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Ooblets developer inundated with threatening messages following Epic exclusivity announcement

By midian182 · 23 replies
Aug 5, 2019
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  1. Last week, Glumberland revealed that Ooblets would be the latest in a line of PC games skipping Steam in favor of becoming an Epic Games Store timed exclusive. As reported by gamesindustry.biz, the deal includes a "minimum guarantee on sales" that matched Glumberland's original forecast for sales across every store.

    "That takes a huge burden of uncertainty off of us, because now we know that no matter what, the game won't fail and we won't be forced to move back in with our parents," the studio said.

    While the UK developer, which consists of just Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasser, was expecting some backlash from its decision, the extent of the anger took it by surprise.

    "We really misjudged how angry so many people would be," the pair said, in a message to the Ooblets Patreon community.

    "This whole thing has just devastated us. We've been getting thousands if not tens of thousands of hateful, threatening messages across every possible platform nonstop. It's especially hurtful since we've had such a positive, supportive relationship with our audience throughout development."

    This sort of reaction isn’t new. Metro Exodus, Phoenix Point, and Borderlands 3 also faced a backlash over their Epic Games Store exclusivity deals. But company CEO Tim Sweeney says these agreements will ultimately benefit gamers, as they are the “only strategy” of ending the current 70/30 industry-standard model that sees 70 percent of a game’s sales go to the developer/publisher and 30 percent going to a storefront. Judging from the Glumberland response, it appears that many gamers disagree with Sweeney's statement.

    Update: The Epic Games Store team has published the following statement:

    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. 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 is working together with many game developers and other partners to build what we believe will be a healthier and more competitive multi-store world for the future. We remain fully committed, and we will steadfastly support our partners throughout these challenges. Many thanks to all of you that continue to promote and advocate for healthy, truthful discussion about the games business and stand up to all manners of abuse.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  2. kombu

    kombu TS Addict Posts: 96   +189

    Wow, why are gamers so violent?
  3. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,135   +1,218

    Guaranteed sales! Wow. Can't blame developer for taking a great deal.

    Still trying to understand why 'exclusive' is such a big deal for Epic. Does it mean that they do not compete with Steam on net price to the consumer? Would seem this does benefit developer if they can achieve the same level of final full price sales. Of course, Steam could address this by offering a vastly improved user interface and consumer services (see GOG w/ new Galaxy, etc). Having a significantly better product and providing better service will always attract the informed consumer (see Honda and Toyota).

    Interesting times.
  4. oninoshiko

    oninoshiko TS Rookie

    I really have to wonder how many of the messages they got were actually threatening, and how many were just negative. Threatening is not okay, but if you're just being negative well that's just fine. If they really did get tens of thousands of messages, I don't think they actually read them all. Even if it were just 1%, that's hundreds of message that were threatening; those shouldn't exist. The other 99%? Well, you made your bed.

    The reason people are angry at you is you should have known better. You made an anti-consumer decision, and you knew it was anti-consumer when you made it. When know you knew what you where doing, because at the time you announced it, you mocked issues people have with it (as if that was going to make it better).

    Tim Sweeny is the devil, and when you make a deal with the devil you don't get to blame the devil.
    m4a4 likes this.
  5. Rlam77

    Rlam77 TS Rookie

    It seems the writer of the above article Rob Thubron set out to write a one sided PR article with the intention of only defending the developer of Ooblets and the Epic Games Store. He conveniently leaves out the condescending statements made by the developer towards people who criticized the move to EGS and statements calling people "entitled baby gamers." The main reason the devs are getting so much backlash is because of their toxic, unprofessional and snide behaviour.
    Black Paper, Jhonbidon, Puiu and 6 others like this.
  6. Vylix

    Vylix TS Rookie

    I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of it stems from some of the fake screenshots that show Mr. Wasser stating that "gamers would be better off in gas chambers", among other things. Mr. Wasser has proven himself to have the PR sense of a dead fish. In most industries his comments, which flippantly dismiss and mock his intended audience, would result in his company failing or his HR department firing him. In the gaming industry, anti-consumer behavior is encouraged, which has resulted in a lot of anger among the community in general, and since the internet likes to fight fire with gasoline.... Well, you probably get the idea.

