Hey, Epic, If you're Going To Boldly Give Away A Historically Popular Game For Free, Make Sure You Can Handle The Demand

from the free-as-in-advice dept

The Epic Store is still around, still rocking its exclusivity deals with game publishers, and is still trying really hard to unseat Valve's Steam as the dominant PC gaming platform of choice. Truthfully, the news about the ongoing battle between Steam and Epic has sort of quieted down. That ultimately is probably not a good sign for Epic. If there is unseating to be done, it's going to have to be done loudly, publicly, and with much coverage in the press.

Which is perhaps why Epic recently decided to strike a deal with Rockstar to give away Grand Theft Auto 5 for free. Yes, free as in you pay no money and yet own the game forever. Rockstar's reasoning behind this is quite easy to understand: the company already made a hilarious sum of money selling the game for nearly a decade and the game's ecosystem and players have since moved into the online MMO realm where the game now makes hilarious sums of money via microtransactions. More players means more revenue for Rockstar.

And for the Epic Store, this is sort of free game is a great way to entice gamers to your store, gin up a chunk of new user adoption, and really show the public how great your PC games store performs--, oh son of a bitch.

The Epic Games Store went offline on Thursday morning as users anticipating the launch of Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto 5 for free on the platform overloaded its servers. News of the game’s free release leaked early on Wednesday on the Epic Games Store Twitter account.

The website and launcher both went down just before 11 a.m. EDT, when the Premium Edition of the game for Windows PC was scheduled to go live. “We are currently experiencing high traffic on the Epic Games Store,” Epic Games said on Twitter.

On the one hand: yay, the strategy worked and tons of people flocked to the Epic Store to get the free game. On the other hand: crap, the strategy also backfired, because now a whole bunch of people's first impression of the store is that it's unstable and cannot support the public demand. Whoops.

This seems to be something of a trend for Epic. Great on the marketing and PR messaging, much less great on the execution. And quite frankly, it's not as though Epic shouldn't have known it was going to have a stampede on its hands.

Despite being six and a half years old, GTA 5 is clearly still popular. It goes beyond just the game being available for free, too: 2019 was one of Rockstar Games’ best sales years for GTA 5. GTA 5 was initially released in September 2013 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and again in 2014 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In 2015, it came to Windows PC. With the PC launch, the game found a new audience with the modding scene and in Grand Theft Auto Online. The game’s popularity on Twitch ballooned in the past year with role-playing servers in GTA Online.

Now, as of the time of this writing, 2pm CST, the problems seem to have been fixed. I know this because I went and got the game for free myself, even though I already own it on my console. And, while this was my first time on the Epic Store myself, you'll have to go elsewhere for my take on how good or bad the store itself is.

But as for this marketing strategy by Epic? I give it a meh.

Filed Under: epic store, gta 5, overwhelmed, video game stores, video games
Companies: epic, rockstar


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 8:13pm

    Look, everybody knows you can't give away popular video games at scale, okay?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 8:27pm

    Yes, free as in you pay no money and yet own the game forever.

    Own: the temporary use of something until its creator or distributor decides you don't 'own' it anymore.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2020 @ 9:36am

      Re:

      Used the word in the definition, here let me fix that....

      Own: the temporary use of something until its creator or distributor decides you cannot use it anymore.

      Synonyms:

      Purchase: the act of paying compensation for a temporary legal contract granting access to a product and / or service.

      Also searched for:

      Rights: A fiction created by plebs for the purposes of destabilizing the great corporate ruling powers.

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 15 May 2020 @ 8:29pm

    Hmm, they can't win for losing. One thing I love about Techdirt is the promotion of shared culture. Now that there is an overwhelming response, let's kick them while they're down? Come on Timothy, they did the right thing and it bit them in the ass. Don't make it worse. Next time they may not give away anything, with an attitude like that.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 8:34pm

      Re:

      I'm sure Epic will stop attempting the do the "right thing" (marketing) because of a mean internet man criticized one of their attempts.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 8:47pm

      Re:

      Oh wow, he totally made it worse. Nearly brought down Epic, he did.

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    • identicon
      Agammamon, 15 May 2020 @ 10:49pm

      Re:

      Giving away a game that is now dependent upon in-game purchases is not 'doing the right thing'. It is 'this is a brilliant strategy to increase monetization'.

      GTAV has just gone 'free to play'.

      Everyone who really wanted GTAV already bought it (or pirated it) - this is just to get more schlubs to install the Epic store and to get more schlubs to buy Shark Cards for Rockstar.

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re:

        "Everyone who really wanted GTAV already bought it (or pirated it)"

        I haven't. I played a bit when it was on game pass, but it's not gone cheap enough for me while I have so many other things to play.

        "this is just to get more schlubs to install the Epic store and to get more schlubs to buy Shark Cards for Rockstar"

        It also allows many others to have a shot at the campaign without having to do any such thing. If after being available for so long some are still playing it but if Rockstar can still make money from a few new online gamers, I can't really fault them. If it's optional, then who cares what the few who do that want to do.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 1:16am

        Re: Re:

        "...this is just to get more schlubs to install the Epic store..."

