Eagerly-anticipated farming game Ooblets will be released on the Epic Games Store as a timed-exclusive PC release, developer Glumberland announced last week. The video game, which doesn't yet have a release date, will launch on Xbox One—the timed-exclusivity is only for PC. And eventually, after "a pretty long while," Ooblets will be available via other PC storefronts, like Steam. Glumberland, comprised of Rebecca Cordingley and her husband Ben Wasser, received "a minimum guarantee" on sales—money upfront—that totals the amount the team wanted to reach if they were to sell on all online storefronts.
I’ve been a supporter of Ooblets on Patreon for quite a while. The devs are very fun and kind people from everything they’ve presented and gave been working on creating something very fun.
It’s been so upsetting to see the harassment they have received.
My intro to this story was reading their announcement of taking the timed exclusivity deal and I’m not surprised things got this bad (though I am still disgusted).
The entire first half of the announcement was a sarcastic cutting off of anyone who may have issue with the decision in absurd hyperbole, in the tone of an old fashion internet troll trying to derail a thread by making a select few posters angry enough to engage. The part of the statement where they actually explained their understandable reasons was fine, but everything before it was very ill conceived. I’m not sure how they expected people would react to that.
HOWEVER, capital g Gamers deciding this means they get to stalk, harass, and attempt to dox them is inexcusable under any circumstance.
The entire problem with trying to talk about the genuinely worrying problems of Epic’s aggressive moves in the PC market space and why it may be bad for indie development in the long run (especially if you make visual novels) is that the racist, sexist hordes who share this hobby with us have dived into the issue with their usual tact and understanding (aka none at all) while failing to understand what their complaints even are beyond the usual entitlement and tribalism.
Kind of hard to be worried about Tencent buying up a large chunk of the industry and Epic’s business practices and inner-company culture (you’ll never guess who does a lot of crunch!) when you’re currently seeing mobs form and try to destroy lives over effectively nothing while ignoring the actual worrying implications of the things they say their mad about.
Indie devs taking the deal makes perfect sense and is something they should absolutely do for short term stability because Steam is failing them massively at giving them a purchasing base they used to have. At the same time, what we may end up getting to replace Steam might be worse for both consumers and devs (depending on the type of games you make).
But yeah fuck everyone harassing the Ooblets devs.
I think they legitimately didn’t expect the news to get so blown up. I think when you’re mostly dealing with your own pre-established community, it’s probably easy to lose sight of that.
Plus, neither of the devs are really marketers/community manager people. It’s hard for the internet at large to make room for people trying to make stuff who aren’t actually proficient int the social/media skills larger studios can hire people for.
I want to agree, but the statement they give showed they had some understanding of how heated the issue was. I think they decided comedy was the best way to defuse possible controversy and that did not play when those outside their community found the announcement.
I just think it’s easier than the average person thinks to come up with something and think “yeah this sounds pretty good” when you aren’t the kind of person who usually does that and haven’t really had to do announcements like that before.
One thing that I think is clear from this mess is that Epic needs a real plan for when they buy exclusivity for a small team’s game. A 2-person studio can’t be expected to handle a gamerstorm on their own, never mind finishing an ambitious game at the same time. These gamers’ behavior isn’t in any way excusable, but at this point it’s predictable, and it’s irresponsible of Epic to provide just a brief statement of support days late. If Epic is serious about supporting the developers they work with, their PR staff need to be the ones who perform the announcement and manage the backlash. While I understand that developers may want to personally address their fans who might be disappointed, from a harm-reduction perspective this sort of announcement needs to be faceless and boring, and Epic needs to be the heel instead of letting their partners take the heat.
(In case anyone thinks this is a coded “screw Epic” post, it’s not. I think the EGS as a product is mostly fine bar some growing pains, though I have some frustrations with their messaging and strategy, and I believe small studios who take Epic’s offer of security in a very insecure business are making the most responsible choice. I hate having to make this disclaimer, but with this tense a subject it’s worth taking the time to be as clear as I can.)
Omg what the hell is wrong with people? I’m just hearing about all of this for the first time (the game and the controversy), and just read over the initial announcement post and Ben’s Medium post, and like, holy crap gamers are garbage. Under no circumstances should harassment like this be acceptable.
I wish I could think of something more substantial to say, but my heart really goes out to these devs for having to endure shit like this.
Epic is just trying to sure up exclusives in a business power move, it doesn’t actually care about helping indies. Eventually, they won’t need them to line the store so much and they’re going to be ignored yet again.
The one reason an indie dev would think twice about their deal is that Epic has shown they don’t even have the decency to properly communicate with their major partners (see the Epic sale disaster, where they didn’t inform anyone properly of how the sale to work or even asked if they wanted to opt-out).
As someone who works tangentially to PR, the original statement wasn’t great? But like of the reason 75% that the statement wasn’t great is that they clearly underestimated just how much entitled toxicity is just boiling in the game community. The gamer Identity is just so noxious. Not only helped by a terrible social media machine even from people who should know better. (Just can’t help yourself can you Jim Sterling?)