    This article downplays the part Mr. Wasser has played this situation, and paints him as nothing more than a victim. What I am finding that Mr. Wasser lashed out at his audience in the announcement that the game would be exclusive to one store. This means he lashed out at his audience before they could even react, then lashed out again with personal attacks when he was criticized for it. The golden rule (or karma) kinda came around and kicked him in the backside here.
    Morris Minor, tacobravo, m4a4 and 3 others like this.
  7. lexster

    lexster TS Guru Posts: 606   +293

    This is downright stupid, both the devs and the people making threats.
    Black Paper likes this.
  8. Hsark

    Hsark TS Rookie

    Epic are trying to overthrow the pseudo-monopoly Steam has over digital distribution. By having very competitive prices, frequent sales, free weekly games (2 sometimes), and an 88% return to the developer, unlike Steam who only pass on 70%.

    Add in exclusivity deals that guarantee return for developers, and it's clear they are trying to become competitive with Steam, if not overtake them. Considering steam has had relatively little in the way of proactive change, and at the moment can't even pretend to compete with Epic's model aside from Summer/Winter sales (No doubt something Epic is going to introduce), they're doing quiet well.

    I imagine a lot of the backlash is people annoyed at change. Or only treating Epic as 'fortnite company' so not wanting anything to do with them, which is a little childish. All you have to do to play timed exclusives is make a free account. It's not like consoles where you have to buy a multiple hundred dollar console just for a few games.

    And I know I'll probably get hate for this but competition is good for the consumer, as is the case in most business. Epic rocking the boat will either leave Steam in the dust, or they will have to make themselves equally as competitive, which means lower prices/more sales/all around better user experience.
    Wessell Urdata and Godel like this.
  9. RedPillBlues

    RedPillBlues TS Rookie

    They deserve every bit of backlash after how venomous they where in there blog posts. Disgusting devs.
    jpuroila and Puiu like this.
  10. Hsark

    Hsark TS Rookie

    Timed exclusives are a step on the path to being pro-consumer. Steam basically has a monopoly on digital sales. How do you overthrow that? Highly competitive alternatives. How do you encourage the use of that? Exclusives, and aggressive sales practices. While it is a bad thing for people who only use Steam, considering it's free to make an Epic account, it's not a permanent exclusivity deal, and it's not like a console where you need to pay 500 bucks for an xbox one just cause you want to play halo, it's a free account that you can have at the same time as steam.
    Godel likes this.
  11. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,485   +1,072

    No. Timed sales (on their dime), or something that is actually competitive would be MUCH better. But forcing the consumer to pay full price at your bare-bones store because you threw money at a game? Not a pro-consumer step.

    Give the consumer a good reason to CHOOSE your store over another. Not force it. People tend to not like being forced to do things lol
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
    Black Paper and Morris Minor like this.
  12. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,485   +1,072

    No one should be making any threats, but I understand why they're getting the negativity (despite the author's convenient omission of what happened). Their explanation was stupid and condescending. Though the part about the safety net I understand.

    That said, because Epic is footing the bill, I don't feel bad in the slightest about not giving money to Epic to buy the game anyways. I will 100% not be supporting timed exclusives.
    Black Paper and Morris Minor like this.
  13. Morris Minor

    Morris Minor TS Addict Posts: 118   +58

    Toxic developers is more like it
    Black Paper likes this.
  14. Jeffrey Inman

    Jeffrey Inman TS Rookie

    Not to mention, Epic games isn't chock full of *****ic, nonsensical reviews that don't aide the consumer in any fathomable way.
  15. Nick D

    Nick D TS Enthusiast Posts: 29   +9

    Either the guy who wrote this specifically tried to make it sound like the developers were innocent or he just took what they said at face value and completely ignored the reason for the massive backlash. In either case, it's not a good sign for a writer.
    m4a4, Puiu and Morris Minor like this.
  16. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,166   +3,768

    I find it hard to believe that a company that has a history of screwing over PC gamers doing just that again will at any point lead to anything pro consumer. You are in denial if you think EPIC won't royally screw over PC gamers if they ever get decent marketshare. Whether the account is free or not is irrelevant to the fact that what they are doing is anti-competitive and does the exact opposite of what a competitor who wants to challenge steam should do: provide a better product.
    Black Paper and Puiu like this.
  17. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,571   +2,050

    Any type of third party exclusivity deal is cancer. You are not looking at getting the game 1 week early on EGS, it's half a year or more. I have both Metro and Borderlands on other stores... care to guess if I will ever buy the sequels on EGS?

