Ooblets subjected to scores of hate mail for signing exclusivity deal with Epic Store

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#1 Edited by Sweep (10609 posts) -

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?

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.

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#2 Posted by Humanity (18965 posts) -

Another thing to note is that these devs tried to head this wave of hate off by making an announcement ahead of time. The phrasing of said announcement has now also come under heavy “internet” level scrutiny. Personally I thought it was trying a little hard in a way that you fumble in joking around a difficult conversation, but that’s about it. The internet at large has now decreed it as incredibly demeaning and condescending. People like to jokingly throw around the phrase “the Internet was a mistake” but seeing just how toxic society has gotten over the years and how the internet has given these individuals the tools to actually hurt others it does make you think if it’s not too much of a “good” thing. Make no mistake the internet is a wonderful tool that has helped connect us all in marvelous ways - but the cost of this is increasingly escalating.

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#3 Posted by cikame (2920 posts) -

You missed the part where the developers took peoples money for the promise of a Steam version, put out a sarcastic news post, invited people to send them messages about it, responded with insults, then opened a discord where they continued to insult people.

Sweep you also need to make peace with the fact that there are plenty of people out there with negative opinions of the Epic launcher, you even made a thread asking people why and got plenty of responses with a multitude of reasons. Whether you think those people are right to be angry with Epic is beside the point, those opinions are real regardless don't ignore them.

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#4 Edited by Sweep (10609 posts) -
@cikame said:

You missed the part where the developers took peoples money for the promise of a Steam version, put out a sarcastic news post, invited people to send them messages about it, responded with insults, then opened a discord where they continued to insult people.

Sweep you also need to make peace with the fact that there are plenty of people out there with negative opinions of the Epic launcher, you even made a thread asking people why and got plenty of responses with a multitude of reasons. Whether you think those people are right to be angry with Epic is beside the point, those opinions are real regardless don't ignore them.

Hey man, I think you're right in that they could have handled that better (it's weird how a 2-person indie team doesn't have a PR guy, huh?) but don't try to make this personal - you're right I asked why people were upset and there were plenty of reasonable replies, but none that justified an internet temper-tantrum, the sending of thousands of hateful messages to a developer. Incidentally a lot of the "reasons" people had to be angry with Epic were the exact unsubstantiated propaganda I mention in my post above, which you seem to have completely sidestepped by trying to reframe this as a personal vendetta.

I never said people didn't have the right to be upset, but nothing about this reaction is proportional and anyone who says otherwise is normalizing this shitty behavior and feeding into the misinformation that's been circulating. Are you really sitting there right now arguing that this is reasonable and measured response? An anonymous internet hate-mob? For real?

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#5 Posted by gkhan (1103 posts) -
@cikame said:

You missed the part where the developers took peoples money for the promise of a Steam version, put out a sarcastic news post, invited people to send them messages about it, responded with insults, then opened a discord where they continued to insult people.

Sweep you also need to make peace with the fact that there are plenty of people out there with negative opinions of the Epic launcher, you even made a thread asking people why and got plenty of responses with a multitude of reasons. Whether you think those people are right to be angry with Epic is beside the point, those opinions are real regardless don't ignore them.

In what insane world does ANYTHING you mention justify any of the torrent of massive hateful abuse those developers got? Did you read the Medium piece? Did you see the screenshots? This is over which LAUNCHER that ships the game.

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#6 Posted by SethMode (2062 posts) -

Yeah, nothing they did warranted this kind of reaction. This aspect of the gaming community needs help.

https://medium.com/@perplamps/regarding-whats-been-happening-3af0f27d863c

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#7 Posted by Sweep (10609 posts) -

@sethmode: I was just on my way back in here to post this same article! Absolutely horrific that any of this is considered fair or appropriate.

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#8 Posted by conmulligan (1950 posts) -

@cikame said:

You missed the part where the developers took peoples money for the promise of a Steam version

When did they do this?

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#9 Posted by SethMode (2062 posts) -

@sweep: I don't want to paint with too broad of a brush (even though I am totally going to), but it seems very likely to me that free speech/free market harassers in the community and people that accost game devs for decisions like this....is one of those perfect circle Venn diagrams.

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#10 Edited by mellotronrules (2625 posts) -

no business decision justifies the abuse that devs receive, ever. people really need to grow the fuck up and realize that devs don't have to sell their work on the consumer's terms (though the profit motive might argue otherwise). if a video game company makes a decision that motivates you to personally go after the people in that company- you're off the deep end.

that said- i think a lot of the hand-wringing that goes on in the aftermath of devs (large and small) getting in bed with EPIC comes from the brutal realization that the consumer cannot and will not care if the EPIC store is a better financial choice for a dev. people gravitate towards a friction-less experience- and right now- steam is what many people are comfortable with, irrespective of what the EPIC user experience really is.

i don't have a reason to use the EPIC store, so i don't. i don't begrudge any dev making whatever choices they want in terms of how they want to sell their game. but i do think there are opinion pieces out there that are somewhat intentionally stoking the flames and forcing a 'EPIC is the only correct choice' narrative that gets people's blood up.

