Cracks Showing In Epic Store's PR War As Developers Have To Plead With Public To Not Harass Them

from the the-developer's-front dept

We've been discussing the new PC gaming platform wars that kicked off with Epic releasing their own Epic Store to rival Valve's Steam and attempting to power it with game exclusives built on a more generous split with publishers. There has obviously been a lot to talk about in this new rivalry, from Steam's response, to Epic's flubbing of its store's main purpose, to the effect Epic's exclusivity deals are hampering the use of crowdfunding to get more games made. But one of the most interesting aspects of this whole ordeal is how clearly Epic's leadership has attempted to frame this all as a PR war above all else. Essentially, Epic is combating the public's natural distaste for exclusivity deals by pointing the finger back at Steam, stating that none of this would be an issue and the exclusive deals could go away tomorrow if Steam mirrored Epic's revenue splits. The argument is that what Epic is really after is a better gaming industry that makes more and better games, something that should benefit the very fans now complaining about the company's tactics.

So, how's that PR battle plan working? Not terribly well, judging by some of the peripherals. For instance, when part of the announcement for a game publisher releasing exclusively on Epic includes the company begging gamers not to hurl vitriol at it in response, that's an indication the gaming public hasn't been swayed.

One of the easiest bits of news to miss on Monday’s Gamescom Opening Night Live show was tucked away in an ad for the Epic Games Store. A simple sizzle reel that showcased a number of games exclusive to the controversial digital PC game storefront included an upcoming indie that previously wasn’t in Epic’s roster: Oddworld Soulstorm. Shortly after, Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning posted a message via the Oddworld Twitter account.

If that all reads to you as a thinly veiled attempt to plead with the public not to harass the Oddworld folks over the exclusivity deal, that's because that's exactly what it is. And, as you may have guessed, it didn't work. In fact, not only did the anger at the exclusive Epic Store release come through anyway, Glumberland, the company behind the game, was taken to task for attempting to head off the storm with the above message.

It proved to be a futile effort, as post from Ben Wasser—one of Glumberland’s two members—detailed the deluge of harassment he received for choosing to sell his game in the way that he wished. Among the usual complaints was a new one: Wasser was rude for calling the mob of harassers toxic and entitled, and that the glibness of his initial post was disrespectful.

A couple of things are worth noting here. First, most of the harassment thrown at gamemakers over their business practices is way, way out of hand. It's the kind of toxic overreaction and entitlement that gives gamers everywhere a bad name. Second, there is no real indication as to whether this is a vocal minority or majority, only that it is indeed vocal.

Still, we're at a place in all of this where publishers are proactively sending out these messages to reason with that vocal group and to attempt to head off the shitstorm of backlash over exclusive deals with the Epic Store. Whatever that is, it is most certainly not an indication that Epic is winning the PR war it chose to start.

Filed Under: distribution channels, epic game store, platforms, silos, soulstorm, stores, video games
Companies: epic, oddworld


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  1. identicon
    bob, 22 Aug 2019 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re:

    It's true the buyers took a risk and it turns out that risk didn't pay off. However the devs/project owner originally said they would do one thing, received money under the assumption it will happen, then changed what was delivered. At least they offered a refund.

    And while the action of not delivering what was promised is a risk, the devs still look crappy for reneging on their original promise.

    They don't deserve death threats or harassment but it is absolutely fine to call them out on bad behaviors. For example changing the deliverable after funding was already secured.

    They made a move that looks good for the short-term. However now they have shown that they are not to be trusted in the future when they promise features in a kickstarter project. So they sacrificed long-term potential gains and fans for a short-term funding source with a company that is also not to be trusted. Maybe it was the right move maybe it wasn't.

    As a consumer not able to see their finances I'm going to lean towards it being a bad move. Also I will not purchase their game. If they release something in the future I will wait for the game to be published before I even think of spending money on their company. Because of how they acted here.

    Case in point, I haven't knowingly purchased an EA game for 20 years because of how bad that company acts. I only say knowingly because it's possible that EA is somehow a parent company over the smaller studio and I didnt find that fact out until after i purchased the game.

    So while the game moving to epic isn't illegal, it is still something that I don't want to see become a trend among all developing and publishing companies. Because it is definitely anti-consumer and will stunt the growth of other companies because gamers distrust them based on the actions of this studio and no doubt others in the future.


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