I'm sure everyone is as bored of hearing the smug phrase "fake news" as I am, but unfortunately it's still a real problem (and not just when it's incorrectly weaponised to dismiss actual news reports) and now it's permeated the world of Video Games, which is that place we are.
In particular, the "Epic Store is evil" nonsense that seems to be perpetuated, as the developers of Ooblets (a fun little patreon-funded indie game) recently found out when they signed an Epic Store exclusivity deal. As reported by Venture, the two-man team received thousands of hateful letters and emails (far outweighing the amount of people who actually bothered to support them on Patreon) merely because they signed up for the Epic developer program. The reason for that?
Literally no one cares about "another launcher". It's the spyware, selling data to the Chinese government, leaking users credit card info, unethical bribes, etc that makes people despise Epic.— Roaster Toaster (@FromBeyondTheG3) August 5, 2019
A bunch of lies, misinformation, conspiracy theories and malice? Cool.
As we're all no doubt familiar, attempts to derail a conversation or muddy the waters with specious allegations are the base tactic of internet assholes everywhere, often for little reason other than they enjoy causing trouble. Perhaps it's just because I've been moderating this site for 8 years but does it seem to anyone else that we, as a society, have grown increasingly worse at dealing with this shit? What happened to "Don't feed the troll"? That was a meme 10 years ago and it's like we collectively forgot and now everyone is a conspiracy theorist.
Anyway for this reason a completely harmless indie dev is suffering the wrath of a bunch of entitled internet crybabies over unsubstantiated rumours contrived by (presumably) morons because of some faux-loyalty to a
developer company who only feigns interest in them as long as they keep mindlessly vomiting money into their lap. Makes you proud to be part of an internet community of video game enthusiasts, doesn't it?
EDIT: the devs have since released a statement fully detailing both the decisions that led to this clusterfuck, and the consequences that they've had to endure as a result. Regardless of what you may think about the way they handled business, the treatment to which they've been subjected is pretty fucking unjustifiable. Some quotes:
I did expect a small percentage of that outside group to read our announcement, and I very naively thought what we were saying might get them to see the whole EGS debate as lightheartedly as we did. By engaging directly with that crowd, I mistakenly thought I could have some impact on their opinions and emotions and defuse the situation with some lighthearted criticism of the main things that drove them to attack people. You can see how well that went. It was a stupid miscalculation on my part.
Our decision and announcement were immediately picked up by extremely polarized people on certain subreddits who began to flood our Discord and expand out across the internet. This further generated confusion and misunderstanding around our tone.
As new users streamed into our Discord — hurling insults, accusations, and demanding satisfaction over a game they’d never heard of — our community, with me leading the tone, wasn’t very welcoming to their behavior.
I very foolishly engaged with these people, sometimes just answering them, sometimes making jokes, and often saying things in exasperation. It was obviously a mistake to engage in that way. I unintentionally threw a lot of fuel on the fire because my messages were screenshotted without any of that context (and sometimes specifically rearranged to change the context or outrightly fabricated) and shared back amongst where the hate mobs were mobilizing.
I think there's some pretty succinct commentary on entitlement in there as well, so I'm going to quote that here too:
We’ve been told nonstop throughout this about how we must treat “consumers” or “potential customers” a certain way. I understand the relationship people think they might be owed when they exchange money for goods or services, but the people using the terms consumers and potential customers here are doing so specifically because we’ve never actually sold them anything and don’t owe them anything at all. And if they choose to not buy the game when it’s released, that’s totally fine with us.
Whenever I’ve mentioned that we, as random people happening to be making a game, don’t owe these other random people anything, they become absolutely enraged. Some of the most apparently incendiary screenshots of things I’ve said are all along these lines.
What’s amazing to me is that the other screenshots and parts of our post that have been enraging people are the ones where I called out how entitled these people are.
“Entitled” isn’t a meaningless insult I was throwing around. It’s a description of people who feel owed something from us just because they are potential customers or that they really wanted the game. They can’t seem to comprehend that there is no difference between someone making a game and anyone else. Strangers don’t owe you anything, regardless of whether they’ve spent $200 to register an LLC or not.
We absolutely appreciate the support of fans and especially all our Patreon supporters, who we’ve been in communication with throughout all of this. I’ve never made any statements that were unappreciative of them at all, and mischaracterizations of my messages are not very convincing. We have a relationship with patrons that has expectations laid out up front. We definitely owe them in relation to all they’ve done for us and what we’ve promised them, and we try really hard to honor all of that. Our announcement went to them first with a message about what it would mean for patrons (namely that we were no longer financially dependent on their support and wanted them to be aware so they could feel free to cancel or lower their pledges) and asking what they thought we should do with the Patreon in general, given all that.
At the same time, our detractors were using the fact that we had a Patreon as a core argument for how we were supposedly double-crossing people. We’ve been getting nonstop questions about whether patrons will still get Steam keys or not, despite none of our Patreon tiers offering the game at all. Maybe these folks don’t know what Patreon is and think it’s the same thing as Kickstarter, or maybe they’re just trying to cover their undue entitlement in the trappings of concern on behalf of patrons.
It’s hard to see the effects or scope of what a massive mob of online harassment is doing to someone until you’re on the receiving end of it. It’s also really hard to realize when you’re unwittingly part of a harassment group because you’ve been so convinced by the mob mentality that your anger and target are justified.
And if you think it’s proportional to be a part of all this just to police some random person’s tone while ignoring everyone else’s, you’re still a part of it.