        It smells a bit like EA's origin - a blatant attempt to install bona fide malware while calling it a "convenient online store".

        I'm honestly a bit torn about the concept of "freely available" software which requires you to install DRM on the side as a required prerequisite.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 1:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I'm honestly a bit torn about the concept of "freely available" software which requires you to install DRM on the side as a required prerequisite."

          It's "free" as in gratis, not "free" as in libre. The software isn't free, Epic are just choosing to charge $0 in return for installing their software.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 6:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            *"It's "free" as in all your PC's are belong to us. The software isn't free, Epic are just choosing to charge $0 in return for installing their malware.

            Amendments mine. Fits better now, I think.

            It'd be interesting to see just how many consumers choose to go without a game they'd actually want just because the one place to get it from is Origin or the Epic store. I know those two have been on MY blacklist since they launched.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 9:33pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Amendments mine. Fits better now, I think."

              It doesn't matter how childishly you choose to reword facts, it doesn't change them. The cost of entry is the launcher, and the game hasn't changed one bit if that's how someone chose to install it. The online transaction model is the same whether they chose this method or paid $60 5 years ago.

              "I know those two have been on MY blacklist since they launched."

              Congratulations on your stand, but I hope you understand you're in a minority group.

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              • identicon
                Rekrul, 18 May 2020 @ 11:48pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "I know those two have been on MY blacklist since they launched."

                Congratulations on your stand, but I hope you understand you're in a minority group.

                I'm in that minority group as well. I have never paid for or installed any game that requires an online account or online activation and I never intend to. I'll buy a game from a DRM-free source like GoG, but if a game comes with a digital leash attached, the publisher can shove it as far as I'm concerned.

                I recently watched a video where the author was lamenting the fact that a game he liked had been delisted from all the online stores. Rather than see this as a huge red flag, his take-away was that people should be more active in contacting companies and keeping all-digital, locked-down content like this available. He completely missed the irony that he was advocating more support for the same system that was screwing him over in the first place. Or that people's enthusiastic support of such systems will only lead to the same thing happening to even more games.

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                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 19 May 2020 @ 1:39am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  For the record, I also gave up on PC gaming almost entirely years ago, due in part to DRM. But, I'm also in the minority. Most people either don't know about DRM, don't care as long as they personally don't have problems as a result of it, or are happy to put up with it so long as they get cheap/free deals in return.

                  "He completely missed the irony that he was advocating more support for the same system that was screwing him over in the first place."

                  That has nothing to do with DRM, though. Your issue here is digital distribution, and there's nothing that can really be done to change it if the reason was that the publisher no longer had the rights, if there was a legal takedown or similar (I'd assume the latter if it was removed from everywhere at once, but unless I know the title I can't really confirm). The situation would still be the same if you bought DRM-free from GoG or similar. If licencing or legal issues are the reason why things get taken down, you can't resolve that with anything other than a return to buying physical discs. Even then, problems can still happen when update services are no longer available, since the version on the disc will likely be buggy and require an update to be playable (which is yet another issue entirely).

                  However, in my experience, if a title is delisted from a store it's still available to re-download if you're bought it, you just can't make a new purchase (although I'll admit my experience is mainly with the XBox store). Unless it really is a legal takedown you're not out of your purchase, and I'd presume that if it is most places would let you have a refund.

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                  • identicon
                    Rekrul, 19 May 2020 @ 1:40pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    For the record, I also gave up on PC gaming almost entirely years ago, due in part to DRM. But, I'm also in the minority. Most people either don't know about DRM, don't care as long as they personally don't have problems as a result of it, or are happy to put up with it so long as they get cheap/free deals in return.

                    I don't have a problem with on-disc protection as long as it doesn't cause any problems with the rest of your system, as Starforce was reported to do. If all it does is prevent you from making a copy of the disc, I'm fine with that.

                    That has nothing to do with DRM, though. Your issue here is digital distribution, and there's nothing that can really be done to change it if the reason was that the publisher no longer had the rights, if there was a legal takedown or similar (I'd assume the latter if it was removed from everywhere at once, but unless I know the title I can't really confirm).

                    The title was Driver: San Francisco. Apparently it is available in physical form as well. I gather that its unavailability is due more to disinterest than any legal issues. However, the physical copies probably also need to be activated online to be playable.

                    Even then, problems can still happen when update services are no longer available, since the version on the disc will likely be buggy and require an update to be playable (which is yet another issue entirely).

                    That's another thing that bothers me. It used to be that you could just download the patches from various sources and apply them. I assume that computer games now work like console games and you can only patch them through the company's digital distribution platform?

