A game about dancing mushroom monsters has led to death threats and more.
Epic has pledged to “steadfastly support” developers and other partners with exclusivity rights on its Epic Games Store. The company released a statement on “Misinformation and Abuse” following the latest developer backlash over exclusivity rights with Epic Games Store.
Hey everyone, we’ve taken some time to compile our thoughts on what’s been going on the last few days. You can read them here: https://t.co/vmjOCybOfW [broad content warning] pic.twitter.com/OtQneNJUhx— Ooblets (@ooblets) August 6, 2019
Ooblets has been in development for about three years, since being crowdfunded by 1,159 backers. It’s a surreal looking game where, from what I can tell from the trailer, you run around with a bunch of fungal monsters close behind you, growing plants, giving people cakes, and sending your weird, sentient mushroom people into dance battles. Rebecca and Ben, the creators of Ooblets, announced an exclusivity deal with Epic at the end of July, which has since led to an influx of threats of violence, rape, along with racial and homophobic slurs.
It’s these extreme messages that’s forced Epic to take a stance on the issue, saying that the abuse both Rebecca and Ben suffered demonstrated a minority of people that were “undermining healthy discourse.”
Epic’s response is a brief one, saying that a competitive space is a good thing, before thanking everyone who continues to “advocate for healthy, truthful discussion about the games business and stand up to all manners of abuse.” The statement was curiously light on how it would “continue” to support its partners though and the company doesn’t have much of a record for doing so.
Since the Epic Games Store launched early this year, we’ve seen a string of AAA and indie games announce timed exclusivity deals with Epic against a growing sense of aggression — first to the store and increasingly towards developers and publishers.
Ubisoft announced its new partnership with Epic in early January, followed by Deep Silver’s announcement of timed exclusivity later that same month. The news didn’t go down well with fans of either series, but as time’s gone on there’s been a growing animosity. Close to the Sun’s Epic exclusivity was met with murmurs of greed and jokes of pirating the game, and a handful of online petitions for the digital store have even pooped up throughout the year, with one petition stating that the exclusivity deals makes “gamers feel like they are being forced to use Epic Games rather than another platform.”
Exactly how Epic plans to support devs in a meaningful way remains to be seen. Refunds for pre-orders were sent to players following the backlash of Shenmue 3’s Epic exclusivity deal, but the kind of abuse that Rebecca and Ben have faced in the last few days will require a wholly different approach from Epic.
Ooblets doesn’t have a specific release date but its being touted for a release this year.