Since its launch, gamers have flocked to internet forums and comment sections to complain about the Epic Games Store and its tendency to purchase exclusivity rights to games. While some of these complaints have been valid, like those about the store's lack of many of the features found on its main competitor, Steam, there's a trend of people spreading misinformation and hate about it and its partners. Now it's something Epic has now officially responded to.
In a blog post on the company's website, Epic stated that they valued discourse and free speech within the games industry, even that surrounding their store, because, "When everyone shares their earnest views, the best ideas ultimately prevail." However, the post then addresses the misinformation and harassment that have been circulating about the platform among online communities. The post specifically mentions one of Epic's newest games, Ooblets, whose exclusivity announcement triggered a particularly sharp backlash due to the wording within it.
"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."
Ooblets' agreement triggered thousands of angry responses from all across the internet and manifested in an angry mob targeting the Ooblets development team, which only consists of two people. The torrent of online abuse took a heavy toll on Rebecca Cordingley, one of the team's developers, who took to Patreon to vent about the ordeal, according to GameIndustry.biz. Cordingley stated that she had been, "crying nonstop for the last two days and feeling like the world has collapsed around me."
Epic's post goes on to state that the company is looking to build, "a healthier and more competitive multi-store world for the future." It continues, "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."
Epic is taking the high road here. Regardless of one's opinion of the store, unleashing a torrent of abuse upon a two-person indie studio simply seeking financial stability is, frankly, absurd. Those that disagree with the situation are always free to vote with their wallets.
Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, has defended the company's exclusivity agreements many times, stating that the company simply want to make the 88/12 revenue split the industry standard, as opposed to Steam's 70/30 split. The exclusivity agreements have been a mixture of triple-a games like Borderlands 3 and smaller indie titles, like Ooblets.
So far, every announcement has been met with backlash from a vocal minority of gamers. This has included everything from aggressive comments, harassment, and threats of pirating exclusive games, all the way to death threats. Despite this, Epic has been unwavering in its pursuits, with more and more games being declared timed exclusives each month.