Tales From The Platform Wars: Steam Dev Says Calling 'Metro Exodus' Epic Exclusive Unfair Wasn't Intended To Incite

from the riiiiiiight dept

With us now getting on into nearly a year of the new PC gaming platform war between Valve's Steam platform and the Epic Store, you might have forgotten how this all got kicked off. Before Epic pulled a Healthcare.gov with its platform release, and before crowdfunding efforts to fund PC games began taking a hit, and even before this whole thing transformed into mostly a PR war being fought with the PC gaming fanbase, there was Metro Exodus. The game was the first major title to announce an Epic Store exclusive deal for 6 months and that announcement came shortly after the game also became available for pre-order on Steam. This, understandably, pissed off a great many people. Including, it seems, the folks at Steam, who put out a statement on the game's page. The results were as predictable as the sun rising in the East.

On Monday, the latest game in the series, Metro Exodus, became an Epic Games Store exclusive, prompting Valve to call the sudden departure “unfair to Steam customers.” For some Steam users, that’s served as a rallying cry.  This has led to sustained outcry in the form of everything from review bombs of previous series entries Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light to irate comments on every possible social media post associated with the game.

The review-bombing kicked off almost immediately and continued for days. And not just on that game's page, but on game pages for other Metro titles. Then, as other games went Epic exclusive, the review bombing continued, even after Steam put some tepid efforts in place to remove such review-bombs that were not relevant to the game itself.

Again, this was entirely predictable. Valve isn't made up of stupid people and this was widely seen as an effort to weaponize the Steam community to punish game publishers that chose to go with Epic. It's difficult to see it as anything else. That hasn't stopped some folks at Steam from trying to pretend otherwise, however.

Speaking to Kotaku during a Valve event in Seattle last week, Steam business developer and designer Nathaniel Blue said the company did not intend to legitimize the outsized backlash to Metro Exodus’ Epic store exclusivity when it put a comment on that Steam page. The use of the word “unfair,” he said, was meant to reference the timing of the announcement rather than the entire concept of exclusivity.

“I don’t think that was our intent to upset people,” Blue said. “It wasn’t the intent of the message. It was more about the timing. The game was about to launch, and then it was [exclusive to the Epic store]. So that was the only goal of that. What came out of that was not what we expected. It wasn’t meant to be this lightning rod.”

The integrity of this specific developer aside, this is flatly unbelievable. The best that could be said here is that the entirety of the Valve team that had any hand in posting the message to the Metro Exodus was laughably out of touch with the gaming community. Frankly, that's not something I would want to be admitting to if I were Valve. More likely is that Valve knew exactly what it was doing, but perhaps didn't expect the backlash to be quite so severe. So severe, in fact, that it created problems for Steam devs themselves, who suddenly had to figure out how to combat these review-bombs to save face with the gaming industry as a whole.

It is worth noting here that Valve has refrained from commenting similarly on any other Epic exclusives.

“I don’t know that we’d go back in time and change it necessarily, but I can say that in the future we didn’t say anything,” he said. “In the future we didn’t continue to do that because our goal is not to upset the community or light anyone’s hair on fire. Our goal is to get developers close to customers, have a really valuable place for people to play games, and stay focused on that.”

There is plenty of room for disagreement on what Epic's entry into the marketplace, and its specific tactics, means for the gaming industry as a whole. That being said, this claim by Valve doesn't ring true.

Filed Under: epic store, exclusives, metro exodus, platforms, steam, video games
Companies: epic, valve


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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 6:08pm

    Oh please

    Valve didn't need to do jack shit. Despite Valve getting most the market share in the PC gaming arena, they didn't strong-arm anybody to gain it. They didn't threaten GOG or itch.io by saying "if you put your games on their platform you can't put your games on ours." That's what Nintendo did in the 1980's when they had the NES, and that's what Epic is doing with their bullshit monopolistic tactics despite having nowhere near as much market share as Valve.

    You know what Dark Helmet? You're being extremely and obnoxiously hypocritical and inconsistent. If Nintendo did exactly the same thing as Epic did, You'd write "Nintendo Hates You!" but since it's Epic you give them a free passbook and yet you blame Valve for saying "Sorry guys, this game is on the Epic Store!" which they had no fucking control over!!

    At least Nintendo made a more attractive and innovative option for playing games with the Nintendo Switch rather than try to bully people who play games into using their platform with timed exclusives. Granted, Nintendo has these, but the attractiveness of the Nintendo Switch is its hybrid nature which I and many, many others would buy even without Nintendo Exclusives. The Epic Games Store has nothing, NOTHING going for it without their timed exclusives. Exclusivity is all they have, and I thought Techdirt was against that! Why is the Epic Games Store the exception to the rule at Techdirt?