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#11 Posted by cikame (2920 posts) -

@sweep:I don't concone any kind of hate mail, but they stoked the fire by being coy with the tone deaf statement, then offered to answer questions from people who don't want to use the Epic launcher, and told them they were a bunch of self entitled losers.
"The Epic store doesn't support my currency"
"I guess you'll just have to wait!!"
... thanks that's... great.
They took a touchy subject and pretended people's problems weren't justified, and it's not just that they're ignoring people's concerns, they're also provoking them, were they not expecting a response? (again i don't condone the response they did get, but it certainly wasn't going to be a positive one).
I don't bring up your prior topic on the subject as an attack on you or your position, you clearly state that you're referring to the extreme people who are so angry with the Epic store, but there are also plenty of people, like me, who have a variety of reasons to simply not want to use it, who are waiting for a large number of games to leave exclusivity because Epic want to compete, not by offering a better service, but because they have lots of Fortnite money to throw around, the amounts of which are hidden behind non disclosure agreements. There's a vocally angry mob, but they aren't the only ones who dislike Epic.
@conmulligan:There's a Steam discussion from some months ago where someone was concerned about the trend of indie games going Epic exclusive, to which the developer replied the game would be releasing on Steam, but despite looking at it yesterday i'm afraid i can no longer find it, i recognise a forum post is not an official statement, but from a development team of two people, that's a reply from at least 50% of the studio.
The game has also had a Steam page since November 2017, apparently Valve invited them to join which they were very excited about, and they've posted all their updates there, 4 pages worth, ever since, if i was a member of that community i'd be a little miffed.
The Patreon page very wisely states simply "PC", but it's been in development long before the Epic Store so, whether you think people would assume Steam for the last two years is up to you i guess, but that's up to two years of donations before finding out.

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#12 Posted by Humanity (18965 posts) -

@cikame: I don’t think any amount of rationalizing will justify the degree of abuse these people received. Continuing to argue that “I don’t condone the hate messages they received..but they were asking for it” is just a bad look any way you put it. What was he thinking when he tried to defend their decision to go with Epic? Well I can tell you that he certainly didn’t expect to hear that his wife should be raped and killed, that’s for sure.

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#13 Posted by simmant (89 posts) -

@cikame: There is no defense for what people did to these devs! None! Zero! So stop trying! Continuing to pass the same bullshit and lies off as a justification just makes you look like you think threatening anyone over a fucking video game is ever okay in any circumstance, which it is not. Gamers are terrible people, don't be a part of it.

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#14 Posted by conmulligan (1950 posts) -

@cikame: So, they didn't promise a Steam version when accepting donations.

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#15 Posted by cikame (2920 posts) -

@simmant: There's no room in this discussion for the original issue? I'm not sure what we get out of just shaming the obviously vile response, the thread will be pretty one note otherwise.

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#16 Posted by simmant (89 posts) -

@cikame: There is no original issue. There is nothing wrong with the statement they put out! This thread doesn't need to be a discussion about whether they deserved some of the death threats and just not all. They changed storefronts where they planned to offer the game in the future, that is it, that is all they did. It is literally a non-issue that effects no one and any one who thinks it is anything more than that needs to grow the fuck up!

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#17 Edited by OMGFather (1061 posts) -
@simmant said:

@cikame: There is no defense for what people did to these devs! None! Zero! So stop trying! Continuing to pass the same bullshit and lies off as a justification just makes you look like you think threatening anyone over a fucking video game is ever okay in any circumstance, which it is not. Gamers are terrible people, don't be a part of it.

He's not defending the hate. Nobody can defend that, it's disgusting. But the developer could have handled this A LOT better. That's all he's saying. It's no surprising in this world today the response they got, that's the sad state of affairs. Being sarcastic and light hearted about it all is just asking for a response. Sure, not a response as extreme as this - again nobody can defend that - but they must have expected something from what they were doing. They can't be that oblivious.

If they just accepted the Epic deal and put up a straight announcement like "Hey, we've signed an Epic exclusivity deal, this will be a lot better for us financially and offers us guaranteed money after release" all would have been fine. Sure, you still get a lot of upset people but they added fuel to the fire with their sarcastic announcements, smug responses and telling customers to "oh well, wait" because the Epic store doesn't support their currency. If you can't handle that stuff, hire a PR person or don't say anything at all.

The hate is not defendable, but the developers aren't 100% innocent in this so stop trying to point them out as martyrs.

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#18 Posted by Casepb (756 posts) -

Honestly, they did this to themselves. If it was truly just about selling out to Epic that would be one thing. But they started throwing out insults and belittling people. I don't have much sympathy for them.

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#19 Posted by ShaggE (9305 posts) -

I saw a comment over at Kotaku defending the behavior by comparing the backlash to the American Revolution, and I haven't been able to stop laughing since. Fucking video game culture, man.

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#20 Edited by Sweep (10609 posts) -

@omgfather said:
@simmant said:

@cikame: There is no defense for what people did to these devs! None! Zero! So stop trying! Continuing to pass the same bullshit and lies off as a justification just makes you look like you think threatening anyone over a fucking video game is ever okay in any circumstance, which it is not. Gamers are terrible people, don't be a part of it.

