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
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 10:05pm

    'Anyone who was ACTUALLY a fan wouldn't be upset.'

    The devs were by and large responding to Gamers who were probably never interested in the game which joined their Discord server en masse to stir shit up after catching wind of their exclusivity announcement.

    Joining with the devs in running with that particular conspiracy theory/method to ignore people I see, have fun with that.

    A couple of gems from YongYea's intitial vid on the subject:

    (For context to those unfamiliar with the debacle, perplamps is the husband, Nonplayercat is the wife of the husband/wife dev team)

    Perplamps: 'I think when a lot of the kids here get older and have to get jobs, they're idea of what selling out is will change'


    Nonplayercat: 'I don't understand what people use shopping carts for on video game storefronts'


    In response to a this comment...

    1-UP Chef RIP ETIKA: 'yea but you've gotta realize, you aren't just talking directly to the 4chan/redditors. That's a post to EVERYONE whois/was intersted in the project. I get the pre-frustration, but like, c'mon ma. Killed my enthusiasm for the game to see the blog being so condescenging to all your fans'

    You got this...

    Perplamps: the frothing anger over literally, a free game launcher you don't like, is proof that the tone matched the target of that tone, adn that target is not the audence of Ooblets who is honestly above that stuff


    In response to a question about kickstarter...

    perplamps: 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


    Zync @seemaq: I mean, look at how the devs are responding, They clearly couldn't care less if you buy their game or support them now that they have their epic cash

    Perplamps@Zync: man I wish we didn't take an epic deal so we would HAVE to care what all the entitled toxic gamers think


    LittleTub @perplamps: I think there's a disconnect between how you intended the post to be recieved and how it actually came across

    perplamps @ LittleTub: No, I think the toxic entitled gamers took it as directed at them


    Giorno Garuda @ perplamps: Also, per your blogpost, you stated "I don't expect much of our uniquely-lovely community to fit into this weird anti-Epic contingent." Not trying to strawman here, but does this mean you pretty much think that people who are against the EGS practices should not fit in this community?

    Perplamps @Giorno Garuda: I think you definitely wouldn't like Ooblets in general


    LittleTub @perplamps: I feel like equating communicating business decisions from dev to consumer, and in-game character dialogue, feels really weird lmao

    perplamps@LittleTub: the content of our game reflects us in theh same way us not bending over backward to baby gamers does

    Now then, tell me again how the devs were just joking around and weren't condescending, dismissing jackasses who mocked their fans and dismissed anyone who didn't agree with them as not real members of the community?

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