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    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 6:34pm

      For the record

      I don't hate you, Dark Helmet. I just can't fathom why you're treating Epic with kid gloves whilst excoriating Nintendo with a hot poker. Sometimes, Nintendo truly does deserve it (especially in regards to their legal bullying), but Epic has proven that they deserve it far more with their anti-consumer tactics.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 8:21pm

        Re: For the record

        Personally I am going to link to this comment each and every time blue pisses and moans that anyone who disagree with the authors end up with report votes.

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      • icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:01am

        Re: For the record

        "I don't hate you, Dark Helmet. I just can't fathom why you're treating Epic with kid gloves whilst excoriating Nintendo with a hot poker. Sometimes, Nintendo truly does deserve it (especially in regards to their legal bullying), but Epic has proven that they deserve it far more with their anti-consumer tactics."

        First, no worries at all. This is Techdirt, where comments are meant to be posted, read by the authors, and responded to when possible. I'm glad you felt passionate enough about something I wrote to respond in the way you did.

        That said: I suggest you take a breath and re-read the post. This post was not about the validity of what Epic is doing with its store. I'd say I've traveled down a fairly middle road in commenting on the exclusivity project, and you'll notice my posts are teeming with headlines about the "platform wars", which isn't exactly a positive connotation.

        The subject of this post was instead about Valve's comments as to what it was or was not trying to do with its public comments on the game's store page. As any good war correspondent -- :) -- , I'm interested in the machinations of both sides. Given that this is primarily thus far a PR war, commenting on the public statements by one party in that battle that seem fairly unbelievable seems perfectly appropriate.

        Your a Valve fan; got it. There's no problem with that at all. If you're going to allow that to influence whether you believe an unbelievable statement coming out of Valve, well THAT I have a problem with.

        In addition to the entirety of the post, you may want to specifically note the tone in the culminating line:

        "There is plenty of room for disagreement on what Epic's entry into the marketplace, and its specific tactics, means for the gaming industry as a whole. That being said, this claim by Valve doesn't ring true."

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        • icon
          Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:24am

          Re: Re: For the record

          Fair enough, Dark Helmet, just one thing, though.

          Your [sic] a Valve fan; got it. There's no problem with that at all. If you're going to allow that to influence whether you believe an unbelievable statement coming out of Valve, well THAT I have a problem with.

          First of all, I've used Steam a lot less in favor of GOG and itch.io because I fear that the latter two will be hurt much more by Epic's tactics than Valve will. Valve will be fine. GOG has already taken a blow due to increased competition by Epic's hardline tactics, and I do not want to see GOG and itch.io go up in smoke as I value their existence in the PC store market.
          Second of all, whether or not I believe Valve in their statement is irrelevant. Valve didn't even have to make a statement to rile up the Metro: Exodus fanbase; UbiSoft and Epic Games did that themselves by listing an item in their store for months only to have that option snatched away from them like an obnoxious Jack-in-the-box. Even if Valve were silent, I could still imagine the player base getting riled up. Placing the onus on Valve is extremely misplaced.

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          • identicon
            Rocky, 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:50am

            Re: Re: Re: For the record

            Even if Valve were silent, I could still imagine the player base getting riled up. Placing the onus on Valve is extremely misplaced.

            In my opinion, if Valve had kept silent they would have been eviscerated by the gaming community for that. From my perspective I thought Valve's post was quite timid because if I had worked at Valve I would have been extremely pissed off by the behavior of Epic et al.

            When I read Timothy's piece, all I could think of was that it seemed he wanted to place the cause of the outrage on Valve even though it was Epic's actions together with the developer that precipitated it. Perhaps he should have articulated how he thought Valve should have approached the whole thing - but he didn't and his piece almost comes across as a hit piece.

            My opinion on the matter is even more strongly reinforced when he then calls you a 'Valve-fan' because you called him out.

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            • icon
              Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

              My opinion on the matter is even more strongly reinforced when he then calls you a 'Valve-fan' because you called him out.

              Which is funny because I've converted into somebody whose PC Gaming purchases (if not from crowdfunding) are made on GOG and itch.io and only uses Steam if they really have to.

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            • icon
              Dark Helmet (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:42am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

              "My opinion on the matter is even more strongly reinforced when he then calls you a 'Valve-fan' because you called him out."

              Eyeroll. I didn't "call him out" as a Valve fan in a way that carried a negative connotation. I specifically said that was fine. And I'll let you in on a little secret, too: I'm a big Steam/Valve fan myself!

              This whole "even if Valve were silent" and "Whether I believe Valve or not is irrelevant" stance is perfectly appropriate everywhere EXCEPT in response to this article, which was explicitly about whether Valve was believable, which it obviously wasn't....

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              • identicon
                Rocky, 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:27am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                The thing is, you put a label on him which means you weren't really objective in your response - even if you hedged it with "it's fine to be a fan".

                And in my opinion, Valve's response to the exclusivity deal was timid because they had every reason to go in swinging and I find it a bit difficult to apply your reasoning about the response that "the integrity of this specific developer aside, this is flatly unbelievable".