                    At one point in time, you could count on pirates to turn out DRM free copies of almost everything, but in more recent times, it seems that only the big triple-A titles get cracked and uploaded. I looked just to see if there were any copies of Burnout Paradise Remastered floating around and couldn't find any, even though it's two years old. For the record, my system can't even run it, so even if I found a copy, I wouldn't be able to use it.

                    I'd buy the original version for the PS3, but they never released a physical copy with all the DLC. I looked for a pirated copy of that (even though I have no idea how I'd use it), and couldn't find one. I saw a copy for the Xbox 360, but I don't have that system. I'd consider buying it for the PS3 and downloading the DLC, but then you can't really back it up (I've read that backups only work on the same console, if it dies, the backup is worthless) and I don't even know if you can still get the DLC. I don't even know if there's a monthly charge for the Playstation Network. I've never hooked any console up to the net.

                    I never even owned a Playstation back in the day, I went Atari 2600 > C64 > Amiga > Win98 > WinXP. I've picked up some PS1, PS2, Gamecube and Xbox consoles along the way as well as a PS3, but haven't really used them. I've used emulators to run some of the games under Windows (often at reduced speeds), but that's about it. The most recent games I've played are probably at least 10-15 years old.

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                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 19 May 2020 @ 11:09pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "The title was Driver: San Francisco. Apparently it is available in physical form as well. I gather that its unavailability is due more to disinterest than any legal issues."

                      Actually, no it definitely is legal issues, at least based on an assumption from my experience.

                      You see, a quick look at the Wikipedia entry confirms that Driver: San Francisco has both licenced music and licenced real cars in the game. These licences are usually only valid for a certain length of time. With a physical product, the validity of the licence is only an issue at time of manufacture. However, with digital sales the licence has to be valid for all content in the game at the point of sale.

                      So, if I'm right in assuming that the game was removed because a 5 year licence (which the timing seems to suggest), then what happened makes sense. The stores would not legally be able to sell the game unless Ubisoft pays to licence all the content again, but a physical copy would not be affected as the licencing was valid at the time of manufacture, which is the only time that needs to be confirmed.

                      This happens regularly. For example, I have digital copies of Forza Horizon 1 & 2. They have been delisted from the store, but I can still download the games any time I want as my purchase remains valid. However, I cannot buy the DLC for either game, nor can a new player buy a new non-pysical copy. This is because the games contain a large number of licences for cars and music that have expired.

                      That's annoying, but it's down to the way digital content is licenced, not anything to do with DRM.

                      "Burnout Paradise"

                      For the record, the game without the DLC is a lot of fun. Plus, most of the DLC unavailability is due to the above - its licenced content and when they presumably renegotiated for the remaster they didn't bother to pay for last gen consoles.

                      Also, I will say that if your experience with consoles stops at the pre-PS3 era then you're not really grasping the modern industry. In previous eras, when the game went to manufacture, that was it, and the game was complete on the disc. Today, it's not unusual for a buggy unplayable product to be on the disc that's intended to be fixed with a huge day one patch, and even if the game is playable it will be a lesser experience if you don't connect online for the patches that were developed since the disc was made.

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                      • identicon
                        Rekrul, 20 May 2020 @ 2:01pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Actually, no it definitely is legal issues, at least based on an assumption from my experience.

                        OK.

                        So, if I'm right in assuming that the game was removed because a 5 year licence (which the timing seems to suggest), then what happened makes sense. The stores would not legally be able to sell the game unless Ubisoft pays to licence all the content again, but a physical copy would not be affected as the licencing was valid at the time of manufacture, which is the only time that needs to be confirmed.

                        Why are games treated differently than movies? At least that's how it seems to me. A movie comes out, eventually it makes its way to the pay channels like HBO and assuming that there were no unforeseen issues, the music is usually intact. From that point on, barring anything unusual happening, that movie will have the same music forever. When they were trying to negotiate the rights to the music for the movie Heavy Metal so they could release it on home video, the copies playing on cable were unaffected. I had a copy I recorded off one of the pay channels and it had all the music, even while a VHS or DVD copy was unavailable. Every time it played on cable, all the music was intact.

                        Also, once a DVD/BR of a movie has been released, I can't remember ever hearing of a re-release a few years later with different music. Do the studios keep renegotiating the licenses every 5 years for everything they've ever released on disc, or is a license for music in a movie good forever?

                        For the record, the game without the DLC is a lot of fun. Plus, most of the DLC unavailability is due to the above - its licenced content and when they presumably renegotiated for the remaster they didn't bother to pay for last gen consoles.

                        Actually, the DLC I was most interested in was Big Surf Island, which I didn't think had any licensed content.

                        Also, I will say that if your experience with consoles stops at the pre-PS3 era then you're not really grasping the modern industry. In previous eras, when the game went to manufacture, that was it, and the game was complete on the disc. Today, it's not unusual for a buggy unplayable product to be on the disc that's intended to be fixed with a huge day one patch, and even if the game is playable it will be a lesser experience if you don't connect online for the patches that were developed since the disc was made.