If they just accepted the Epic deal and put up a straight announcement like "Hey, we've signed an Epic exclusivity deal, this will be a lot better for us financially and offers us guaranteed money after release" all would have been fine. Sure, you still get a lot of upset people but they added fuel to the fire with their sarcastic announcements, smug responses and telling customers to "oh well, wait" because the Epic store doesn't support their currency. If you can't handle that stuff, hire a PR person or don't say anything at all.

The hate is not defendable, but the developers aren't 100% innocent in this so stop trying to point them out as martyrs.

@casepb said:

Honestly, they did this to themselves. If it was truly just about selling out to Epic that would be one thing. But they started throwing out insults and belittling people. I don't have much sympathy for them.

See I don't know how you can read the statement they made (linked in the OP) and still maintain that they deserve anything remotely like the reaction they got, and even if you think they deserved a fraction of this backlash don't you think they've been punished enough by now? I don't see how anyone can call themselves a videogame enthusiast and feel the way you guys do, because that's not the behavior of someone who cares about developers or videogames or, on a fundamental level, people. So when I read posts like this I assume you're either heartless, with absolutely no compassion, or trolling.

If you don't like the way they do business then don't support the business. That's as far as your entitlement goes. You're right, the hate is not defendable, so stop trying to defend it.

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#21 Posted by cikame (2920 posts) -

@omgfather: Thank you :P, i was feeling alone there.
And about the current state of affairs on the internet, i believe the internet has always been a ruthless place, that's why we've all used fake names and protected our identities since the start, you shouldn't trust a stranger after all.
With the extreme growth of people using the internet and the advent of social media, whose creators for some reason want us all to use our real names and expose ourselves to harm, we've never been so well connected to so many strangers, so more and more we're seeing situations like this blow up more than they should.
One person connected to thousands does something tens or hundreds don't like, the Youtube content creators grab the story and tell it to thousands more, who take it to Twitter and Reddit where it also gets picked up by media outlets, you know how it goes, suddenly one persons decision has touched millions, that's the internet.

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#22 Posted by OMGFather (1061 posts) -

They've been punished enough, sure, and I'm sure they regret everything about their announcements and what they said and if they could do it all again differently they would. How can you say we don't care about video games when a developer like this comes out and is so nonchalant about turning away paying customers? The video game enthusiasts you talk about. Yeah you can bet I think they deserve a little of the backlash. Nothing so extreme though. But this toxic culture has been going for years, it's nothing new. They should have expected it.

But I give up. Seemingly these developers are immune to criticism otherwise you're justifying hate and "heartless" as you put it. I'll say no more on it.

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#24 Edited by acharlie1377 (146 posts) -

@omgfather@cikame@casepb I don't think anyone would make the case that the developers handled things perfectly. Even if their messaging was done with the best of intentions, it's easy to look at the environment surrounding the Epic Game Store and know that they should have maybe been a little more sympathetic. Others have already mentioned that none of that excuses the level of vitriol directed at these people, so I won't go into that. However, I will argue that how the developers presented this information, and the hatred directed at them because of the announcement, are almost entirely unrelated.

If the devs had been nicer about the move to the Epic Game Store, do you think people would have avoided sending death threats? If those gamers hadn't been told to "not get mad," do you think they would have abstained from saying the dev's loved ones should be raped or killed? I don't think these people reached this level of hate because of some mild dickishness by a team of two developers; they would have reached this level of hate regardless of the messaging, because some people (especially on the internet) are staggeringly terrible and entitled people. These people would have the same response regardless of how the move was presented.

Obviously, if you want to criticize how the team dealt with this move, that's fair; these kinds of things have been mishandled ever since the Epic store launched, and it's not something that should just be ignored. That said, it's not relevant to this conversation. The OP is saying that something is bad and indefensible, and you're responding by saying that something else is also bad. You're not necessarily saying anything wrong, and you're not necessarily defending these people, but this is definitely the wrong context for what you're saying. It's like hearing news that a man beat his wife, and then mentioning that the wife never took out the trash.

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#25 Posted by Brackstone (946 posts) -

I dislike the EGS about as much as anyone, but boy is this a mess. I wish people could just be decent to other people. Their original post was definitely stoking the fires but as usual the internet took it all way too far.

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#26 Edited by SethMode (2062 posts) -

@omgfather: Pretty big gulf between being a shit head and mildly bad PR. Seriously like, read the messages that they got.

The "removed for criticism" part is what literally stumps me..

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#27 Posted by gunflame88 (395 posts) -

Let it be known to the Internet that I too believe that death threats are bad, and that I am a very moral and virtuous person for it.

