Another day, another wave of outrage over an Epic Games Store exclusivity deal: but this time it seems the discourse surrounding the topic is significantly worse. Following the announcement of a timed exclusivity deal for Ooblets last week, the studio behind the indie title has received a wave of abuse from those angry with the decision – and the explanations provided in the studio’s blog post.
Despite anticipating some hostility, Glumberland said the two-person team “couldn’t have guessed the scale of what it would feel like to be the target of an internet hate mob”, with the developers receiving “thousands if not tens of thousands” of threats (via GamesIndustry.biz). Developer Ben Wasser, meanwhile, had to quash rumours of fake screenshots which some claimed were ripped from the Ooblets Discord.
Tim Sweeney initially responded to the outcry with a slightly taunting (and probably inflammatory) tweet, but Epic has now released a statement to condemn the harassment of developers and the deliberate spread of misinformation.
“We at Epic Games have often shared our views about the game business and companies in it, and we support the entire game community’s right to speak freely and critically about these topics, including the topic of Epic, our products, and our store,” the blog post states. “When everyone shares their earnest views, the best ideas ultimately prevail.”
“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 concluded the post by stating it would continue to “support [its] partners throughout these challenges” and work with developers to build “a healthier and more competitive multi-store world for the future”.
The online debate surrounding the Epic Games Store has, of course, been going on for several months, with the main complaints being the platform’s lack of features and the PC exclusivity deals being anti-consumer by reducing choice of storefronts. This has been a particular problem with crowdfunded games such as Shenmue 3, which initially promised release on Steam: although Epic recently announced it would start paying for refunds on all Kickstarter-backed exclusives.
On the flipside, the deals can be life-saving for developers in need of funding – as was the case with Ooblets, which explained it “got some cash money upfront from the deal so [it could] make the game we always wanted to with fewer compromises”. Epic offered the studio a minimum guarantee on sales, which the devs said removed “a huge burden of uncertainty”.
Wherever you stand, sending developers threats isn’t the way to make your case. So don’t do that.