                        I'm aware of that. Which is why I was hoping that there was a "game of the year edition" for Burnout Paradise that included a fully patched version with all the DLC, or at least BSI.

                        I hate the fact that you need to connect to a company's service to get the patches for a game. There is absolutely no reason that console owners couldn't be allowed to download patches to a USB drive and install them that way. Which would allow them to archive the patches for the future. I'm not saying that this should be the standard way a game is patched, as I know that 99% of today's users wouldn't have any idea how to do that, but it would be nice if it was an option.

                        Or if you could make a console-independent backup of the patches. While I dislike the fact that backups of DLC are tied to the console that they were created on, I understand that it's done as a form of DRM, but what's the rationale for not allowing people to make DRM-free backups of patches? It's not like you can use them for anything if you don't have the game?

                        The fact that so many games are shipped in a broken state and need to be patched by going online, or that are only available online is going to turn the libraries of games for current and future systems into Swiss cheese, with large numbers of games being lost to history, or only available in broken, unplayable states. I find that very depressing.

                        Even if existing "owners" of those games are still allowed to re-download them, how long will that last? Will a PS3 owner still be able to connect to the Plastation Network and download their digital games when Sony is hyping the PS6? Will it even be allowed to connect?

                        I look at modern games and think "That looks incredible." then I realize that most of these games probably won't be playable in a decade due to licensing issues, the activation servers going offline, the company dropping support for the games or not being able to get required patches and it kills any desire I had to play the games. In my view, if I pay for a game, I should be able to play it until the day I die (hardware permitting) without needing anyone else's permission to do so.

                        I keep my fingers crossed that some of the games I want to play will eventually make their way to GoG, or that pirates will eventually crack them and make complete copies available that way.

                        Hey, Electronic Arts, I want a complete physical copy of Burnout Paradise for the PS3. Name your price.

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                        • icon
                          PaulT (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 1:12am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          "A movie comes out, eventually it makes its way to the pay channels like HBO and assuming that there were no unforeseen issues, the music is usually intact."

                          Usually, but not always. There's plenty of examples of movies (but more usually TV shows) that have not been released on DVD for years due to rights issues or had to have their soundtrack changed.

                          https://www.npr.org/2012/01/03/144624329/the-big-bad-swap-the-problem-with-replaced-music

                          As to why this happens, it's going to be down to the way the rights are negotiated. I can't speak to specifics, but my guess is going to be that rightsholders don't take games as seriously so demand different terms, while the publishers don't care enough about sales after 5 years to demand longer terms, since by then they're usually pushing a sequel or next gen title.

                          "Actually, the DLC I was most interested in was Big Surf Island, which I didn't think had any licensed content."

                          As I say, I'm only going from personal experience here and there could be different reasons for that specific one. It just seemed clear to me that the 5 year availability and long list of licenced content means it's almost certainly the reason behind the Driver removal.

                          "Which is why I was hoping that there was a "game of the year edition" for Burnout Paradise that included a fully patched version with all the DLC, or at least BSI."

                          GOTY titles can still have updates and patches, especially when there's an online component. maybe not as big or often, but they still happen.

                          "I hate the fact that you need to connect to a company's service to get the patches for a game. There is absolutely no reason that console owners couldn't be allowed to download patches to a USB drive and install them that way."

                          On a technical level, no. But, consoles are now so tied into online gaming that it's unlikely to be used that often. Plus there's always the piracy excuse to not allow it.

                          I hear you about it being a good thing to have older titles available in a playable form, but the industry as it stands now doesn't care about your issues. Especially a company like EA, whose business model is selling you a new reskinned version of the game you bought last year with added microtransaction.

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                          • identicon
                            Rekrul, 22 May 2020 @ 8:52am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Usually, but not always. There's plenty of examples of movies (but more usually TV shows) that have not been released on DVD for years due to rights issues or had to have their soundtrack changed.

                            I knew about that, WKRP in Cincinnati being one of the most famous examples of changed music. However, it seems, at least from my experience, that once a license is negotiated for TV and movies for a specific use, the license is permanent.

                            For example, Heavy Metal was playing on cable with all its original music, at least a decade or more after its original release, even as the studio was trying to clear the licenses for a home video release. I never heard anything about the studio needing to renegotiate the rights to allow cable channels to keep playing it. According to Wikipedia, VHS and Laserdisc copies were released in 1996 and even today it's still available on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming, with all the original music. As I recall, it was a multi-year effort to get all the music licensed for home video, but I haven't heard anything about the studio having to renegotiate the licenses to keep the movie available. Maybe the license period is just much longer, but it seems like once a studio licenses the music, it stays licensed. At least that's how it seems.

                            GOTY titles can still have updates and patches, especially when there's an online component. maybe not as big or often, but they still happen.

                            True, but at least the base game should be playable without any major problems.