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#28 Edited by Humanity (18965 posts) -

@omgfather: I'm just not sure what you want to get out of the other side of the argument. Did the switch to a different platform inconvenience some potential customers? Yah sure, absolutely. Was their messaging kinda awkward? Yah. Thats about it. Game companies have been non-chalantly turning away potential customers for years through exclusive deals. From Software released three highly popular Souls games on multiple platforms and then did an exclusive deal for Bloodborne. Thats a much higher profile game and people simply accepted it as the status quo with some disappointed grumbling. I don't think anyone called for the rape and death of the developers in that situation. The Ooblets devs took a deal in order to make more money and have a more secure future so they can keep a roof over their head - the flipside is that some percentage of gamers will be "inconvenienced" when accessing the game because of this situation. People aren't discussing the other side because there isn't that much to say about it, and it definitely absolutely pales in comparison with the bigger picture which is this absolutely inhumane hatemob that descended upon them. The story is not even so much about these two people, but about the state of the internet and gaming enthusiasts as a whole. If this is how people are going to be reacting to unfavorable news in the gaming space from now on then I'm really, really worried and to be honest a little scared, because this is pretty terrifying.

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#29 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4507 posts) -

@acharlie1377:

Given that we're talking about the game industry + internet, they would have probably received death threats no matter what. It takes 1 minute to get your hatred across to your target, and there's no drawback for the person that sends it. It's absolutely horrible and i can't imagine anyone still being unbanned on GB.com if they were in support of that. But there does seem to be a wide difference in the scale of harassment a game like Ooblets got for their exclusivity message compared to games like Industries of Titan, The Cycle & Control, so it does seem like the messaging in these delicate issues does make a change in volume.

There's something to be said for not being afraid to poke the hornet's nest and speak frank, but it can't be healthy for 2 people to attract so much negative attention. Like it turned into an event for the worst kind of the internet to be very very mad and slander them with fake messages to get more and more people on the bandwagon. And then you have this clown Sweeney stoke even more anger with his 'haha fuck Steam, we're the best platform' attitude to pour more gas on the fire for these smaller teams.

Personally, i'm not bothered with indies taking the epic deals. You wouldn't be able to run a company if you didn't take this deal right now. If Epic didn't guarantee these devs to at least make the break-even point, you could have your worries about the size of the EGS population and whether or not the millions of Fortnite kids would be interested in branching out to small indie games. But that's all been taken care for, so it's a no-brainer to agree to this deal. Get paid! No, it's the longterm implications for the indiescene that bother me with Epic.

Running a store that's supposed to be all about visibility but mostly promotes the big games they have pumped money into while shoving games like Donut Country & Gorogoa far far far away in a dusty corner with no options to ever find it again. Naturally visibility for games would be big for a new platform. That's an innate trait of a smaller platform. But when i see that the visibility on the niche titles is that bad now already, it's clear which games they want to offer the visibility to and which ones not.

Then we have the mandatory creator revenue sharing that cuts at both sides of the streaming industry: All creators,big & small, are financially incentivized to stream & make videos for the Epic games that gives them the best financial benefit, indie games are incentivized to offer a pricing model that makes it worthwhile enough for streamers to promote their game over the other options. Both will make it increasingly difficult for smaller studio's to find succes. At some point your online presence might just not be there if your game is not a compelling financial option on the epic store. For creators, making a living through streaming / making videos is already incredibly hard so they have to choose the most profitable venture at all times.

And sure, that's mostly already a reality with the biggest streamers playing the same handful of games and getting deals to play the latest games for a few days for a fee. But this mandatory revshare program Epic uses, impacts creators of all sizes, which might severely affect the visibility of smaller games that used to be played by variety streamers or smaller channels. If i was an up& coming content creator, why would i not choose for the option that allows me to make some money as well? Why would i not pick the option that makes me the most money? I probably wouldn't have found the youtube video's for all the challenge rooms in the small Steam game 'A Pixel Story' in this instance. The big get bigger while the small get smaller. All in all, a far cry from elevating good games and a direct attack on every game that's not part of the Epic Store.

It also doesn't help that Epic still thinks i'm a russian with rubles in my pocket for literally no reason and doesn't support the one payment processor i could use. But those are growing pains that will get better in time. I'm much more wary of their longterm strategy. But hey, let's hope i will end up being wrong about all of this and indie games will have a wonderful future. Right now, a few indie games certainly get the deal of their lives and that's a good thing.

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#30 Edited by notnert427 (2289 posts) -

@sweep said:

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.

This bit is very good and I completely agree. There is a rapidly growing contingent of the gaming community that wields a "the customer is always right" sword of gross entitlement every chance they get (even when they aren't actually a customer). Having to download a free game launcher is not remotely a hardship. Nor are publishers somehow obligated to provide a game on your platform of choice. Nor should they have to jump through hoops for non-customers who might buy their game if they do x and y and z. Fuck off with that shit.

I'm finding that the vast majority of this mentality seems to be rooted in people simply not wanting to pay for games. "I don't want to download that launcher, so I just have to pirate this game now." Yeah, sure you do. "Maybe if they'd steeply discount this brand-new game for me, I'd buy it." Asking full price at launch isn't unfair. "I don't like x publisher, so I refuse to support them." Awesome, now the devs suffer for this apparently noble non-sacrifice.