                I have to ask, what do you believe would have been an appropriate response from Valve which wouldn't have "fanned the flames"?

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                • icon
                  Dark Helmet (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 11:20am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                  "I have to ask, what do you believe would have been an appropriate response from Valve which wouldn't have "fanned the flames"?"

                  First, and I suppose I have to say this primarily because everyone seems to think I'm in the tank for Epic for some reason: I did NOT say Valve's statement was "inappropriate." What I said is that it is very obvious to me that Valve knew and likely intended to generate anger with its statement, specifically by stating, even rightly so, that Metro's move was "unfair" to Steam users.

                  That moves beyond the mere statement of fact to one of opinion, lobbed into an already charged situation. If what many of the comments suggest, that this flaming would have happened regardless of whether Steam took the care to decry Metro's move as "unfair" or not...then why bother doing so?

                  Again, Valve CAN do this. I'm not saying it was wrong to do so. But I am most certainly saying that claiming the statement wasn't charged to fan the flames is unbelievable to me.

                  Here's a statement that I would NOT be saying all of this about:

                  "Valve has been made aware that Metro Exodus has entered into an exclusive arrangement with the Epic Store. Pre-ordered copies of Metro Exodus will be refunded in full, as the game will no longer be available at launch as originally planned. We're sorry for any inconvenience this causes our customers, who we greatly appreciate."

                  That is a statement of fact that carries no charged language whatsoever.

                  Again, to be clear, Valve doesn't HAVE to make my suggested statement. They aren't WRONG for making their version. But their suggestion that they had just no idea anyone would react negatively to the game publisher due to their statement, something THEY'VE ACKNOWLEDGED has happened, is not believable.

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                  • icon
                    Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 11:31am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                    "Valve has been made aware that Metro Exodus has entered into an exclusive arrangement with the Epic Store. Pre-ordered copies of Metro Exodus will be refunded in full, as the game will no longer be available at launch as originally planned. We're sorry for any inconvenience this causes our customers, who we greatly appreciate."

                    Could you imagine a world where Valve made that statement instead and Steam users would've reacted exactly the same as they actually did? I could. You don't have to be John freaking Lennon to imagine such a scenario. Why? Because it wasn't how Valve framed it, it was how the game was on the Steam store promised for months and then snatched from right under them by Epic Exclusive deals. Valve could've offered their users free hugs and it still wouldn't have made an iota of difference.

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                    • icon
                      Dark Helmet (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 1:33pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                      "Valve could've offered their users free hugs and it still wouldn't have made an iota of difference."

                      You seem to keep missing that I mostly agree with this, which is why Valve's decision to be more charged in their statement than they needed to be is so clearly an attempt to fuel the fire.

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2019 @ 9:55am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                        I kind of feel like it wasn't more charged than it needs to be.
                        Look at their statement you quoted-

                        The use of the word “unfair,” he said, was meant to reference the timing of the announcement rather than the entire concept of exclusivity.

                        “I don’t think that was our intent to upset people,” Blue said. “It wasn’t the intent of the message. It was more about the timing. The game was about to launch, and then it was [exclusive to the Epic store]. So that was the only goal of that. What came out of that was not what we expected. It wasn’t meant to be this lightning rod.”

                        They could easily have known it was going to be a lightning rod, but not meant for it to be a lightning rod. They meant to call a post a post. What else would they have called it?

                        You're blaming the weatherman for causing rain.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:01pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                    really everyone just finds your assessment of Valve to be a bit.... unfair.

                    triggered Dark Helmet triggered

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                  • identicon
                    Rocky, 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:54pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                    I'm of the firm opinion that even in the best of worlds, your example of how Valve could have phrased themselves wouldn't have stopped a backlash against Epic. Gamers will be gamers and they are a fractious lot.

                    I appreciate that you are taking the time to respond, but I don't think we will agree on Valve's "culpability" in this matter and I'll leave it at that.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:27am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For the record

                For saying a duck is a duck?

                Saying the move is unfair is a rather tepid response to the move. Calling it a "fair" would have been seen as a passive aggressive statement.

                This is up there when Youtube was being attacked by companies for saying "Sorry, your video was taken down!"
                https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120801/23202019914/more-anti-youtube-whining-youtube-complies-w ith-our-takedown-requests-just-to-make-us-look-bad.shtml

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          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:08am

            Re: Re: Re: For the record

            Yay! I got the first word!

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:19am

          Re: Re: For the record

          Your a Valve fan; got it. There's no problem with that at all. If you're going to allow that to influence whether you believe an unbelievable statement coming out of Valve, well THAT I have a problem with.

          Objection, assuming motivation of other party without justification.

          Yeah, that was below you are where you really lost me. When you try to frame someone disagreeing with you as simply because they are biased like that you shoot your own argument in the foot, and ironically enough open yourself up to the very claim you are levying against others. It is entirely possible to not be a 'Valve fan' and still not see what Valve did as 'weaponizing the community'.

