Diecast #254: Epic Trap, Steam Facts, KSP Update

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 29, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 62 comments

I know Avengers: Endgame is the big topic on the internet this week, but I hadn’t seen it when we recorded this show. I saw it Sunday, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it next week.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 Epic Tweets

Do read the entire tweet thread for context.

04:49 Steam facts!

Here is the video where I learned all these facts about Steam. It’s a business talk to game developers so it’s a bit dry, but it’s full of interesting facts. Also, sorry for calling these people “kids”. It’s just that the world looks younger to me every day.

Link (YouTube)

28:23 Kerbal Space Program: The Much-Needed Update!

38:52 Mailbag: Serving a Niche

2.5 / 10 question

I wanted to write this question last week, but didn’t know how to formulate it without sounding like a… not a nice person. I hope I don’t sound like that now. But since you’ve touched this topic on escapist, I decided to give a try.

You’ve likely heard that Sekiro is the 4th most played game on Steam ( https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-03-24-sekiro-shadow-die-twice-is-already-steams-fourth-most-played-game ). Now, with all the talk about easy mode and such, one could make an argument, that “why would they need to expand their audience”, but I’m not interested in this. I’m just wondering, what if unapologetically sticking to the niche leads to more mainstream success? I’ve heard a similar observation about wrestling (I know nothing about it), that it was most successful when it worked for a certain age groups. Like one era was very successful because it was aimed at kids, other – at teens. But because they were so good at working with this niche, other, older, age groups became more interested and ratings risen up. I wonder, if we have a similar effect here. Do you think it makes sense?

Best regards, DeadlyDark

46:04 Mailbag: HuniePop2

Hi Shamus!

10/10 question!

Are you waiting for HuniePop2 after their new teaser trailer?

Best regards, DeadlyDark

For the curious, here is my write-up on the game.

Link (YouTube)


From The Archives:

62 thoughts on “Diecast #254: Epic Trap, Steam Facts, KSP Update

  1. Joe says:

    I’m cynical. I bet that Tim Willits knows how much money Valve puts into infrastructure, and chooses to take shots at them anyway. My big problem with Epic, the idea of throwing money at a problem. There seems to be one idea behind Epic, and that’s money. Did Valve ever demand that games be exclusive to Steam? As far as I know, no. They just made it easy for games to be placed on Steam.

    The trope ‘screw the rules, I have money’ has always pissed me off. In real life even more than fiction. While there are games that I want that have gone timed Epic exclusive, I’m resisting. Next year sometime is soon enough. Hell, I may not even buy them at Steam launch.

    On the subject of niche games, I remember hearing about some JRPG series that started changing gameplay elements to better appeal to western audiences. However, it turned out that western audiences preferred the Jness, so the series went back to how they’d done it originally.

    That said, I know people will knock me for this. But I’m a crap gamer. I play games for relaxation, not the challenge. So I wish more games had god mode. Single player only, yes. Don’t worry, I’m not a multiplayer person.

    1. Droid says:

      Since you’re looking for relaxation in your gaming time, just FYI, if it’s relevant to your interests: while Anno 1800 is a timed Epic exclusive, it’s still directly purchasable through the Ubi Store. So you might not need to wait a year for all of Epic’s inmates. (also, the game’s really good; a bit slow at times, but very refined and appealing!)

      1. Mephane says:

        The Epic Games Store managed what no one thought possible: make UPlay look good in comparison.

        1. Gresman says:

          That is a bit harsh. UPlay looked amazing in comparison to the Windows Store and to Origin. ;)

  2. Droid says:

    Shamus, I still find your idea that bribing people into withholding game delivery options is somehow the same as being the only site supportive enough to get your game published at all … questionable.
    I mean, I would have been just as annoyed if Steam had kicked off by announcing that they bribed game publishers to no longer ship physical copies of games. They DID supplant physical copies as the main delivery option for my games, so in effect, their long-term impact on my games purchasing would be similar in the above scenario as it was IRL, but there’s a BIG difference in how they actually got there – by building up goodwill and making it convenient for players as well as developers and publishers to make transactions, as opposed to … the exact opposite of that.

    1. Hector says:

      Well, it’s factually incorrect.