Some people said that this ooblets anger really reminded them of early stage gamergate, and that’s a frightening thought.
In reading their initial statement, even I underestimated how much toxicity would result from it. Or at least I’m shocked by the sheer volume of it. The irony of this backlash being the result of the devs both forseeing and trying to proactively get ahead of backlash is truly something.
On a different note, the amount of “harassment is not okay, but you guys kinda brought this on yourselves” comments I’m seeing (totally not accusing you of this btw!) is making me so tired
It’s okay to be frustrated and say “I disagree with this decision” but it’s soooooo not okay to go much further than that.
Personally I’m a fan of having more competition in the PC space. It’s unfortunate that it has to be exclusives, but we’ve had this in the console space for years and we’re doing just fine. Not to mention… you don’t even have to pay for another console??? Just open another program on your computer??? Maybe you lose a few QOL features. But man this response is pretty ludicrous.
Honestly, if you’re a company working in the space of video games online, you need to have a plan for when an internet mob comes for you, or the people working for you. It’s not a shock that Epic doesn’t, but this isn’t a PR situation. Gamergate has mobilized thousands of people to react with abuse and harassment when they see something they don’t like. Epic can’t be ignorant of this, especially with how loud these people are. The fact they had no plan to assist or protect the devs in this instance is so infuriating, ugh.
I guess it’s not surprising that gamer’s are just a vector of harassment now, but it sure sucks.
I do agree that I don’t care about getting another launcher and the Epic store lacking basic features they plan to add is barely a factor for me (though not taking into account local currencies is baffling).
My problem is that the PC indie scene is already in a bad place with Valve’s sloth, and Epic does not seem like a long term answer. It’s also worrying because they suggest they want to me a more selective store, which is bad if you make particularly off beat games or don’t already have your foot in the door on the scene. Visual novels in particular are going to get blown apart, no matter what kind, because they already have enough issues staying on store fronts or finding audiences in current markets outside the most indie of scenes.
Epic is a problem because they’re run just as badly as Valve - and arguably worse. There have been horrifying allegations of extreme, endless crunch in their Fortnite development branch, and they’ve built a system that puts actual peer pressure on kids to spend for skins and animations.
Valve is bad, very bad. But Epic is also extremely bad if they end up getting that same power because they’re already showing the same signs of sloth and arrogance.
For sure. Honestly 75%, as someone who has only really tangentially looked at this controversy based on avoiding all things egs for my own mental health, is much to low of a responsibility to assign to gamers Like yeah pr statements shoulllld be emotionless and calculated, but fuck gamers, fuck them. Look at the damn comments on that medium post lol. Ducking hell.
Honestly this is more incomprehensible than GG. Deep mysoginist rage I can at least wrap my mind around. I don’t GET why everyone is so mad.
I also browsed some less tolerable places cause I hate myself and I’m seeing a lot of “just because you got a few hundred slurs and death threats thrown your way means you are going to duck all rEaSoNaBle criticism” and “I just called them greedy assholes, and now everyone is saying I’m just as bad as the death threat senders, woe is meee”.
The idea that Epic needs to provide crisis management in addition when they make what are otherwise totally innocuous business deals is a severe indictment of the state of video game fandom writ large. Truly ironic that what seemed to make the anti-Epic crowd so made this time was being condescended to, considering it is entirely earned given their infantile behavior.
This is not a premise I would grant. Their entire stated strategy is to create a bulwark against Steam to influence a more fair split for all developers. They have parlayed their Fortnite largess into big retroactive pay upgrades for developers who sell Unreal assets, a $100M grant program for indie devs (in addition to their very long history of Unreal Engine grants), huge guaranteed income for numerous indie devs who sign on to their Store, and they have promised a free, cross-platform, store agnostic multiplayer backend to facilitate crossplay. The idea that they “don’t care about helping indies” just isn’t supported by the record.
And EA says that they have their free strings funding for indie studios and expect nothing in return, when they actually do it to buy good PR and offset their more famous business practices.
Remember that Epic is a business, they never do anything out of the goodness of their heart, and that includes helping indies. Some studios will benefit, but they’re either established or have access to resources a lot of smaller devs don’t, and with the more closed store, you can expect less new indie developers getting their games on the store as time goes on.
This deal with indie studios right now is a calculated PR move that makes them out to be the hero to Valve’s over-reliance on algorithms destroying the entire market. They have the money right now, so they’re throwing it for the initial step in - and that’s it.
Even their plans for payment share seem sketchy when you get to their bizarre plans when it comes to influencer play.
Epic is good for indies in the short term, but everything I’ve seen them do suggests they’re just going to be the regular hyper capitalist version of Valve instead of their incompetent anarchic-capitalist nonsense. It’s not actually an improvement, just a change in who the devil leading the market is, with changes to who benefits and who loses (especially with a more closed store front).
Why should we substitute your suspicions about their motives for the material benefit of their actions and stated goals? This is just a trumped up narrative to excuse your distrust. It has no basis in fact.