          While I've been scratching my head as to why Epic's been getting the silk glove treatment for behavior that has seen other companies raked over the coals I've tried to avoid chalking it up to you just being biased in favor of Epic/against Steam as some others have, but stuff like that? Not helping your case.

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          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:10am

            Not to mention

            As I said in two other comments, calling me a “Valve Fan” is patently silly as I’ve started to buy PC games on GOG and itch.io now and the only way I’m adding new games to Steam is

            1. Redeeming a code for a crowdfunded game,
            2. Redeeming a code for a game given in a giveaway, or
            3. If there’s nowhere else I can buy the game.

            Otherwise, I’m buying my PC games through itch.io and GOG.

            Do I really sound like someone who’s a fan of Valve?

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            • icon
              Dark Helmet (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:47am

              Re: Not to mention

              "As I said in two other comments, calling me a “Valve Fan” is patently silly as I’ve started to buy PC games on GOG and itch.io now and the only way I’m adding new games to Steam is"

              Look, let's just put this to bed, shall we? I read your comment as being fairly pro-Valve and mentioned it ONLY to say that was fine. I'm happy to take your response at face value and say I made that assessment in error. I was wrong when I said that, full stop.

              None of which changes the fact that this article is NOT about whether Valve told the truth in its comment on the product page, is NOT about whether Epic's exclusive deals are fine and dandy or not, and is NOT about whether there would have been outrage without Valve's comment.

              The article is about whether Valve's claim that it didn't intend any backlash to be created or spurred on with its comment was believable. It. Is. NOT.

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              • icon
                Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:56am

                Re: Re: Not to mention

                Okay, I forgive you. It’s just that even if you don’t believe Valve, and even if you think it’s obvious, it’s interesting that other people in the comments section believe Valve when it’s “obviously not believable”. Is it possible that they’re not telling the truth? Most definitely! That’s the nature of PR. It’s just that given the facts and evidence available, it’s also definitely possible that they are.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:34am

          Re: Re: For the record

          If there was any question as to whether or not you gave a fair assessment of the situation in the article above, this response removes all doubt.

          Anyone who thinks Valve's comments are anything but intentionally inflammatory must be a fanboi...? Give me a fu**ing break. In the real world people and situations are far more nuanced than that.

          For some reason you choose to gloss over the fact that Epic and Ubisoft basically asked for this kind of community backlash. Not only did they remove their game, which was a preorder in the Steam store for weeks, but they started selling it elsewhere at a discount! If I had bought it via Steam I'd be upset too! I just don't read Valve's statement as having much effect on the angry mob... they were already pissed.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 1:44am

      Re: Oh please

      Epic has one thing going for it, but its for the developers: 12% (or whatever it is) instead of 30%.

      Doing the "exclusives" thing is a tactic to build a user base. Its a pretty shitty tactic, and I think it may well fail, but that's what they're doing.

      Personally, I sorta hope they succeed in building the ecosystem services which Valve has so that their user base can be happy. For now, the Epic setup is truly terrible. But, if they can fix that, then there will be some more competition in the commercial game distribution market which I think is a good thing.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:41am

        Re: Re: Oh please

        But, if they can fix that, then there will be some more competition in the commercial game distribution market which I think is a good thing.

        About that... right now I'd say the biggest stumbling block to competition is them, as they have demonstrated no interest in allowing competition for the developers who would benefit the most by having more platforms to sell on(smaller indies), and are instead presenting an 'all or nothing, you either sign exclusivity with us or you don't sell on our platform' deal.

        By their treatment of smaller devs it seems pretty clear that Epic does not want to compete with Steam, Epic wants to replace Steam.

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    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 5:37am

      Re: Oh please

      Valve didn't have anybody to strong arm. They already had already cemented their position long before GOG, itch.io and any real competition even existed.

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      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:32am

        Re: Re: Oh please

        Valve didn't have anybody to strong arm. They already had already cemented their position long before GOG, itch.io and any real competition even existed.

        That is true. But riddle me this: Is Valve making the same kind of exclusive deals to prevent other services from getting off the ground? Are or all the Steam games exclusives by nature of Steam's natural monopoly?

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  • identicon
    Agammamon, 10 Sep 2019 @ 7:49pm

    . . . figure out how to combat these review-bombs to save face with the gaming industry as a whole.

    Here's the thing - in the actual game COMMUNITY, and that's gamers not publishers, they don't need to do this. We know what review bombing is, we already take its effects into consideration.

    Its publishers, afraid for their profits if clueless newcomers come in and don't know what the current kerfluffle is and see a low rating that are complaining.

    No offense, but a lot of your reporting on this seems to come from someone not familiar with gaming culture at all and that takes what publishers are saying about each other as the 'community'. You certainly get the facts correct - I'll give you props for that as tons of reporters don't bother - and I don't see you pushing a narrative, just that your conclusions as to why this stuff is happening don't jibe with my own experience talking to others in the community.

