A married couple making an indie game received violent, racist threats after agreeing to an exclusivity deal with the creator of 'Fortnite'
- The developers of the indie game "Ooblets" have received tens of thousands of threats including racist abuse after signing an exclusive deal with Epic Games, the creators of "Fortnite."
- Epic is offering developers a better revenue-sharing deal than competing video game platforms, but some skeptical gamers are doing everything they can to avoid the new platform.
- "Ooblets" previously relied on monthly donations from patrons, but the Epic deal will help guarantee that the creators meet their minimum sales goal.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasser are a married couple creating a game called "Ooblets," a slice-of-life adventure game meant for casual play.
Until the couple signed an exclusive deal with Epic Games, the "Ooblets" development budget relied on monthly donations from patrons via the website Patreon. The Ooblets Patreon currently has 1,175 patrons donating between $1 and $100 per month.
When they announced their deal with the Epic Games Store, Cordingley and Wasser said Epic would guarantee their minimum sales goal, ensuring that the game wouldn't be a financial failure upon release. The game doesn't have a set release date yet, but it will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store on PC, and an Xbox release will follow.
However, the news that "Ooblets" would be exclusive to the Epic Games Store was met with a shocking wave of complaints and violent threats.
"Swallow bleach, who seeks patreon support than [sic] goes to epic," a user on Twitter told the creators. "Have fun with the 3 people that will play this abomination of a game."
A casual blog post meant for fans and patrons was shared on the Ooblets website on Aug. 1, explaining the developer's financial reasoning for signing with Epic. However, the post quickly sparked a storm of internet outrage.
Though Wasser and Cordingley had exchanged messages with fans of "Ooblets" for years, they said they were "totally unprepared" for the level of vitriol they received from the broader gaming community online. The original blog post from "Ooblets" creators jokingly suggested that upset gamers aim their frustrations at climate change or the last season of "Game of Thrones" instead, using a bit of humor Wasser said was characteristic for their communications thus far.
"I very naively thought what we were saying might get them to see the whole [Epic Game Store] debate as lightheartedly as we did," Wasser wrote in a post on Medium. "By engaging directly with that crowd, I mistakenly thought I could have some impact on their opinions and emotions and defuse the situation with some lighthearted criticism of the main things that drove them to attack people. You can see how well that went. It was a stupid miscalculation on my part."
The couple say they have now received tens of thousands of messages across Twitter, Reddit, and Discord, including anti-Semitic and racist remarks threatening violence against both Cordingley and Wasser. A handful of the offensive remarks are documented in the Medium post, but most are too profane to reprint.
"When this is all said and done, and your game and career are in shambles, I hope your wife leaves you. Based on her posts though, you guys are a perfect pair of ****heads," a Reddit user wrote.
The "Ooblets'" exclusive deal with the Epic Games Store has become the latest proxy battle in an online campaign to stop game developers from embracing Epic.
The sudden rise of the Epic Games Store creates controversy
The Epic Game Store is a relatively new platform made by the creators of "Fortnite." Epic Games is offering developers a greater revenue share than competing digital platforms, including Steam, the most popular platform for PC gaming. Steam, the PlayStation Network, and the Xbox Marketplace all take a 30% cut of every sale made in their store, while Epic takes just 12%. Furthermore, games that license Epic's Unreal Engine receive an additional 5% of gross revenue, giving them a 93% cut, compared to a 70% cut when selling on Steam.
Epic's favorable revenue-sharing model has encouraged multiple developers to make their games exclusive to the Epic Games Store, and Epic has also secured a handful of major titles as exclusives by offering financial support.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images
However, some consumers have been skeptical of Epic's digital storefront and its overall lack of features when compared to Steam. The Epic Game Store has been live for less than a year, while Steam has spent more than 15 years gradually introducing new features and improvements like video recording, cloud saving, and group chats to the platform.
Regardless, these upset gamers have turned to abusive threats and bullying to try and force developers to cower to their demands. The simple alternative would be to not buy games from the Epic Games Store and use their power as consumers, but instead they are trying to force the video game creators to shift their principles and make decisions that aren't in their best interest financially.
"I'd challenge anyone to be on the receiving end of this for a few minutes/hours/days to not come to the conclusion that a huge segment of the broader gaming community is toxic," Wasser wrote in his statement on Medium. "People are upset that I've said that word. Now imagine someone getting offended by me using the word 'toxic' in the context of what this group has been saying and doing to us."
He added, "I'm not a PR company representing some megacorp, just a dude talking to people like a human."
Wasser said that Epic has been supportive throughout the situation.
"The fact that they care so much about a team and game as small as us proves to us that we made the right call in working with them, and we couldn't be more thankful," he said.
"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 said in a blog post titled "Epic's Statement on Misinformation & Abuse."
"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," the company continued. "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."
- Impact of AI on Customer Service
- Bengaluru cafe blast: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah to chair meeting with top police officials today
- India retains full policy space for benefit of farmers, fishermen at WTO: Goyal
- Sensex, Nifty settle at new closing high levels in first part of special live trading session
- Passive Income Streams