                            On a technical level, no. But, consoles are now so tied into online gaming that it's unlikely to be used that often. Plus there's always the piracy excuse to not allow it.

                            I don't understand the piracy argument for patches though. Patches only fix the game, they don't help you pirate it. If you have a pirated copy, you have it regardless of whether it's patched or not. And if you don't have a pirated copy, having a patch isn't going to help you pirate it. Patches for computer games have been freely available for years and they were never linked to piracy.

                            I hear you about it being a good thing to have older titles available in a playable form, but the industry as it stands now doesn't care about your issues. Especially a company like EA, whose business model is selling you a new reskinned version of the game you bought last year with added microtransaction.

                            I hate what gaming today has become. Not only the way that consoles (and computers) are so closely tied to online services, but a lot of the choices in the game design itself.

                            To play a game, you used to have read the manual and know the control. Gamers today regard reading anything longer than the game's title as torture and can't be bothered to memorize the controls. And why should they? The game literally tells them what to do every step of the way. Every time you come to a door, the game prints PRESS [X] TO OPEN DOOR on the screen. If there's a switch you need to throw, there will be a glowing circle on the floor to show you where you need to go and the switch will be lit up in a neon color so you can't miss it, then when you stand in the circle, the game will tell you PRESS [O] TO EXTEND BRIDGE. If an enemy grabs you, a flashing icon will show you what button to pump to break free.

                            Remember the classic arcade games like Kung Fu Master and Vigilante? If the bad guys grabbed you, you had to waggle the joystick to break free. If those games were designed today, a little image of a joystick going back and forth would pop up on the screen to tell you what to do. Gamers today are treated like trained monkeys who are too stupid to know how to play the game if it doesn't tell them what to do. A decade from now, FPS games will probably have big red SHOOT HERE signs over the enemies' heads.

                            I've noticed that this doesn't apply to racing games though. I've never seen PRESS [X] TO BRAKE when approaching a curve, nor a picture or a stick/wheel showing you that you have to turn. I wonder why that is?

                            Going back to the original topic, I find it ironic and sad that 20 years from now, it will be easier to play Atari 2600 games, some of which are already 40+ years old, than it will be to play games that are coming out now.

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                            • icon
                              PaulT (profile), 22 May 2020 @ 11:48pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              "However, it seems, at least from my experience, that once a license is negotiated for TV and movies for a specific use, the license is permanent."

                              You think wrong. It's normal for rights to be tied to a specific format or release type, meaning they need to be renegotiated for any use that wasn't included in the original deal. Forward-thinking companies might negotiate longer deals upfront, but that usually makes them much more expensive upfront.

                              "I never heard anything"

                              ...which does not mean that it didn't happen.

                              "According to Wikipedia, VHS and Laserdisc copies were released in 1996 and even today it's still available on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming"

                              Yes, popular titles that fans will buy multiple times over the years are more likely to get everything relicenced than lesser known titles and justify the expense of licencing. Some movies never got a release since the VHS, or even before that.

                              "I haven't heard"

                              Why do you think that your limited personal knowledge means something didn't happen behind the scenes? Isn't it more likely that the knowledge of needing further licences made the process easier to do a second time, or that they managed to negotiate a licence that made later renegotiation unnecessary? These things don't get reported on unless they go wrong, which is the reason you know about the first round of licencing issues. If there hadn't been a delay, would you be in here claiming that they didn't need to get a licence for the video release because you hadn't read about it?

                              "True, but at least the base game should be playable without any major problems"

                              Should, not will.

                              "I don't understand the piracy argument for patches though"

                              As part of the update process, the patch will connect to the central servers of the software provider and check to see if the console has been modified or banned from the network. You need to modify to pirate, so the patch won't work on hacked consoles (in theory as least). An offline version of the patch would allow a pirate to update without going through this process. Sure, you can probably get hacked patches as well, but the game companies don't want to help making the process easier.

                              "Remember the classic arcade games like Kung Fu Master and Vigilante?"

                              Yes, I remember how simplistic they were compared to modern games. I also remember the giant letters under each button that said what they did.

                              "I wonder why that is?"

                              You closed your eyes during the tutorial section?

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                              • identicon
                                Rekrul, 25 May 2020 @ 3:22pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                You think wrong. It's normal for rights to be tied to a specific format or release type, meaning they need to be renegotiated for any use that wasn't included in the original deal.

                                I never said they didn't. I said that once a movie/TV license is negotiated for a specific purpose, it never seems to go away.

                                Why do you think that your limited personal knowledge means something didn't happen behind the scenes?

                                Can you point to even one example where a movie was released on DVD or Blu-Ray, with all music fully licensed and no issues whatsoever. Then after a period of time, they had to withdraw the movie specifically because some of the licenses expired?

                                Note that cases where the music was changed for the initial home video release or where someone filed a lawsuit claiming that the music was never properly licensed in the first place are excluded. The withdrawal and/or music change must be specifically because of an expired license.

