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Epic Games has finally stepped forward and delivered a statement on the abuse of developers which have signed deals with the store. Late last week, the Ooblets studio posted a controversial statement explaining their reasoning for becoming an Epic Store exclusive. It was a bit a tongue in cheek yet poorly thought it, and boy have they been paying for it since.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney basically threw Ooblets development studio Glumberland under the bus over the weekend when he tweeted out “In response to community feedback, I have reviewed the tone of the Ooblets exclusivity announcement and wish to make the following official statement: IT WAS AWESOME!”
IT WAS AWESOME!
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 3, 2019
It was an irresponsible thing to tweet that was only ever going to fan the flames of the most vociferous haters. That’s really not a great way to encourage other developers to sign on with the EGS and fails to account for the impact a hatemob can have, particularly when targeting attacks at smaller developers.
The onus has to be on Epic to support the devs here, advising them on the best methods to handle the announcement and their audience. Sweeney just hung them out to dry here and Glumberland has been subjected to thousands of threats and abusive messages.
However people feel about Epic Games Store exclusives, they certainly shouldn’t be hurling threats of violence the developers’ way. There’s no excuse for that sort of behaviour and some serious perspective is needed. If people are genuinely feeling rage (enough to make violent threats), rather than mere annoyance, about a game coming to a free launcher, they’ve got issues they should definitely sort out. All they have to do is wait a year and buy it on Steam, it’s a frustration but no biggie.
But yes, the statement from the Ooblets developer was clumsy in the extreme. It was condescending and it was inflammatory, as was the handling of subsequent community interactions, but if anyone’s getting genuinely offended about being called “baby gamers” then, well, if the cap fits and all that. A lot of the images that are circulating are also fabricated as well, such as the one below. All it takes is a look at the times they were posted to see the reply went up before the message. It’s fake; weaponising disinformation to make the developer look even worse than they do already. It’s also got 1,300 likes from people who’ve just accepted it at base value.
And again, I really do think Epic Games has a major responsibility here, and that’s probably why they’ve now issued a statement on misinformation and abuse. I’m sure they’re all too aware they’ve let Glumberland down here and they need to be more careful with the messaging. It’s all very well saying they’re in for the developers with their 88/12 cut, but they’ve got to back them elsewhere too.
Here is the statement, in full, from Epic Games.
“We at Epic Games have often shared our views about the game business and companies in it, and we support the entire game community’s right to speak freely and critically about these topics, including the topic of Epic, our products, and our store. When everyone shares their earnest views, the best ideas ultimately prevail.
“The announcement of 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.
“Epic is working together with many game developers and other partners to build what we believe will be a healthier and more competitive multi-store world for the future. We remain fully committed, and we will steadfastly support our partners throughout these challenges. 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.”
And this is what we call a big old mess. The Epic Store circus truly knows no bounds these days but at least they’re taking a few additional measures to help out developers.