      As far as I am aware, STEAM never had any exclusives apart from its first-party software. A large number of STEAM games are on another platform somewhere, and there no reason why all of them couldn’t be other than their publishers didn’t want to. That’s a decision made apart from STEAM, however.

      1. Steve C says:

        @Hector, I believe you misunderstood Droid. He was referring to a hypothetical. It can neither be factual incorrect nor correct.

        1. Droid says:

          Shamus, I still find your idea […] … questionable.

          Well, [the idea]’s factually incorrect.

          I think this is the part of my comment Hector was talking about.

          1. Hector says:

            Indeed. The two just straight aren’t the same at all.

            More ot the point, I don’t think this is worth Shamus fudging the reality in order to appeal to Sweeney’s supposed better nature. the Epic store is not really going after Indie titles or smaller games that might not have enough market to get of of STEAM. They’re making deals with publishers who clearly know the score and could easily get ono other platforms if they wished to do so. If anything, Epic has openly snubbed smaller games and studios and not being worth the time.

            1. Shamus says:

              This is getting really annoying.

              What reality am I supposedly fudging?

              I made it very clear, repeatedly, on both the podcast AND here in the comments, that I disagree with many of Sweeny’s positions. And yet people continue to attribute his positions to me.

              This is what the argument feels like to me:

              Me: Sweeny believes X, which is why he’s doing this.

              X: Shamus, I can’t believe you believe X!

              I’ve made it clear that I see the difference between defacto exclusives (which Steam has thousands of) and bought exclusives. I explained how, from a consequentialist point of view, it doesn’t matter HOW these exclusives came about, because that doesn’t change the market forces at work. I also made it clear that I was articulating Sweeny’s position, not mine.

              Understanding this is a necessary step in having any kind of a rational discussion about this.

              1. Hector says:

                Shamus, you are obviously upset so I will not comment further. I do not concede my position, but will, out of respect, remain silent.

    2. Shamus says:

      I’m sure Sweeny would argue that Valve doesn’t buy exclusives because they don’t NEED to. From a purely consequentialist standpoint, the outcome is the same and it doesn’t matter how the exclusive came about. The thinking goes something like: Steam exclusives makes the Valve hegemony stronger, and who cares HOW they get them, we need to stop them and this is the only way!

      Like I said on the show, I don’t really agree with his read on the situation and I don’t like his tactics, but I think it’s important to understand where someone is coming from before you build your case against them. Based on his public statements, Sweeny believes that everyone is “trapped” in Steam because customers will choose convenience over long-term self interest and developers will go wherever the customers are. If you buy into that premise, then it’s easy to rationalize Epic exclusives as an initiative to save the industry from itself.

      I have LOTS of criticisms of Sweeny’s view of the problem and his approach to solving it, but “Arg! Don’t buy exclusives I hate them!” is a rhetorical dead end with him. It wouldn’t persuade Sweeny because he’d see you as another gamer who can’t see the bigger picture and who only cares about staying on your nice comfortable platform and don’t want to think about about what it’s doing to the industry as a whole.

      1. Mephane says:

        But based on Epic’s behaviour, I don’t buy the notion that Sweeny would actually have some bigger picture and the greater good of the gaming industry in his mind, and might merely be misguided in his methods. I think he is strategically lying to deflect criticism and make themselves look less bad. His moral high ground is a fiction that I am 100% convinced even Sweeny himself does not actually believe in.

        1. Crokus Younghand says:

          His moral high ground is a fiction that I am 100% convinced even Sweeny himself does not actually believe in.

          We can’t know what anyone has got in their mind, regardless of the effects their actions might have. The road to hell is paved with bigger cuts for game developers.

      2. John says:

        I’m not sure how seriously I can or should take Epic’s word. Altruism may possibly be one of Epic’s motives. Epic’s actions, however, are completely indistinguishable from those of a purely self-interested entity. The 12% cut is an attempt to lure developers (and publishers) to their store. The exclusives are an attempt to lure players. This is classic new-firm-enters-a-market kind of stuff. A new firm enters a market and spends a lot of money in an attempt to build market share quickly. It happens all the time. Altruism has nothing to do with it.

