Warning: This article contains deeply disturbing offensive material included as screenshots from the original commenters. We do this because the Developer also chose to release these images, because they don’t want us to shy away from the problem that exists – and we agree. If you do not wish to see these comments, please exit the article now.
The gaming community has once again disappointingly demonstrated its own terrible, tragic nature in a recent story of online hatred that would make even the most edgy of trash talkers feel ashamed.
Husband and wife Indie developers Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasser of Indie studio Glumberland announced last week that they would be releasing their Indie game ‘Ooblets’ exclusively on the Epic Store for a limited time, and after receiving one of the worst backlashes this journalist has ever seen, reached out yesterday with a passionate statement via Medium to address the vicious torrent of abuse that includes racism, rape, suicide, and self-harm – among others.
Epic Store exclusives have been picking up in popularity this year with some really big hitters like Metro: Exodus, Anno 1800 and Dauntless all being added to the roster of the Fortnite Dev’s store front – an attempt to dislodge the current monopoly the online sales giant Steam holds. However, it’s not just big titles, but also Indie developers that have recognised the financial benefits that a model like Epic’s can bring – providing them less risk with initial funding support, and a far more generous revenue split than Steam offer – with 88% of revenue going to the devs at Epic compared to just 70% at Steam.
In a blog post, Glumberland stated that signing with Epic was a “big decision.” “[Epic] offered us a minimum guarantee on sales that would match what we’d be wanting to earn if we were just selling Ooblets across all the stores,” Glumberland wrote. “That takes a huge burden of uncertainty off of us because now we know that no matter what, the game won’t fail.”
However, the gaming community has been consistently vocal in their outrage at Epic and the developers that utilise its offerings, as they self-righteously complain about developers trying to stay afloat in a very challenging industry because it mildly inconveniences them with an additional free game launcher.
“What happened to us is the result of people forgetting their humanity for the sake of participating in video game drama. Please have a little perspective before letting your mild annoyance lead to deeply hurting a fellow human being.” Wasser said.
Community members have been quick to jump on Wasser for the way he’s responded to his potential consumers, discarding long time supporters, and treating their genuine concerns over being able to get the game with self-assured nonchalance now that they had the Epic Money to fall back on. Wasser fully admits he dealt with the influx of new, negative community members incorrectly…
“I very foolishly engaged with these people, sometimes just answering them, sometimes making jokes, and often saying things in exasperation. It was obviously a mistake to engage in that way. I unintentionally threw a lot of fuel on the fire because my messages were screenshotted without any of that context (and sometimes specifically rearranged to change the context or outrightly fabricated) and shared back amongst where the hate mobs were mobilising.” … “To try to re-inject a little context into how you might conceptualize this situation, note that we’ve gotten literally tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of messages on every conceivable platform. We see a lot more than you ever could looking in from outside, and the worst of it usually gets deleted or is sent to us privately. Here’s a quick, very brief sampler for taste:”
(Final content warning.)
Wasser demonstrates further in his Medium article, but I think you get the picture. And this is why it’s so important to show honestly the level of hate contained in these messages. However inappropriately Glumberland acted as developers in dealing with their potential customer base, there is absolutely no room for this kind of response.
“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 states.
The situation is a little more complicated than it could be due to Glumberland’s Patreon support up to this point.
“We absolutely appreciate the support of fans and especially all our Patreon supporters, who we’ve been in communication with throughout all of this.” Wasser says. “At the same time, our detractors were using the fact that we had a Patreon as a core argument for how we were supposedly double-crossing people. We’ve been getting nonstop questions about whether patrons will still get Steam keys or not, despite none of our Patreon tiers offering the game at all. Maybe these folks don’t know what Patreon is and think it’s the same thing as Kickstarter, or maybe they’re just trying to cover their undue entitlement in the trappings of concern on behalf of patrons.”
Throughout the ordeal, Glumberland have praised Epic on their continued support, and thanked them for not leaving them to deal with this situation alone.
“And a final thanks to our friends at Epic, who are not only giving us the resources to make the game even better than we could have ever hoped, but are also showing us unwavering support.” Wasser says. “A lot of companies would’ve left us to deal with all of this on our own, but Epic has been by our side as our world has gone sideways. 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.”
Epic wasted no time at all in responding to the controversy, saying in a statement on Monday, “The announcement of Ooblets highlighted a disturbing trend which is growing and undermining healthy public discourse. 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.”
As lovers of the gaming industry this is such a horrible thing to see. There’s no place for this kind of treatment for anyone in any industry, let alone in an industry existing in a world of art, music and creativity. It’s another example of the kind of abuse that the disturbingly large, and growing number of toxic gaming community members can get away with in the name of anonymity. Yes, perhaps Glumberland didn’t handle the switch to Epic as well as they should. But they’re a husband and wife dev team working on their debut game with absolutely no experience of the industry, so have some perspective. There’s no room for this kind of cruelty in our industry, and it’s vitally important it’s stamped out whenever possible.