Then these same folks get irate and act all betrayed when small devs sign deals with large publishers for some financial stability. Fucking hell, YOU are the reason they have to do things like this. And there's a hard nope now from the gaming community on microtransactions and paid DLC, so apparently devs are supposed to just make full games for every platform (and launcher), stiff-arm any and all offers of publisher support, and sell their games for less than market price so people don't refuse to buy or pirate them. Yep, that all sounds very viable and lucrative.

This guy is right. He probably shouldn't have come out and said it for PR reasons, and I'm not a huge fan of Epic, either, but kudos to him for having the stones to call out this gamer entitlement bullshit, because it has indeed gotten utterly out of hand. A bunch of people need to take a hard look in the mirror and honestly ask themselves if they're just trying to find reasons to be cheap/unethical before it comes at the expense of the whole fucking industry.

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#31 Posted by dudeglove (13782 posts) -

I followed this thing from the moment it started and saw how quickly that discord server degraded. The flippant tweets from Sweeney did them no favors either.

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#32 Edited by Casepb (756 posts) -

@casepb said:

Honestly, they did this to themselves. If it was truly just about selling out to Epic that would be one thing. But they started throwing out insults and belittling people. I don't have much sympathy for them.

@sweep said:

See I don't know how you can read the statement they made (linked in the OP) and still maintain that they deserve anything remotely like the reaction they got, and even if you think they deserved a fraction of this backlash don't you think they've been punished enough by now?

I will agree they don't deserve death threats, but it's incredibly hard to feel sorry for them for acting so unprofessional and ignorant. How could they not have expected this amount of negativity? You can't patronize crazy people on the internet and not expect death threats. That's one of the first rules of the internet. This whole situation reminds me of the Borderlands 3 deal and crazy ass Randy. I guess nobody feels sorry for him though because he's such a creep?

@acharlie1377: I honestly believe it wouldn't have been as bad, yeah. Sure you would still get some awfully negative things from the more crazy ones, but there's no way it would have been as many. The devs pretty much threw fuel on the fire causing an explosion of hate.

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#33 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

Anyone who has ever worked retail or customer service knows that, "The customer is always right," is used as a cudgel by entitled consumers who think that consuming gives them the inalienable right to berate and belittle the people who sell the product.

The initial messaging wasn't great. Okay. The responses from entitled gamers have been fucking indefensible and, in fact, literal crimes.

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#34 Posted by Efesell (4572 posts) -

Oh yeah for sure maybe death threats are taking it a bit far but have you considered that perhaps they just shouldn't have been so rude.

Man, some of y'all..

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#35 Posted by cikame (2920 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: I work in retail, sometimes direct customer service, i believe in the "customer is always right" mentality in the sense that it prevents arguments, and to a degree that is what we're seeing here.
Is it a healthy mantra? Probably not, has it produced unreasonable expectations in the eyes of a lot of consumers? I think so. Do we expect a husband and wife indie developer to cater to consumers the same way a hotel or a Walmart does? I think a lot of us would give them a pass if it came to things like a lack of communication, late development targets and even this exclusivity deal, if they just simply applied some of the aforementioned customer service and apologized while explaining the goals behind the deal in an honest and inviting way.
They're going to sell the game, it's a product, it has been a product for years, but some of the "anti entitlement" replies they've been giving make me think their original plan for the game was to keep it private, a personal project, they need to decide whether what they're making is for themselves or a market with various needs and requirements.
@dudeglove: Yeah someone needs to put a gag on Tim Sweeney, he's making it real hard for me to even want to find positives in the EGS.

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#36 Posted by notnert427 (2289 posts) -

Anyone who has ever worked retail or customer service knows that, "The customer is always right," is used as a cudgel by entitled consumers who think that consuming gives them the inalienable right to berate and belittle the people who sell the product.

The initial messaging wasn't great. Okay. The responses from entitled gamers have been fucking indefensible and, in fact, literal crimes.

This. There is an entire group of people who fancy themselves a king atop a throne due to the mere possibility that they might spend a few bucks and expect producers to grovel before them to try and gain their precious favor, which is a ridiculously shitty perspective.

@casepb said:

I will agree they don't deserve death threats, but it's incredibly hard to feel sorry for them for acting so unprofessional and ignorant. How could they not have expected this amount of negativity? You can't patronize crazy people on the internet and not expect death threats. That's one of the first rules of the internet. This whole situation reminds me of the Borderlands 3 deal and crazy ass Randy. I guess nobody feels sorry for him though because he's such a creep?

@acharlie1377: I honestly believe it wouldn't have been as bad, yeah. Sure you would still get some awfully negative things from the more crazy ones, but there's no way it would have been as many. The devs pretty much threw fuel on the fire causing an explosion of hate.

Their initial statement was arguably too flippant and ill-advised from a PR standpoint, and I suppose the backlash to it is sadly unsurprising, but telling entitled people that they're entitled is completely fair. Then these same entitled people proved them completely right by going off the deep end because the devs dared to point out entitlement that these people know that they possess, but absolutely refuse to admit. So the reaction was instead to throw insane tantrums that someone called them on their bullshit.

