Glumberland, the indie studio behind Ooblets, signed a temporary PC exclusivity deal with Epic Games Store. The reaction of the community was overwhelmingly harsh, with the two-people studio of Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasser getting “thousands if not tens of thousands of hateful, threatening messages.”
Anticipating the negative reaction, the developers explained their thinking via a post on the game’s website.
According to the studio, the upfront money from EGS provided a minimum guarantee on sales that would match the revenue goals that the devs were hoping to hit by selling across all the stores.”
As Ben Wasser explained, “That takes a huge burden of uncertainty off of us because now we know that no matter what, the game won’t fail and we won’t be forced to move back in with our parents.”
However, Cordingley and Wasser admit in a message to the Ooblets Patreon community that they “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.”
A lot of resentment seems to come from the game’s Patreon community that stated on Discord that the developers “clearly couldn’t care less if you buy their game or support them now that they have their epic cash.”
And it just keeps going… pic.twitter.com/5q4EljAvwd
— IRIS Operative #7954 (@SammyofTocktown) August 3, 2019
Twitter users, however, have been more understanding, posting words of support for the developers.
A nice way to weed out toxic supporters; sorry about the nasty comments. A lot of people don’t understand the realities of indies, especially when it comes to paying bills. You’re doing what’s best for the game!
I’ll use this launcher just for you if I have to. Love you guys!💖
— Meishali (@MeishaliART) August 1, 2019
However, as many comments indicate, it’s not even the exclusivity deal itself that set people off, but rather the very blogpost, and specifically its tone, that the developers published to mitigate the backlash.
Going with EGS is fine, but dang, the tone of that blog post is extremely condescending and quite literally made me think less of a game that I’ve been VERY MUCH looking forward to. Not a great way to talk to your customers, I think.
— Erik Tengblad (@tengblad) August 1, 2019
I respect the hustle of taking cash to not go bankrupt. Don’t really respect being told that any opposing viewpoint “hasn’t really thought it out” and that everyone who dislikes Epic is just “angry gamers” being “entitled”. It’s really reductive and kind of insulting
— Katagara (@KenyanMCrab) August 1, 2019
Hopefully, the stress of it all will not traumatize the developers into eventually shutting down. Afterall, people are genuinely excited about Ooblets. And kudoz to the dynamic duo of Glumberland for deciding to talk about the EGS controversy. But maybe there is something all of us could learn from the situation. And it’s not that exclusivity deals have to always be hate triggers. It’s that that the attitude matters. The language matters. And while it’s unfortunate that indie devs have to be their own PR people, this tweet sounds like a good rule of thumb for situations like this one:
I don’t even hate EGS, but you approach your own audience in bad faith. You’re talking as though already expecting a negative reaction—and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course.
People really dislike feeling like you’re expecting the worst of them.
— Alphyna (@alphyna) August 3, 2019