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. icon
    bhull242 (profile), 22 Aug 2019 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dude, Jim Sterling isn’t exactly a nice guy, but he was initially supportive of Epic Games’ store. He does have a problem with them when, rather than competing on features or prices of games or just hoarding their own IP, Epic decided to present a lackluster launcher lacking many important features like user boards, achievements, and even a freaking shopping cart and deciding to board games made by other developers and publishers through exclusivity deals, which is not only anti-consumer but also a stupid idea given how it goes against a major principle held by most PC gamers.

    Also, neither Gamergate nor ethics in games journalism have anything to do with this topic, and you haven’t even given any evidence of a connection between Gamergate and either specific personalities (particularly Jim Sterling) or the topic of this article. I certainly don’t see how Jim Sterling enters into this; he has mostly avoided discussing Gamergate or the specific instance that started it, and the one time he did, it was to criticize how Gamergaters were treating Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn.

    And I think it’s particularly important to note that this pattern of harassment isn’t unique to gamers, nor are all gamers this toxic. It’s more of an Internet thing rather than a gamer thing. This is one of those cases where a “whataboutism” is actually a valid point, as the argument is that gamers in particular are toxic.

    It’s also rich to hold out Polygon and Kotaku as the golden standard of games journalism. It has been pointed out that they have been known to do exactly what you accuse YouTube consumer advocates of doing.

    As for “entitlement”, it’s not entitled to criticize a company for something you don’t like, like exclusivity deals.


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