        Sweeney may believe the things he says. I don’t know. (I can’t know.) But I also don’t think it matters. What is the point of building a case against Sweeney? What’s the point of trying to argue with him? Epic is going to do what Epic is going to do. I have zero faith that either Sweeney or Epic would ever give up on exclusives because of something they happened to read on the internet. If they do it, they’ll do it because they’ve run out of money to throw at developers or because they’ve realized that it isn’t working.

        Frankly, I think it’ll work, for certain definitions of “work” and provided that Epic hasn’t over-payed. Exclusives may not be enough for Epic to topple Valve. (I’m not convinced that Epic can topple Valve or is necessarily trying to, but that’s another matter.) They may be enough, however, for the Epic store to attain the market share it needs to be viable. I’ve said all along that the right game at the right price would be enough to get me to open an Epic account. (Assuming, of course, that Epic eventually delivers on its promised Linux support.) The right game at the right price is the reason I have a Steam account in the first place. It’s also the reason I have accounts with GOG and Humble. I’m not thrilled about the prospect of opening yet another account, but I am thrilled by the prospect of saving money.

        1. Shamus says:

          “What is the point of building a case against Sweeney?”

          What’s the point in any of the writing I do? Are we writing our words because we want to vent, or are we trying to persuade people to accept our viewpoint?

          Over the years I’ve frequently been surprised at who reads my words. I’ve have developers, artists, and even the CEO of a game company (not a big one) email me about things. It’s not often, but it happens. People like Andrew Wilson and Bobby Kotick are insulated from gaming culture and nothing I ever say will reach them, but people like Sweeny have a social media presence and engage with the public without the filter of PR agents. For the latter, I often try to write in a way that would be persuasive to the target of my criticism. Even if they don’t read my words directly, my arguments might catch on and reach them though someone higher up on the industry food chain.

          It’s always a long shot, but as I learned from my time in the dot-com madhouse, great fortunes can ride on the decisions of one or two individuals. A persuasive argument to the right person at the right time can have a huge impact.

          1. John says:

            That’s fair. I suppose that writing to persuade or as if to persuade Sweeney (or someone like him) doesn’t hurt anything. For what it’s worth, I do firmly believe that corporate managers like Sweeney are persuadable. It’s just that I think that they’re much more likely to be persuaded by business types, people with the knowledge and inside information to make a persuasive business case, than by people like me, who lack both those things. If I were trying to talk Sweeney out of buying up exclusives, I’d want to do it armed with a bunch of market research rather than my own unverifiable gut-hunches. I will never have a bunch of market research. How can I expect someone like Sweeney to listen to someone like me when I wouldn’t listen to someone like me?

          2. Steve C says:

            “great fortunes can ride on the decisions of one or two individuals”

            This idea doesn’t get enough traction. I think people forget that Valve is *not* a publicly traded company. It is not a corporate monolith like Microsoft or Nintendo. The org chart at Valve is really weird too. Last I heard it is basically Gabe Newell and employees that is it. IE if Gabe goes insane or has a heart attack or an accident or something, [i]weird shit will happen at Valve[/i]. Someone who inherits Valve might just say “I’m a billionaire. I don’t give a shit. Valve’s new business model is to build a statue.”

            Valve will likely topple not due to competitors or the industry or w/e. It will be something very human. For example my 73yr old parents are self employed. They stopped caring about their business years ago and are in the process of running it into the ground through apathy. If I had Gabe Newell’s billions of dollars, I know my primary goal would be to enjoy billions of dollars. I would flush Valve down the toilet just for the joke… because billions.

  3. kunedog says:

    IMO the basic phenomenon behind DeadlyDark’s question is that satisfying the core gamers often means that casual gamers are happy to “tag along,” but the reverse (“Don’t you guys have phones?”) is certainly NOT true.

    And that’s not just about gaming. A friend described how his favorite long-running renaissance fair had withered to death after new management took over and drove all the “hardcore” attendees away, by discouraging freeform interaction in favor of organizing every scheduled event to funnel everyone through the market again, so each vendor gets another crack at them.

    In many cases, this is so true we don’t even think about it. Can anyone imagine an easy mode that wouldn’t fundamentally diminish the experience for, say, Spacechem?