    And I do not understand what your point is - is it that Steam should have just shut up and stood by?

    Actual gamers don't care one whit that a Steam dev said 'oh, this is unfair'. Because they already agreed or disagreed separately from Steam. Steam's comments didn't trigger review bombing, Epic buying up exclusivity and the developer/publisher selling it did.

    Ultimately, this isn't a Steam thing. Its an Epic preventing other stores from selling thing. Its all on the Epic side.

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    • icon
      brad (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      Yeah seconding this, Valve didn't weaponize their fan base, they were practically placating them. People were angry that Metro had been marketing and pre-selling through Steam, then pulled it. Valve didn't rally an army, they were using corporate bland-talk to reply to requests for comment like corporations always do.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 8:00pm

    Steam said it was unfair to Steam customers. That was accurate. Fuck Epic and the developers it cons into exclusive deals.

    They're driving people back to piracy. I don't need Steam, Origin, Bethesda, Battle.net, Uplay, and now Epic, among others.

    The game developers could have come together and made a mutually beneficial singular platform but they got selfish. Scapegoating for Epic's anti-consumer move isn't helping.

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    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 11:23am

      Re:

      The game developers could have come together and made a mutually beneficial singular platform but they got selfish.

      Or better yet, sold all their games DRM-free so we wouldn't have to deal with platforms. That's partially why I converted to GOG and itch.io. It's also why I'm really happy to see Toby Fox distribute Deltarune DRM-free over browsers instead of through a launcher platform. If only more people did what he did. Then again, as Toby himself has said, "success is rare" and not many people would agree or know to go to a website like with Toby Fox.

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  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 8:17pm

    Where's the button to flag the article for trolling?

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 9:05pm

    Well past time to take those silk gloves off

    Valve isn't made up of stupid people and this was widely seen as an effort to weaponize the Steam community to punish game publishers that chose to go with Epic.

    Yes, how dare that dastardly Steam make an accurate statement, clearly no-one was upset with Epic making a last-minute exclusivity deal for a game that had been advertised as coming to the platform until just weeks before it actually launched until Steam pointed out that people being forced to use a demonstrably inferior platform if they wanted to play a game was unfair to the buyers.

    It's difficult to see it as anything else.

    Only if you're dedicated to slamming Steam and giving Epic a pass on behavior that is regularly called out on TD. Without that filter in place you've got Steam making a factual statement on a subject that was already a huge sore spot with a good many people, and those people using it as an excuse to rip the dev for making a last minute deal with an inferior platform, taking choice away from would-be buyers.

    If YouTube released a statement that they were looking into possible restrictions of certain viewpoints for whatever reason(anti-harassment, anti-bigotry, whatever) and users decided to go spam the hell out of accounts of people they felt held/promoted those viewpoints, I'd expect criticism of YouTube for potential collateral damage due to realistic filters being imprecise, but I wouldn't expect an article blaming YouTube for that harassment and claiming that they were 'weaponizing' their users to go harass people by releasing such a statement.

    If Google decided to respond to the latest attempt by a politician to blame them for 'not doing enough' on some subject by pointing out that the demands made of them weren't realistic or fair, and people went out and harassed the politician in question you wouldn't blame Google and argue that they employ smart people, they knew that would happen when they made their statement.

    If you wouldn't give any other company a pass on something, then apply those same standards to Epic and don't give them a pass on it.

    If you wouldn't blame any other company for something, then apply those same standards to Steam and don't blame them for it.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:01am

      Re: Well past time to take those silk gloves off

      Valve isn't made up of stupid people and this was widely seen as an effort to weaponize the Steam community to punish game publishers that chose to go with Epic.

      Honestly.
      Remember that Canadian climate change nonprofit that was told talking about global warming could get their nonprofit status revoked because it was taking sides in a political issue? Despite the fact that global warming exists being a matter of patent fact?

      What else was steam supposed to call it?

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:40am

      Re: Well past time to take those silk gloves off

      Yes, how dare that dastardly Steam make an accurate statement, clearly no-one was upset with Epic making a last-minute exclusivity deal for a game that had been advertised as coming to the platform until just weeks before it actually launched until Steam pointed out that people being forced to use a demonstrably inferior platform if they wanted to play a game was unfair to the buyers.

      I...don't think that's what the article is saying at all.

      I don't see Timothy disagreeing with Valve's statement, merely calling bullshit on Valve's claim that they had no idea anyone would read that as an endorsement of review-bombing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:30pm

        Re: Re: Well past time to take those silk gloves off

        That’s not what That One Guy was saying. I read Valve’s statement, and I don’t see how it could be read as an endorsement of review-bombing. Valve often makes BS claims, but I don’t believe this is one of them. Furthermore, I don’t believe Valve’s statement had a significant causal relationship with the review-bombing that ensued, per se. That is, it wasn’t a necessary condition for the review bombing. It would’ve probably happened anyway, and it has happened with other Epic-exclusives, which Valve did not make a statement about.

