Dev Receives Thousands Of "Hateful, Threatening" Messages Over Epic Exclusivity Deal
The indie developers behind the farming and creature-collecting game Ooblets recently announced an exclusivity deal with Epic to launch the title as a timed exclusive for the Epic Games Store. Developer Glumberland’s two developers–Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasse–received an enormous amount of “hateful, threatening” messages over the deal.
Writing on Patreon (via GI.biz), the developers spoke about the awful messages they have received after announcing their partnership with Epic.
“We really misjudged how angry so many people would be. This whole thing has just devastated us. We’ve been getting thousands if not tens of thousands of hateful, threatening messages across every possible platform nonstop. It’s especially hurtful since we’ve had such a positive, supportive relationship with our audience throughout development.”
The statement goes on: “I have been crying nonstop for the last two days and feeling like the world has collapsed around me. I couldn’t have guessed the scale of what it would feel like to be the target of an internet hate mob. I already had a lot of empathy for other targets of previous hate mobs, which is why we wanted to address that sort of thinking in our announcement, but I had no idea it was this bad.”
In a post on its own website, Epic said the news surrounding Ooblets “highlighted a disturbing trend which is growing and undermining healthy public discourse, and that’s the coordinated and deliberate creation and promotion of false information, including fake screenshots, videos, and technical analysis, accompanied by harassment of partners, promotion of hateful themes, and intimidation of those with opposing views.”
The company said it is pursuing exclusives so aggressively because it believes, in the end, it will lead to a “healthier and more competitive multi-store world for the future.”
The Epic Games Store pays developers an 88% cut of revenue, with Epic taking 12% as the store owner. This is far friendlier than the current average industry split on stores like Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation where the developer/publisher gets 70 percent and the store-owner keeps 30.
Epic said it remains “fully committed” to its plans for the Epic Games Store even amidst “these challenges” as it relates to controversy about exclusives.
“Many thanks to all of you that continue to promote and advocate for healthy, truthful discussion about the games business and stand up to all manners of abuse,” Epic said.
Ooblets was originally going to be published by Double Fine. However, after Microsoft acquired Double Fine, Glumberland announced that it would self-publish, before later confirming a deal with Epic to help fund the game in exchange for releasing it on the Epic Games Store.
In a blog post, Glumberland stated that signing with Epic was a “big decision” the studio didn’t take lightly. “[Epic] offered us a minimum guarantee on sales that would match what we’d be wanting to earn if we were just selling Ooblets across all the stores,” Glumberland wrote. “That takes a huge burden of uncertainty off of us because now we know that no matter what, the game won’t fail.”
The financial security, according to Glumberland, gives the studio peace of mind, allowing the small team to “focus on making the game without worrying about keeping the lights on [and] afford more help and resources to start ramping up production and doing some cooler things.”
The studio anticipated blowback about the partnership with Epic, and asked its fans to “look at the things going on and ask if there might be anything just a tad more worthwhile to be upset about” like human rights abuses and climate change.
One of the next major Epic Games Store exclusives is Borderlands 3. The game launches in September and will remain exclusive to the store until April 2020. The PS4 and Xbox One versions will release normally.
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