                                ...or that they managed to negotiate a licence that made later renegotiation unnecessary?

                                Um, isn't that essentially what I said in the first place? That once they negotiate a license for a specific use, it stays licensed.

                                There are millions of songs used in movies and TV shows which are available on DVDs/BRs. If studios had to renegotiate the licenses for millions of songs every few years, doesn't it seem likely that some of those negotiations would fail and the DVD/BR would have to be withdrawn and have the music changed? Some people would demand too much money, others simply might not want to license the music for whatever reason. Yet, we don't see multiple releases of movies on home video, each with different music. Or movies that were previously available become unavailable just because the licenses expired.

                                Yes, I remember how simplistic they were compared to modern games. I also remember the giant letters under each button that said what they did.

                                There's a difference between labeling a button with the function it performs and sticking an image/message right in your line of view explicitly telling you what to do.

                                People get annoyed when they're playing a game and others keep giving them unsolicited advice, but games do this constantly in the form of text and image prompts and everyone just shrugs.

                                Why can't that stuff be optional? Classic games like Doom and Half-Life never put button prompts on the screen. Did anyone ever complain "It's too hard to remember the controls! I wish the game would tell me what to press every time I need to interact with something."?

                                If people could play those games with no buttons prompts at all, why do games today need them? Have gamers gotten dumber? Are they now too dumb to remember how to play a game without constant onscreen help? Do they really need the entire game to act like one long tutorial?

                                You closed your eyes during the tutorial section?

                                I'm not talking about tutorial sections. I'm talking about the game putting prompts on the screen for the entire game. Every modern game does this. You can be at the last door of the game and it will tell you PRESS [O] TO OPEN DOOR. You've opened fifty doors to get to this point and the game still thinks you're too stupid to remember what button to press.

                                Racing games don't do this. They may do it during the tutorial, but once you get into the game, it never tells you when to brake, or shows you an image indicating that you need to turn. The game may have optional driving aids such as marking the optimal course through a turn or automatic braking, but these are optional and can be turned off (unlike the button prompts in other games), but it never explicitly tells you what to press or when to turn by popping up messages/images on the screen.

                                Yes, some arcade games might indicate when you need to turn or a more modern game like Test Drive Unlimited might have a GPS system to tell you where to go on an open-world map, but you're not going to be driving along in Gran Turismo or Forza and have an image of a steering wheel pop up in the middle of the screen and mime turning to the left or right every time you come to a turn. And if it did, wouldn't you find that insulting?

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

                                • icon
                                  PaulT (profile), 25 May 2020 @ 11:31pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  "I never said they didn't. I said that once a movie/TV license is negotiated for a specific purpose, it never seems to go away."

                                  Only on physical media, which has different licencing to digital. Exactly what I've been saying to you. Also, note again your use of the word "seems". It never seems to go away because you're not privy to the negotiation process for new releases. You will never know unless there is a problem a la Heavy Metal, and there usually isn't - either the licence will be renegotiated quietly, or it will just not be released again for the moment.

                                  "Can you point to even one example where a movie was released on DVD or Blu-Ray, with all music fully licensed and no issues whatsoever. Then after a period of time, they had to withdraw the movie specifically because some of the licenses expired?"

                                  Sigh... are you deliberately not listening or are you allergic to factual information?

                                  No, this doesn't happen with physical releases because the licence is applied at the time of reproduction - which is at the point of manufacture with physical releases, not at the point of sale, which it is for digital. The licence cannot be retroactively withdrawn.

                                  However, I can point to plenty of titles that were released on VHS or DVD but never on Blu Ray or digital, and a lot of the time that's because licences were not renegotiated for the new releases.

                                  "Um, isn't that essentially what I said in the first place? That once they negotiate a license for a specific use, it stays licensed."

                                  Yes, and you were utterly wrong when you said it. Most licencing will be for a limited time. Again, just because nobody's showing you the meeting minutes for when these things are done, that doesn't mean they don't happen.

                                  "There's a difference between labeling a button with the function it performs and sticking an image/message right in your line of view explicitly telling you what to do."

                                  Yes, and gives that the former is not possible with a game controller they do the latter. They also only normally do it during the tutorial level and/or allow you to turn it off in options, which makes me wonder if you've ever played past the first level of a modern game.

                                  "Classic games like Doom and Half-Life never put button prompts on the screen"

                                  Because the games were generally far less complicated than they are today. You can't even look up or down in those games, let alone know which button to perform different weapon modes and kill types as in the most recent versions of those franchises, and most non-action games have all sorts of extra complexity on top of that sort of thing.

                                  "You've opened fifty doors to get to this point and the game still thinks you're too stupid to remember what button to press."

                                  Or too stupid to turn the tutorial mode off in the game options?