I wholly disagree with the notion that everyone should cater to, as you put it, crazy people. Entitlement is an awful attitude, and it's asinine that companies should have to defend logical/necessary financial decisions to try and appease entitled consumers and also tiptoe around trying not to offend them in the process of explaining how consumers saying "maybe I'll buy your game if you do this and this and this" doesn't pay the bills, which should be fucking obvious.

Invoking Randy in this is very off-base. That guy has plenty of questionable behavior over the years and recently that reasonably warrants some criticism. These devs merely calling a spade a spade is way different, and it's something that arguably needed to be said in response to the increasing entitlement that is a very real threat to the viability of the gaming industry.

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#37 Posted by simmant (89 posts) -

I think if you "don't feel sorry" for people receiving hundreds of threats to rape and murder them and their family, there is something wrong with you. Like if you can honestly justify all this away as "well they should have known better", you are actually part of the problem. If we want this kind of shit to stop, if we want the "gaming community" to not be the vile, nightmarish hellhole it has become, have a spine and condemn this kind of behavior, make it clear that you don't think it has any place and that the people who engage in it don't deserve anything other than shame and ridicule. They don't deserve a place in the conversation, but by saying that you on any level understand why this backlash happened, you are giving them one. There isn't a moral grey area on this and anyone acting like there is, is actually just enabling the continued harassment of game devs over literally nothing.

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#38 Posted by Casepb (756 posts) -

@notnert427:"tiptoe around trying not to offend them in the process"

Unfortunately that is exactly the times we live in. Every little thing said on the internet today has to be super carefully worded or else you will offend the masses of social media. I totally agree with you though, it is asinine.

And yeah, Randy Pitchford is far more unprofessional, I agree. I just was simply reminded how he kept making things worse and didn't know when to just stop and leave it be.

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#39 Posted by notnert427 (2289 posts) -

@casepb said:

@notnert427:"tiptoe around trying not to offend them in the process"

Unfortunately that is exactly the times we live in. Every little thing said on the internet today has to be super carefully worded or else you will offend the masses of social media. I totally agree with you though, it is asinine.

And yeah, Randy Pitchford is far more unprofessional, I agree. I just was simply reminded how he kept making things worse and didn't know when to just stop and leave it be.

There are things worth getting offended about, and things that really fucking aren't. Devs signing on with a publisher and maybe being a bit too honest as to one of the reasons why with an accurate point about gamer entitlement in their announcement is certainly the latter.

I guess I can see where you're coming from re: Randy in that it similarly didn't help them to try and "explain" further on their discord, but the big difference there is that Randy was just directing random meltdown tirades at the world while simultaneously being a highly questionable shitshow of a person even beyond social media.

These guys just seem like they were legitimately trying to detail what went into their decision to sign on with Epic and addressed some understandable frustrations many devs face, and had that quickly spiral out of their control as the internet hate machine got out their torches because the devs criticized entitled behaviors these people clearly embody.

Having read through both the dev's comments and the truly awful shit from the internet, I damn sure know who I'm siding with in this thing. Frankly, that poor guy's biggest mistake was engaging with the internet, and the awful shit people said to him is truly inexcusable hate speech.

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#40 Edited by acharlie1377 (146 posts) -

@casepb said:

@acharlie1377: I honestly believe it wouldn't have been as bad, yeah. Sure you would still get some awfully negative things from the more crazy ones, but there's no way it would have been as many. The devs pretty much threw fuel on the fire causing an explosion of hate.

It might have been less bad, but you're still left with the fact that some people would have sent genuine rape and death threats just for a developer changing storefronts. Saying the developer should have seen this coming, and you feel no sympathy for them, is a strange tack, and one weirdly distanced from the humanity of the people involved. Just because you disagree with how they handled things doesn't mean they're suddenly deserving of what they received; if you had made the points you're making now on Twitter, and you received comments threatening you and your family, I don't think anyone here would feel like you "got what was coming to you."

You're still responding to a statement of "this thing is bad" with "but something else is also bad!", and it doesn't make sense in the current context. This thread is not a debate about who is in the right, it's about one party that was definitely in the wrong, which is the people who sent death and rape threats. The developer's behavior doesn't make those people any better for doing so, and even partially absolving these people because you think the developers are dickheads is a weirdly disconnected way to treat other human beings. This isn't some faceless corporation that can just bear or hide from the brunt of consumer anger, it's two people trying to make a game, and these death threats are very real and very terrifying to them.

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#41 Edited by Hayt (1693 posts) -

Okay so the tone has been clear that this topic is inarguable and anyone who disagrees is a bad person. What's the trajectory for this thread? People posting "yes I also agree this is bad wholeheartedly" because if your goal is to get people to stop spending death threats or believing fake news I'm not sure this is the community to try and bring this to. I think the EGS is bad and have no interest in using it but obviously death threats aren't okay.

Go post this on r/fuckepic or something if you're actually interested in bringing this to the people involved.

I'm not saying there's no point to threads like this on smaller forums like this but I just don't see a huge value when there's no discussion to be had. OP is very convinced of their views regarding the value of the EGS and we've already had a thread on that. If we're here to discuss the news story then the extent of it is: the devs mishandled it but the reaction is clearly disproportionate. It's a dirty word these days but beyond posting for the purposes of virtue signaling I just don't see this thread having much meaningful discussion.

