,” he said. “Nothing to get worked up about.”

    Seriously, this is one of the worst ways to dismiss someone being upset about something. It's akin to telling someone they can't complain about being hungry because there are kids starving in Africa.

    I'd never heard of this game until this article, but even if it does turn out to be a masterpiece they wouldn't get a dime from me.

    Last edited 02/08/19 12:03 pm

    A lot of people are viewing the way they've communicated it as condescending from what I hear, and don't like being essentially called entitled if they would prefer it on Steam.

    Me personally, I just dislike it when games at the 11th hour suddenly go "by the way, Epic store exclusive!".

      Condescending is a nice way of putting it.

      I am respect the attempt to put things into perspective, but this came across as trying to put out a fire by throwing petrol on it then pissing on the people as they run screaming from the building in flames.

      I mean, they're not wrong. If you pirate it because you have to go through the terrible effort of alt tabbing, you're entitled.

    He also took aim at the commonly-held belief that it’s “anti-consumer” to have exclusives, reiterating what many have pointed out before: Epic’s client is free to download, as opposed to a subscription-based platform like Netflix, Stan, or anything else along those lines.I have never been able to figure out what a straw man argument is but I believe this might be one. You don't pay for the Steam client, GOG Galaxy, itch.io, U-Play or Origin either. People also don't pay to enter stores like JB, EB, Big W or Target. Exclusivity is anti-consumer because having a single controlling entity prevents competition, not because of how much it costs to access the store in the first place.

    Wasser then settled into a more serious discussion, explaining that Epic offered the studio a minimum guarantee on sales “that would match what we’d be wanting to earn if we were just selling Ooblets across all the stores,”This is the interesting, and most revealing of motives, part. It's also kind of the weirdest because in most marketing pitches it's the investor/seller that wants to be guaranteed of sales before purchasing licenses not the producer. How does Epic guarantee sales? Are there penalties if you don't meet the sales targets? What is the research behind Epic's guarantee? We haven't seen any data on a game that launches on all stores initially so how does Epic know that going exclusive is actually better?

      I imagine they are guaranteed a certain amount of cash if it reaches the sales target or not, which is probably equal to a set sales figure.

      And as I've proved before, it's impossible to have a sensible discussion about the Epic games now.

      Epic's guaruntee is a loss leader much like $2 milk shoved up the back of the store. I highly doubt Epic has made any money thru EGS yet, but it grows itself as a platform by doing so.

      I'm reading this now because of today's article on the same, and you're right, that argument is a straw man. A straw man is basically when someone makes an argument, but instead of addressing that argument the other person fabricates a similar but different one , despite it not actually being what the other person said, because it's easier to knock down.

      For example:

      A: We need gun control.
      B: No, because if you take away everyone's guns, only criminals will have guns.

      Person A never said anything about 'taking away everyone's guns', their argument was for gun control. Person B constructed a fake argument ('we need to take away everyone's guns') because it's easier to attack that argument than the one the person actually made.

    Epic is still too sliw fixing issues with their game store, namely regional pricing with local currency (and no Australia Tax)

    Until pricing issues are resolvrd... I am happy pkaying my Steam back catalogue. 400 games, I wont be bored waiting.

    Can understand the reasoning, but certainly pushed it a bit far. Probably would of just been better to say "Hey we did it cause it makes more financially secure for our company and it employees". But the need to go into length on why you are wrong for disagreeing with their view does feel like it a desire to take some kind of high moral ground.

    I mean the last bit of the announcement is super on the nose. I mean if I take their logic that I should care about more important things, shouldn't I also not care about their game, or hell spend my money solving the problems they mentioned rather than buying their game on epic.

    Geez, that statement just made me cringe and feels more like stuffing as many argument fallacies in to one place than putting things into perspective.

    What about console, streaming service and news exclusives?!
    Yeah, also prone to backlash and annoyance from consumers, we sure as shit don't look back on the days of the aggressive console exclusive buy up wars with fond memories, what else you got?

    Pirating the game because you can't get it the way you want is entitled!
    Damn right it is but it's also the guaranteed to happen when done this way and is proven to be almost completely negated by accessibility.

    What about climate change and human rights abuses, surely that's more important?!
    Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realise we're only allowed to focus on one bloody problem at a time and I didn't realise your exclusive deal with Epic actually helps or relates to either or those issues.

    Honestly, just saying you got a good deal was all he needed to say, kick back was gonna happen anyway.
    Trying to be funny, edgy and dismissive on top just comes off as condescending and is just gonna attract more flack.

    I can’t tell if the dev is stirring outrage for attention or just a smug asshole.

    Outrage is very profitable these days

    Ooblets Is Epic Exclusive, Developer Puts Expected Backlash In Perspective

    Except the overwhelming negative response to said 'perspective' (which you conveniently ignore). I wouldn't have expected anything less from you, though, Nathan Grayson, as you seem to have an axe to grind with Steam for some reason, even though they've never done anything as anti-consumer and monopolistic as EGS.

    I always find it funny that people like you 'report on events', somehow ignoring the reality of the situation entirely and injecting your own ideology as the only truth. Living in that bubble of yours, where your perspective is only ever the correct one ... it must be grand. I hate to remove the cloud you are perpetually trying to float along on, but a lot of people seem to have changed their minds entirely about purchasing this game now.

    I say it's about time people woke up to this, especially when the devs take such a condescending attitude (and to call it anything but is showing your bias) towards the concerns of a lot of people that have already been supporting them for a long time (especially those who gave to their Patreon for nothing in return). It seems to be a trend with these smaller studios, that when they obtain financial stability from EGS monopoly money, that egos begins to inflate and their true colours start to bleed through.

    People don't forget, so good luck with actual real world sales outside of the EGS payout, and good luck with people having your back with the next game you make, if ever. I saw one fantastic response to this whole situation which was simply: maybe you should have taken some of that EGS money and hired someone competent to do your PR. Says it all.

    Speaking of this Dev.

    They have had a couple of hot takes since this has blown up. Here is a couple:

    "Honestly I'm tempted to say that now we have funding secured, gamers would be better off in gas chambers, buts that's probably insensitive"

    https://twitter.com/burning55963534/status/1157700361282576389/photo/1

    "honestly the biggest reason we didn't do a Kickstarter is we didn't want to deal with entitled baby gamers holding even more power over us"

    https://twitter.com/Grummz/status/1157686558213824512/photo/1

    "I think you guys want me to rip into gamers more??"
    "I think when a lot of the kids here get older and have to get jobs, Their idea of what selling out is will change"

    https://twitter.com/Grummz/status/1157686558213824512/photo/2

    This is a dev Tim Sweeny endorsed btw with his message.

    https://twitter.com/TimSweeneyEpic/status/1157561177708404738

      This just goes to show how much of a douche (and how out of touch) Sweeney is as well.

      Just as much as he wants to build up EGS, he very specifically wants to tear down Steam as well (and remove that as an option for people). It's painfully more obvious as time goes on.

      ho ho ho shit.

      Uh... why on EARTH has the first quote not gained more visibility/OUTRAGE?

      I mean, for fuck's sake, hand-wringing for days over what CDPR are trying to say about trans issues by including a poster in the game that might or might not be targeting trans people for advertising, but casual holocaust 'jokes' re: gamers and... nothing?

      Fuck me, the double-standards...

      That first (at least) quote is fake.
      The real conversation has been screenshotted and posted by another user on that page.

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