        Plus, you should remember that people like Charles Carrion exist: people who claim expertise in how the internet and/or PR works and yet fail to foresee the should-be-obvious consequences of their actions from the online community. I lack faith in humanity’s common sense to say that the person(s) responsible for the statement definitely had prior knowledge that it would likely lead to review-bombing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 10:09pm

    The integrity of this specific developer aside, this is flatly unbelievable.

    I believe him. While the team at Valve may have been talking a lot of trash around the water cooler they are smart enough not to actively and intentionally incite their userbase. I believe the comment was mostly innocent with a hint of "what a bunch of assholes". I also believe that it could have been written better to achieve the desired effect rather than the misinterpretation or weaponization by gamers at large.

    Valve may (rightly) have been very annoyed with Epic and Metro Exodus' developers but I don't buy any of this article. Gamers were and still are really pissed off. Pissed off gamers will make a big mess on the internet every time something like this happens. They didn't need any help from Valve and really weren't given any.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cho Seung Hui, 10 Sep 2019 @ 10:14pm

    Remember when...

    Call of Duty titles was an Steam exclusive by years and no one did a shit as you do with Epic? Is exactly the same problem, exclusivity.

    And a loss, because i am partially banned from Steam thanks to esports crap and this means i cannot buy in Steam anymore, because this is a no chance to see classic titles at GoG and similar sites.

    Solution, piracy. Also the only option when i have Wine to touch those games.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 11:28pm

      Re: Remember when...

      "Is exactly the same problem, exclusivity."

      No, there's several major differences in context.

      "I am partially banned from Steam thanks to esports crap"

      Details on this would be nice. What does "partially banned" mean, and why would esports cause you to get barred from buying new games? That makes zero sense without context.

      "Solution, piracy"

      No, that's a great way for them to use exclusivity more, since some publishers think that locking themselves into DRM and keeping away from consumer-friendly outlets is necessary.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:55am

      Re: Remember when... cheaters had the decency to be ashamed

      “i am partially banned from Steam”

      Sup cheater

      Also the only option when i have whine

      Fixed that for ya bro

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:35am

        Re: Re: Remember when... there were a bunch of game stores?

        I remember seeing Warcraft at Frye's Electronics and thinking "I wonder if they're selling it for the same price out at Best Buy." In those days, if I was banned from one store, I could go to the next. And certainly the makers of Abe's Oddysee don't care what I did in Warcraft to get banned.

        But now? What are your alternatives, if you get banned from Steam? Steam is store front and distributor both. Can't blame developers if they choose a distributor and stick with it, can you? But then it's the distributor you've ticked off.

        Replace, if you like, Epic, GoG, etc for Steam. The power still exists, if varying in cover.

        It's not the monopoly over sales of "a" game. It's the monopoly over all those other games as well, all linked through the one distributor.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Remember when... there were a bunch of game stores?

          "In those days, if I was banned from one store, I could go to the next"

          The first question I'd ask is not where else can you buy the product, but why you keep getting banned from stores.

          "Can't blame developers if they choose a distributor and stick with it, can you? "

          If they do it fairly, no. If they choose one because they were bribed, despite knowing that the store they've chosen provides an inferior experience for their customers and removes any choice for the end user, then yes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            bhull242 (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Remember when... there were a bunch of game stor

            Also, if they’ve previously advertised availability on other platforms or drop the news ubruptly.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 2:24am

    Not sure why the press continue to claim Valve made this statement to weaponize the community against Epic, well unless you are trying to push the narrative that Valve is bad Epic is good. (I really do want to know what Valve did to turn the entire press against it?)

    Valve had to make a statement as it was an unprecedented situation - the game had been advertised as coming to Steam for months and was in it's pre-order stage and then two weeks before release Valve were told the game was being pulled from the store in a couple of hours time.

    People rightly expected if you put something onto a store and allow Pre-orders it would be available right up to release and after release (and it's not like it's a physical product where they could run out of stock).

    This is what Valve meant by it being unfair - it wasn't unfair to Valve, but unfair to the customers who were waiting for the game to get closer to release (you know for reviews to see if the game was any good) before purchasing it who now had just had a couple of hours to make the decision.

    They also put up a similar message on Anno when they did the same thing later on (even though Epic 'promised' they wouldn't do this again) though at least Ubisoft left the game up until release.

    It's also hilarious if you think the outrage would have been less if Valve hadn't warned people that Metro would be removed from the store before release, what do you think peoples reactions would be like if the game just disappeared from pre-order with no reason? But no doubt the press would blame Valve for not warning people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 5:45am

    Here we go, Epic shill yet again

    Where to start? First the exclusivity is for 12 months, not 6.