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#42 Edited by BoOzak (2649 posts) -

@hayt: Threads like these are just the result of Giant Bomb not having news staff so moderators sometimes try to fill that void, even if theres very little to discuss.

Hell, I sometimes even post trailers from movies or games that interest me even if theres very little discussion value because i'd rather talk about it here than on youtube or something.

There have been multiple controversies where someone does something stupid and the backlash is overblown and people calling out the stupidity are labled monsters. I generally stay away because it's always the same cycle and the thread generally gets locked.

Online
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#43 Posted by deckard (364 posts) -

Can you imagine what Valve would have gone through if they released Steam today? Could you IMAGINE the amount of hate mail, death threats, doxxing, etc.? And another insane thing that no one brings up: Valve is a private company. They don’t have to reveal who their investors are. So it’s ridiculous for these people to be yelling about “Chinese investor spies” or whatever the duck because Valve may have as much or MORE Chinese involved in their operations! Game fandom fucking sucks and I wish it ill.

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#44 Edited by gunflame88 (395 posts) -

Interesting how right and above criticism someone becomes in this industry after getting a few death threats, because, of course, still criticizing that someone equates to totally condoning death threats, right? Hell, maybe it even means that you are secretly pro-death threat, and need to get beaten over the head with some blase statements about ethics and morality that literally anyone regularly visiting a website like Giant Bomb already agrees with anyway.

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#45 Posted by konig_kei (1032 posts) -

Guess Fox News was right about video games causing violence.

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#46 Posted by cikame (2920 posts) -

@boozak: For me it's a result of the GB staff always being on the same page when it comes to someone in the industry having troubles, developers get the first defence unless you're Anthem or Randy Pitchford, or maybe they just don't want to receive any flack for their opinions which is understandable, but i'm very much a two sides of a coin kind of person.
If something causes outrage i'd rather talk about the something.

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#47 Posted by someoneproud (631 posts) -

I think the scale/nature of the reaction is both completely reprehensible and largely predictable. They were always gonna stoke some fires with the way they presented the news and could certainly have done more to avoid this situation.

I'm sure all of us agree the reaction has gone too far but in the current climate a reaction of some kind was inevitable. Personally I think a store front is a weird thing to get upset about but it's common knowledge there are plenty who do get upset about it and that's their prerogative so long as they aren't terrorizing folk over it.

My own preferred store front is GOG, I don't like either Steam or EGS and do not buy games there. I wouldn't dream of getting up in arms over the many, MANY games that have decided not to launch on my preferred store front and sending hateful messages because of it is plain fucking mental imo.

I can sympathise with those that don't want to use the EGS, whatever their reasons but some of the hateful tantrums are idiotic, ineffectual and needlessly harmful. Tbf I've seen nobody here condoning any of these more extreme reactions and I wouldn't have expected any less from you fine folks.

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#48 Posted by notnert427 (2289 posts) -

I think the scale/nature of the reaction is both completely reprehensible and largely predictable. They were always gonna stoke some fires with the way they presented the news and could certainly have done more to avoid this situation.

I'm sure all of us agree the reaction has gone too far but in the current climate a reaction of some kind was inevitable. Personally I think a store front is a weird thing to get upset about but it's common knowledge there are plenty who do get upset about it and that's their prerogative so long as they aren't terrorizing folk over it.

My own preferred store front is GOG, I don't like either Steam or EGS and do not buy games there. I wouldn't dream of getting up in arms over the many, MANY games that have decided not to launch on my preferred store front and sending hateful messages because of it is plain fucking mental imo.

I can sympathise with those that don't want to use the EGS, whatever their reasons but some of the hateful tantrums are idiotic, ineffectual and needlessly harmful. Tbf I've seen nobody here condoning any of these more extreme reactions and I wouldn't have expected any less from you fine folks.

Good post. The one thing I will point out is that the devs here were clearly aware that people have issues with the EGS even before they signed on with them, as this thing basically all spiraled out of control because they put out counter-arguments to some of that, along with pointing out the role of gamer entitlement in their decision.

They absolutely could have avoided some of this if they'd taken a more tactful stance with their announcement, but I really struggle to blame them too much when all they did "wrong" was to state some harsh truths that gamers didn't like hearing about themselves. I'm no dev, but I completely get where they're coming from because I observe and get frustrated with the same shit from the gaming community, and it doesn't impact my bottom line and threaten my career the way it does for devs.

So I put myself in their shoes for a bit. This seems like a dude who made an earnest attempt to detail the realities of development and tried to explain it to a group of people who truly doesn't give a shit and just expects to be provided everything they want on their silver platter of choice. And the second he pointed that out, he got utterly bulldozed by the internet hate machine for it. That's.... pretty shitty, and all it really did was prove him correct, but gamers went well-beyond mere entitlement and rapidly escalated this thing into territory that's downright frightening.