    People who are saying that using EGS is free are just stupid. I saved tons of money from buying the best deal I could find when I wanted X or Y game. I have games on Steam, GMG, GOG, Humble, Amazon etc etc. I literally saved hundreds or thousands of dollars over the years. Steam may have the biggest market share, but it isn't a monopoly.

    If EGS would have done exactly or something similar to what CD Projekt Red did with their GOG deal then users would have flocked to the store even if it has less features.

    Goodwill goes a long way into building a new long lasting successful business, especially when dealign with gamers. Instead Epic decided that being anti-consumer and then giving some of the most infuriating and condescending excuses I've ever seen was the way to go. They're at EA levels of incompetence (or they just don't care).

    If you like being treated like you are stupid by Epic and others, then sure, go ahead and support what Epic is doing.

    On the topic of this article, the author needs to do an update with the posts made by the devs otherwise it's just all nonsense.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    Black Paper and m4a4 like this.
  18. Jhonbidon

    Jhonbidon TS Rookie

    Why do they care if they are threatened
    There are better things to care about Like global warming....
    Morris Minor and Black Paper like this.
  19. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,135   +1,218

    While I usually agree with you, I would like to offer a different perspective. This is a 'new' approach to initial marketing of a new game. As I read it, EGS is offering a 'guaranteed' level of sales in exchange for exclusivity. This is a boon to the developer and from his perspective a deal clincher sitting where he is with man-years of effort invested.

    Is it truly anti-competitive? For this specific game, to a degree yes. However, EGS is making huge bets to achieve visibility and, hopefully, viability. Let's be patient and see how it plays out over 3-4 years.

    It will be interesting.
  20. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,166   +3,768

    Given the number of fans responding to this move it seems to me they already had quite a few people willing to buy the game. It would be one thing if EPIC stepped in at the start of development to provide assurances. They didn't though and the game was essentially complete, the risk was already taken at that point without the help of EPIC. To me it seems more like they knew they had a fanbase and wanted a piece of EPIC exclusive pie.

    I'm completely open to EPIC helping smaller developers in exchange for exclusives but not after the game is essentially complete. At that point EPIC isn't shouldering any of the risk for the devs.
  21. ExReey

    ExReey TS Rookie

    That would make sense if the Epic Store was as good as Steam. Which it isn't: it's a barebones store which lack ALOT of basic and advanced features that Steam does have for years, and people actually use those features.
    By bribing Devs into exclusivity for their store, they force gamers to use their sub-par store, while gamers get NOTHING in return. Oh it's free to use their store, well so is every other good store.

    I don't know why it's so hard to understand that this is very anti-consumer behavior, and why people hate Epic so much.
    Morris Minor likes this.
  22. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,135   +1,218

    game complete, but not marketed, as yet to be sold..... I'm inclined to think that is significant risk and I bet dev feels that way too which is why they grabbed the deal.

    "Nothing in return"... offering at MSRP...not at a premium... is not 'pro-consumer', but can't say it is 'anti-consumer'... only matters to those folks who strongly desire to buy at some other vendor.. EGS is trying to build traffic without giving the store away. Might even end up in a BizSchool case study.
  23. jpuroila

    jpuroila TS Enthusiast Posts: 79   +44

    For those of you wondering, this almost certainly has less to do with the epic exclusivity, and more to do with them doing the announcement in a way that reveals them to be complete and utter a******s.
  24. Siana

    Siana TS Rookie

    There is a lot of room in between "threatening" and "OK", messages that are not a threat but are tasteless and abhorrent, and I expect the bulk of messages they received were of this kind. Why are you justifying any abuse just short of threats?

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