    Are you clairvoyant? Can you read minds? You seem to have the ability to know and 'read between the lines' on what any one says. I hope you can read between the lines on what I'm typing right now. I love how you can interpret what steam PR says to fit your Epic good/Steam bad narrative. Even though this is not what he's saying, it's just your obvious one sided interpretation to fit your narrative. This is not a neutral objective article.

    Epic is not good for PC gaming right now. They've taken PC gaming sales back 10 or more years with their dumb business practices.

    People seem to forget just a few short yeas back when consoles were all the rage the narrative was "Is pc gaming dead?" mostly written by shills like this author seems to be or directly by console makers. It was Steam with their stats page that helped make people realize that PC game is not dead and is a force to be reckoned with. Yet authors like you with the Steam bad/Epic good narrative continue to forget Steam helped keep PC gaming alive and well with their store and ability to buy from said store. Going to a brick and mortar store you were met with console titles with a little tiny section left for PC games if you were lucky.

    Epic with their current business practices is NOT competition for Steam. Competition is when I/ME the consumer can CHOOSE where to buy said game. Not be forced into a situation where one has to use an inferior, questionable personal data mining launcher in order to play a game.

    This will be the last time I read a shill piece from this author on this site. Unless better objective reporting is done. Got to give you one thing, you're getting the clicks, but at what cost. Integrity should still be a thing in reporting. Something the Main Stream Media seems to have forgotten. This is why I started coming to this site. Click baits and shills authors should be left at the door.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Solidus, 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:27am

    OK, this is a good time to remember Techdirt has more than one writer, and more than one perspective- because if this were Mike Masnick, we'd be getting an earful of how we cannot truly know what Steam's employee had in mind when posting this, that they have a right to freedom of speech, that they could not predict they'd be throwing petrol on the backlash, that they're not known for harassing people- that we cannot put the actions of the community on them for not crafting their message to discourage an event that hadn't happened yet.
    That if we choose to allow consequences on this, it could be made this toxic to anyone by the same token, so long as we allow a hundred randos to decide what you can and cannot say by harassing people whose harassment you never called for.

    It's interesting, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:18am

    I agree it was totally predictable. Epic isn't made up of stupid people, they would have known full well that it was a massive intentional slap in the face to their customers on steam. Surprise surprise, people didn't like it. All valve did with their little message was let people know that they were broadsided in case anyone thought they were complicit so they wouldn't be blaming valve for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:27am

      Re:

      Now there's an interesting angle. If Steam is responsible for the backlash for simply telling people about the last minute exclusivity deal, then it would seem Epic is likewise(if not more) responsible for grabbing the game in the final stretch and removing choice like that, when it should have been clear to anyone that people would be upset by such a late switch.

      If backlash against companies signing exclusivity deals late in development like that can be laid at the feet of the platforms in question, then I'd say you're right and Epic has much more responsibility for continually sniping games so late and putting people in the position where it's either Epic or nothing for half a year if not a year, no matter what the developer may have said or promised before that point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:54am

    True Statement by Valve

    What Valve said was 100% accurate about Metro being pulled. Your article is just some type of fairy tale where we are supposed to believe that had Valve not made that statement that every gamer who pre-ordered Metro or not was just going to roll over and be happy with exclusive deals. I personally have never played a Metro game, but I was pissed as fuck about this because I knew it was just the start. My point is that even without the Valve statement, gamers were going to react and show their displeasure.

    Epic is fracturing the gaming market. I have no problem with Epic creating their own storefront, but not at MY expense nor by forcing people to use it. Fuck Epic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:59am

      Re: True Statement by Valve

      Geigner misses the mark as often as he hits it. I wish there was a way to filter him out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:07am

        Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

        Good point. If only there was a way for our site to not auto-force you to read the posts I write, which are clearly marked as being written by me....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:13am

          Re: Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

          I meant a way to filter you out automatically.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

            Google Chrome extension? Firefox plugin?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

            There's numerous options here - exercise enough self control so that you never make it past the byline when you see an author you dislike. Exercise enough creativity so that you can use the many options available to you to filter automatically, writing one yourself if one doesn't exist. Stop visiting a site that annoys you altogether. Or, click through to the story whine for several posts about the author thus increasing his visibility and revenue.

            You chose poorly.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 11:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

              The seven sentences I've posted here, several of which were in response to someone else noticing how bass-ackwards Geigner is on this matter, have no doubt been an immeasurable boon to his visibility and revenue. You're a genius.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 13 Sep 2019 @ 1:18am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

                "The seven sentences I've posted here..., have no doubt been an immeasurable boon to his visibility and revenue"

                Immeasurable? No. More than he would have had if you just skipped past the article when you saw his name? Absolutely. Definitely more effect than your whining has had on the man or his writing.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 2:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

          Come now, we both know that TD employs magic coding that forces people to read and comment on articles that they otherwise would have skipped, and it is only incredible self-control or laziness on behalf of TD staff that have prevented them from conquering the world with said code.

