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
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The journalists that make up games press (and many of the comments on articles the games press makes about Epic’s store, such as ones on Kotaku and Polygon) have been much more reasonable about everything involving Epic’s store than Jim Sterling and the rest of the gaggle of YouTube “consumer advocates” and the choirs they preach to. The games press at Kotaku and elsewhere don’t have the luxury of being able to skim the top Reddit posts of the day to make a buzzword-laden video that rakes in the views from irritable manchildren who’ve fallen into parasocial relationships. Folks like Grayson and Rivera operate on an ethical journalistic standard and can’t just hurl invectives and fan the flames of outrage; they have to be the adults in the room and the voices of reason where everyone else won’t. Kotaku is the New York Times while Jim Sterling and company are Fox News.

    Speaking of ethics in games journalism, the whole GamerGate shitshow proved that there is a particularly virulent strain of toxicity within gaming culture and gaming communities. It’s a culture that presents cynicism as wisdom, and apathy as a virtue, and the self-righteous mob as the best way to get justice. It goes far beyond what you see in communities surrounding other forms of media. Your whataboutism regarding movies, TV, books and sports ring hollow in the face of the nonstop outrage machine that is gaming culture and the personalities that have, whether they like it or not, helped to shape it.


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