I'm glad to see that no one here is really making the argument that the way out-of-bounds response to this was acceptable, but it IS worth discussing. As a community, we do need to check ourselves as gamers on occasion. Yeah, it's not really a bold moral stance to say that death threats are bad, but we also need to not just ignore shit like this to avoid normalizing this behavior via tacit acceptance of it through silence.

I'd further contend that even though the dev probably shouldn't have pointed out the entitlement, people should legitimately consider what they said and how they behave as a consumer. It's very easy to not buy things, and having the ability to do so does not make someone a god. Everyone claims to support devs and hates big publishers these days, and then expects steep discounts, pirates games, and demands releases on their platform of choice (and launcher, for fuck's sake).

Expecting devs to stay indie and give gamers everything before gamers give them anything in return is basically the textbook definition of entitlement. There has to be a better balance here. We as gamers can't constantly wield our dollar like kings who must be impressed and then get irate at the results of that, or go full-on apeshit if someone dares point out that this behavior is shitty.

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#49 Posted by Brackstone (946 posts) -

@notnert427: I think the commenting on entitlement was only part of the problem people had with the post.

To take the topic of fake news that was brought up in the OP, there's been a lot of positive fake news surrounding the epic store too, specifically stoked by Tim Sweeney, and when people have gotten most upset is when the devs parrot that back to the public.

Straight up, if a dev just takes the Epic money cause they need the money, cause making games is hard, cause it provides financial stability, that's totally their prerogative. I'll still dislike Epic for their practice of paying games away from steam, but I can't fault the devs for making the decision that's right for them. And that's what that Ooblets post started off as, but then they started to get into tired old talking points that have had holes poked in them so many times over the past few months. Again, nothing to deserve harassment, but it's something they absolutely should have known would not go over well.

I think that's why the Epic store has become such a focal point for anger, a lot of devs, journalists and Epic themselves never seem to acknowledge the very real issues people have with the platform. And I'm not talking about the chinese spy agency bullshit. I'm talking about how they're going to sustain a storefront with such a low cut while relying on massive payouts to gain exclusives, how only games/devs with established markets and fans seem to get spots on the store, how small games absolutely will get turned down because Epic has to manually add each game to the store which means there's a limited number of games they can add each month/year, how Valve uses their higher cut to fund projects that make gaming affordable all over the world for both consumers and devs, and how the epic store hurts all stores instead of just steam. But every time a game goes exclusive, it's a bunch of "it's just another storefront you have to download" "valve takes an unfair cut" "valve has a monopoly" "this is good for smaller devs" and "competition is good". I'm not saying valve is a saint, their hands off approach to running a storefront has so many issues of it's own, but the Epic store has serious problems that can't be hand waved away.

Again, to clarify, nothing justifies the kinds of messages the Ooblets devs have been getting. I think the reason it's become such a hot button topic is because people have issues with something and feel like nobody in the industry is taking those issues seriously, which means they take to reddit and forums to talk to like minded people and the assholes among them let those issues fester until it becomes harassment. And this is a situation I think Tim Sweeney is actively stoking. Half the time it feels like the argument around the epic store is "it's a chinese spy agency" vs "valve has a monopoly, it's just another launcher" and it drives me insane because there's a legitimate, substantial conversation to be had here and it's impossible to see it through all the misinformation put out by Epic on the one side and the crybaby internet hate mobs on the other.

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#50 Posted by notnert427 (2289 posts) -

@brackstone:

I highly doubt that the majority of the people who latched onto this thing actually give a shit about Ooblets at all, and instead just pounced on an opportunity to blast Epic/EGS. I suppose that sort-of comes with the territory once the devs signed on with Epic and somewhat defended EGS, but that also doesn't make this little dev team somehow responsible for every shortcoming of Epic as a company and EGS as a storefront. Yet gamers jumped at the chance to put it all on them ridiculously, with a bonus of some incredibly awful stuff on top of that wasn't remotely warranted.

Full disclosure; I'm not a PC gamer, and I've never used EGS. However, my understanding is that it's a fucking launcher. How is that such a goddamn big deal? It's one thing to get annoyed at exclusives on a different platform (although that's still a personal choice people have to take the good and bad of, especially if/when they cite exclusives on their platform to justify choice of said platform), but we're talking about a launcher. How is that a significant hardship? Hell, how is it fundamentally a bigger ask than Steam, or GOG, or the Microsoft Store, or Origin, etc., etc.? I'm sure EGS isn't perfect, but what is?

For me, what this whole thing does is make me want to disengage with gaming a bit. When "I have to download a launcher?" elicits death threats, there's a goddamn problem. And it's not just a few bad apples. This toxic shit is everywhere, and I'm watching these tribes form and strengthen that are basically hate groups spewing the most vile vitriol over anything that doesn't 100% align with/cater to their sub-sub-group within a fucking hobby.

The conversation to be had here shouldn't be about the trivial-ass topic of if EGS is a quality storefront. It should be trying to figure out how in the fuck things have gotten bad enough to where an opinion on that elicits legit hatred/threats/harassment. That's reprehensible and incomprehensible. I'm not saying we're going to solve that here on GB or that anyone here is really defending it, but holy hell, lines were definitely crossed in this thing and that really shouldn't be ignored.

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