          The alternative, that some people just have really low impulse control and like shifting the blame for it is clearly beyond silly, and not worth consideration alongside the much more plausible 'magic code' explanation.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2019 @ 1:14am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Statement by Valve

            "Come now, we both know that TD employs magic coding that forces people to read and comment on articles that they otherwise would have skipped..."

            No, TD is claiming Valve has that power. In this very article.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:08am

    They told the truth. We live in a world where telling the truth has a tendency to result in teeth-gnashing. That's not an argument for not telling the truth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:17am

    Valve isn't made up of stupid people and this was widely seen as an effort to weaponize the Steam community to punish game publishers that chose to go with Epic. It's difficult to see it as anything else.

    Nonsense. It quite easy to see it as exactly what it was. Valve accurately describing the situation while apologizing to it's customers for the bait and switch that Metro Exodus and Epic pulled. The backlash would have existed just the same without Valve's statement. The only thing their statement did was keep people from wrongfully blaming Valve for something they had no knowledge about ahead of time. The only people who 'widely saw' it as an effort to weaponize the Steam community were a bunch of journalists looking to drag Valve for something.

    It's especially a ridiculous claim when you consider that the Metro devs appear to be in breach of contract for the Steam distribution agreement and Valve has made no noise about that.

    While we're at it I'll point out that [last October] shortly before the Epic store's December launch(https://steamcommunity.com/groups/steamworks#announcements/detail/1697191267930157838) Steam created tiers for it's revenue sharing that give more successful games a larger cut of revenue. That's what decent competition looks, not buying off devs with large cash advances.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:25pm

    I really love how the comment section devolves into a pile of screeching manbabies like we’re on Reddit whenever Epic’s store is the topic. “Someone writes an article that goes against what we believe? What a shill!”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      Well, lookie what we have here! The first troll of the comment thread! Only took 58 comments to reach that point!

      And if you are not a troll but impolite, I can't speak for all the other commenters, but I did indeed say that I didn't hate Timothy Geigner, that I immediately forgave him when he apologized, and "Fair enough" when he made what I thought was a mostly valid argument.
      If you're including me, it's incredible that you think I'm a "manbab[y]"!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re:

        Agreed. I'm more than happy to have the minority opinion here and have the community grab their torches and march on me, but I don't take any bit of that personally and don't in any way want to slow down our comments commenting as they please.

        Abram's and I had our exchange and decided he had a fair point about a couple of things, and so I addressed it w/a mea culpa, because he was right.

        He still is, in my view, missing my actual point, but c'est la vie :)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:40pm

      Re:

      I don’t believe he’s a shill. I do believe he’s incompetent and/or biased on this particular subject. I believe this based on factual inaccuracies in his articles that are never addressed or corrected, faulty logic that seems to only appear when writing about Epic exclusives, and a clear slant that is more evident in these articles than in other articles by Techdirt.

      I’m still waiting for a correction on the developer who received massive backlash last month. Other articles get corrections within days. There’s no excuse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bhull242 (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 12:48pm

    Look, Dark Helmet, I know you can do good work. However, this particular subject of Epic-exclusivity deals seems to be a major blindspot for you. Did you know that you still have a major error in the article about how Epic is losing the PR battle? The dev team you named that got the backlash wasn’t the dev team for the new Oddworld game. At least, not according to the sources you provided. It was a completely different dev team, one who presented the news in a far worse manner than the Oddworld team did.

    Could you at least add a note to that article about the mistake. It’s frankly embarrassing. It doesn’t help that the one article that doesn’t seem particularly slanted on this topic is the only one with such a massive, unacknowledged error.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 2:54pm

    Exclusives

    If your platform has to make use of 'Exclusivity' in order to compete, then it's probably not competing where it counts.

    Note: I hate exclusives... even Mario and Sonic get me all worked up (mostly back in the day).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nic, 11 Sep 2019 @ 3:50pm

    What the hell did I just read?

    Why is this article blaming a Steam developer for saying something entirely accurate? This was unfair to Steam customers. People had pre-ordered the game and then suddenly, it changes that at the last minute. Of course it's unfair to them. It's an awful way to treat your customers.

    And let's not pretend the backslash was lit by Steam, it was going to happen either way, as it has for many others companies who did the same thing, except without the pre-order shenanigans. And that's entirely on Epic for offering bribes to strong-arm competition and the game devs for selling out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sinsi (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 5:58pm

    Tortured Tenses

    "in the future we didn’t say anything,”
    “In the future we didn’t continue to do that"

    In the past this will give me a headache.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:49pm

      Re: Tortured Tenses

      "in the future we didn’t say anything,”
      “In the future we didn’t continue to do that"

      In the past this will give me a headache.

      In the present we will have been having had been fucked. :-P

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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