                                  "you're not going to be driving along in Gran Turismo or Forza and have an image of a steering wheel pop up in the middle of the screen and mime turning to the left or right every time you come to a turn. "

                                  No, but Forza Horizon shows you the racing line and relative danger of the turn. Plus, it's rather dishonest to compare racing simulations that are intended to be as realistic as possible to games that are intended to be mindless fun. It's like complaining that the original Doom doesn't have the same witty dialogue and puzzles as Monkey Island... well duh, of course not.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      If 'you screwed up by not planning ahead for an obvious surge in traffic' is enough to cause them to take their ball and go home then the company is run by immature children in suits, and is doomed to crash and burn with or without that criticism.

      They're big boys and girls, they can handle people telling them they botched something.

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

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 15 May 2020 @ 8:48pm

    News of the game’s free release leaked early on Wednesday on the Epic Games Store Twitter account.

    Company using an official channel to say what it'll be doing used to be called "announcement".

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

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 15 May 2020 @ 10:46pm

    . . . selling the game for nearly a decade

    You know what's funny? Reading a 2020 post in a game forum bitching about a game's 'poor optimization' where the poster is touting 'I can run GTAV at max settings' as proof he has a powerful system.

    Sure dude, you have a powerful system - in 2013.

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

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 15 May 2020 @ 10:50pm

    News of the game’s free release leaked early on Wednesday on the Epic Games Store Twitter account.

    What sort of company are you running that your OFFICIAL Twitter account can 'leak' anything. Wouldn't that just be 'an announcement'?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 10:52pm

    imho the most likely reason they are giving GTA 5 away for free is that GTA 6 is finished and they are preparing to release it in a few months, so they are stirring up the market in preparation for it.

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

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 15 May 2020 @ 10:53pm

    I know this because I went and got the game for free myself, even though I already own it on my console.

    See, if Rockstar wanted to be a 'good guy' they would have been platform agnostic right from the get-go.

    This is the sort of bullshit that is sinking Nvidia's excellent streaming service - publishers keep wanting to double and triple dip by limiting what hardware you run their product on.

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

    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 5:48pm

      Re:

      In 2013 the PS4 and Xbox One didn't exist yet. Once those consoles came out, they released there. The wait for PC was bs although they said that they were basing the PC code on the PS4 and XB1 code (and the fact that the assets for the PC version support 4K@60Hz seem to support that assertion).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2020 @ 2:03am

    sooner or later, epic will overwhelm all stores.. epic has a game engine.. especially the recently announced unreal engine 5.. epic has it's own developed games...

    epic has it's own store.. so what if it was not able to support all the users on the first day..

    it's a massive, "i can give this awesome class A premium game for free to everybody... can you? "

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

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 16 May 2020 @ 4:37am

      Re:

      epic has it's own developed games

      Yeah, unlike Valve.

      Waitaminute...

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

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 16 May 2020 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      Valve has a game engine. Valve has its own developed games. Valve has its own store - that was able to support all the users on the first day.

      it's a massive, "i can give this awesome class A premium game for free to everybody... can you? "

      Its a massive 'I can give away this 6 year old freemium game where I'm going to rake in more money from microtransactions. Let's not forget that Rockstar sells in-game money for real money. They opened an actual, real casino in the game.

      This isn't 'good guy Epic'. This isn't Epic saying 'we've got tons of money so we're going to do something nice'. This is a carefully calculated marketing ploy.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 12:14pm

        Re: Re:

        Erm, forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't Epic technically a competitor to Take Two, who owns Rockstar? The idea that it's all about selling the online freemium content isn't wrong, and they certainly cut some kind of a deal, but Epic might not be directly getting those purchases.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2020 @ 2:44am

        Re: Re:

        Bingo! I trust Epic about as much as I trust the US Government to actually act in the interest of regular citizens that is to say I don't.

        It's not helped by the fact Tencent owns about 40% of the company and has people from the Chinese government on it's board.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 1:22am

      Re:

      "it's a massive, "i can give this awesome class A premium game for free to everybody... can you? ""

      A bit as if Ford could produce Model T's at no cost and were giving them away for free.

      Turning a five year old game into a freemium offer isn't a massive anything, except possibly a massive attempt to squeeze a few further microtransactions into a game which is to the PC industry what Melville's "Moby Dick" is to literature. And old, old classic.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 2:04am

        Re: Re:

        "Turning a five year old game into a freemium offer isn't a massive anything"

        Good thing they're not doing that, then. Nothing about the game itself has changed. You still get the full single player campaign for nothing. If you then wish to access the online component, all the parameters are the same as they were for anyone getting the game before this offer.

        I understand dislike of the microtransaction model for the online part of the game, but there's no need to make stuff up.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 6:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I understand dislike of the microtransaction model for the online part of the game..."

          Actually, well handled microtransactions aren't a bad way to deal with a game as long as you stay away from the P2W angle which only encourages whaling.

          My reaction was primarily to the way the OP chose to view Epic "giving" away a 5 year old game (at no cop incurred, mind) in order to squeeze some extra market value out of a game which today is last century's hit.

