Epic defends Ooblets developer following abuse over Epic Games Store exclusivity

The hate towards studios who choose to make their games Epic Games Store’s exclusives continues to escalate. Developer Glumberland announced last week that it had signed an exclusivity deal with Epic for the highly awaited PC release of life sim Ooblets. Since then, the abuse against the two-person studio has been so intense that Epic had to intervene and release a statement (thanks PC Gamer).

After a preamble stressing that Epic supports “the entire game community’s right to speak freely and critically,” the statement read: “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.”

This referred to some of the numerous hateful messages and false information written and spread by those who were angered by Ooblets’ Epic Games Store move, including fake screenshots of Glumberland’s Ben Wasser saying that “gamers would be better off in gas chambers.” He obviously refuted this immediately, in a tweet asking for his followers to report people spreading that awful fake screenshot and adding: “Obviously never said that, and as a Jewish person, this one really hurt to see being spread around.” In a later tweet, he continued: “So now there’s a video going around claiming to show me in-realtime posting the fake message and then deleting it. People are believing it [because] it’s so outlandish that anyone would spend all the time to fake a video like that just to attack me, but that’s legit where we’re at.”

In a Patreon update (thanks USgamer), Wasser and Glumberland’s other half Rebecca Cordingley said they “really misjudged how angry so many people would be.” They continued: “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.”

In its statement defending the studio, Epic said it will “steadfastly support [its] partners throughout these challenges,” adding: “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. […] 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.”

The impact of Epic’s message of support remains to be seen as Glumberland joins a long list of studios getting abuse for choosing Epic Games Store, including Shenmue III developer Ys Net or Outer Wilds’ studio Mobius, among others. The reason for studios to choose Epic is a simple one though: Epic takes a smaller cut than Steam for instance, allowing for better revenue for developers. Epic also offers a minimum guarantee on sales, which Glumberland addressed at length in the blog post announcing Ooblets’ exclusivity deal last week

Glumberland further explained: “Now we can just focus on making the game without worrying about keeping the lights on. The upfront money they’re providing means we’ll be able to afford more help and resources to start ramping up production and doing some cooler things.”

And we certainly hope the studio will be able to do just that.

About Marie Dealessandri

Marie Dealessandri is MCV’s former senior staff writer. After testing the waters of the film industry in France and being a radio host and reporter in Canada, she settled for the games industry in London in 2015. She can be found (very) occasionally tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate, Hollow Knight and the Dead Cells soundtrack.

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