          Sorry. The gushy pro-epic fanboy rant got to me, what can I say...

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 9:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "My reaction was primarily to the way the OP chose to view Epic "giving" away a 5 year old game"

            Yes, I understand that you find this particular fact uncomfortable, but it's still a fact no matter how you try to reframe it. Epic are giving the game away for free, that's a fact no matter how you feel about the value of the overall package.

            "a game which today is last century's hit."

            Why are simple facts so difficult for you that you have to consistently lie about them? 5 years ago is not last century, no matter how long you think you've been in lockdown for. Constantly overstating things does not make your argument any better, in fact it undermines any real points you're trying to make.

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

  • icon
    DocGerbil100 (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 2:25am

    There's free and then there's free.

    Epic insists on two-factor authentication, which is fine from a security standpoint, but, given that I've no intention of using the store for anything else, it'll be a cold day in hell before I give them my 'phone number.

    Even if they don't use it for marketing purposes, it's inevitable that the more companies have that information, the more likely it is to leak out in a breach. Unlike my email address, I'm currently blessed with a spam-free 'phone experience. I'm not putting that at risk for an ageing £25 videogame, from a company I'd much prefer to avoid.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2020 @ 6:15am

      Re: There's free and then there's free.

      I have 2fa with epic and I used the same email address that I had on file.

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

    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 5:50pm

      Re: There's free and then there's free.

      You don't have to give a phone number for Epic's 2FA. You can use an email address or, like me, a 2FA app like Authy or Bitwarden (or Google Authenticator).

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

      • identicon
        DocGerbil100, 20 May 2020 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re: There's free and then there's free.

        [NB: I can't be arsed to find my login details, ATM]

        I just assumed 2F meant telephone. I didn't actually check. Thank you for the information, AC and RH. :)

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

  • icon
    MunkiLord (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 7:57am

    Not a big deal.

    This is a pretty common occurrence in the video game industry, I don't think many people are going to care very much. Steam used to have this problem during every single major sale for years, and it was significantly worse. It's also not uncommon for games to have bad server issues when they launch. It's obviously not ideal, but this isn't an Epic problem, this is an industry problem. So I don't think most people will hold this against them. And I'd bet a significant percentage of people that do will do it simply because they aren't a fan of the Epic Games Store.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2020 @ 7:12pm

      Re: Not a big deal.

      Neither the game itself nor the store is new, and the connection problem was with the store. Meaning your statement about at-launch server issues is irrelevant at best.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 May 2020 @ 9:58pm

      Re: Not a big deal.

      "It's also not uncommon for games to have bad server issues when they launch"

      True. GTA5 launched in 2013 and the Epic Store launched in 2018. What's the launch issue here?

      "So I don't think most people will hold this against them."

      ...because they didn't pay for anything, and the Epic store was already so well known as a horrendously bad product that's only running due to exclusives and free giveaways, that there's no good reputation to tarnish.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2020 @ 8:18am

    Coronavirus EU Predicted Pandemic, With Globalists As Saviours

    Bizarre EU Funded Comic Book Predicted Pandemic, With Globalists As Saviours

    Ms Chan Wenling and her friend-from-the-future are engaged in an exciting adventure to convince people to act together and save the world. While the story may be fictional, it is nevertheless intertwined with some factual information.

    https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/4cc2ea93-d003-417e-9294-1103a6 ee877d

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

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 16 May 2020 @ 8:58am

    Server capacity

    Company finagles to distribute a popular game for free
    Marketing announces release date
    IT does nothing new
    Date arrives
    Servers crash

    To quote Illidan Stormrage

    You are not prepared

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2020 @ 7:53pm

    Nobody cares.

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

  • icon
    Zos (profile), 17 May 2020 @ 3:15pm

    Launch day sucks for everyone.

    I was going to give this a profound Meh, but i just fired up the eipc launcher for the first time in 6 months to find they 're STILL down. 5/17 soo.....oops?

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

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 9:06am

    No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

    The first I heard if this story was not that GTA5 was available, but the story that it crashed the servers. By then the problems were probably already fixed, and so Epic just got some free publicity.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2020 @ 12:24pm

    The pointless hate thrown at the Epic Store just because it's not Steam was funny for a moment, but it's long since turned into a stale old joke.

    Their servers were momentarily overloaded by a popular download. It happens.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 9:39pm

      Re:

      "The pointless hate thrown at the Epic Store just because it's not Steam"

      If you think that's the reason people dislike Epic, you haven't actually been listening to the complaints.

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

  • identicon
    Ninja, 19 May 2020 @ 11:25am

    I decided to give some stores other than steam a try epic being one of them because of those free deals and... Steam is light years ahead in many areas including reliability and usability. Which reminds us of why people ditched (for some time at least) piracy for streaming: it's a service issue.

    Personally I'll stick to Steam for my major acquisitions. And I really only tried them because it was either incredibly cheap (all 3 Mass Effect for $6, really?) or free.

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


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