    1. Daimbert says:

      The risk that I’ve been seeing with things like these is this: a genre or series is popular amongst its hardcore fans because of certain traits; the mainstream picks up on some of the cool and unique things in it and starts looking at it or playing it; seeing this potential audience, the series tweaks things to more appeal to that audience; the hardcore fans become less attached to it and even stop playing it because of those tweaks; finally, the new casual audience also leaves because they didn’t care that much for the series and only came to it because it was cool or popular or had a slightly novel element that is now gone. So at the end of the day, it satisfies neither the original or expanded audience and dies.

      In the case of an easy mode, the risk here would be that as the casual audience becomes more important financially or as the company decides that they really want to try capturing that market more priority will be placed on features designed to appeal to the casual audience instead of to the original audience and so the game will be less interesting to the original audience, but will never be able to appeal that strongly and consistently to the casual audience without simply becoming yet another standard casual game, defeating the original unique appeal it had to all of the audiences.

      1. Geebs says:

        Of course, we are discounting the possibility* that this kerfuffle about Sekiro is all just being drummed up by Activision’s PR and has actually increased sales.

        *generating a backlash to your product from people who have an easy-to-dislike online persona is quite the thing in advertising these days

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      People assume hardcore tactics or strategy games have to incredibly hard and detailed or not played at all, but I think this is bunk. Well designed extremely complex games could have stuff like counselors who will automate the military or the supply line for you and ask questions designed to get you to think about how that system works. Civilization and some 4K games have gone in this direction. Forza and other racing games also have this, where you can get the game to take care of parts you don’t know what to do on and still enjoy some portion of the experience (example: handle all car maintenance in a reasonable way for me, I don’t really get that stuff). Really well done tooltips, tutorial videos, and etc would benefit everyone, even vets to the series. See the most recent Trials game. It’s still INCREDIBLY hard, but the game actually tries to teach people want it wants them to do, it doesn’t JUST hurt them.

      1. WarlockOfOz says:

        Case in point: Panzer General. Heroes of Might and Magic. Derivatives of both and others.
        (Though in terms of being accessible strategy games, rather than complexity plus on ramps)

    3. Ninety-Three says:

      Spacechem has an easy mode, it’s the opening levels. I’m not just being glib here, I think that a steadily increasing difficulty curve is a great and underused way to design a game, but people can’t get past “I want to play the same content only easier/harder” because it’s what 90% of the industry does.

      If a game starts easy and gets hard, you can just quit halfway through and declare that you beat the game on easy mode. I quit out of Spacechem without finishing all the levels, and that doesn’t have to be a problem, I had a great experience with what I played and probably would have been miserable bashing my head against the final levels.

    4. Liessa says:

      I think a lot of ‘niche’ games that become breakout hits do so because they’re offering something you simply can’t get anywhere else. Case in point: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, which pretty much single-handedly resurrected the real-time tactics genre. It’s still a niche game, but wildly successful by the standards of an indie game from a relatively unknown company, and suddenly people want to make those types of games again (Desperados III!)

      Another good example is Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You wouldn’t have thought it would take so long for someone to make an RPG with a purely historical setting, as opposed to fantasy, but the devs were rejected by publisher after publisher when they pitched their idea. Finally they took it to Kickstarter, and it turned out people were clamouring for a game like that; it was fully funded within 36 hours. In the early days the forums were full of people complaining about the lack of fantasy elements (“what, not even one dragon?”), but the devs stuck to their guns and the game ended up selling really well.

      So yeah, there’s definitely a risk that by trying to appeal to a wider audience, you lose the unique selling point that attracted people to your game in the first place. It may not be a viable strategy for AAA studios that need to sell 20 million copies of each game to please their investors, but for those who can’t afford to compete on that level, finding and exploiting an underserved niche market can be a very good business plan. That’s what people seem to miss when talking about how devs are ‘leaving money on the table’ by failing to include a particular feature in their games, whether that’s an easy mode or anything else.

    5. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I don’t think this is entirely true but I also think part of it is semantics, we’d really need to establish what we mean by (hard)core, casual and niche and in my experience it’s a circular discussion that rarely resolves anything so let’s not and instead I’ll focus on a different aspect. In my opinion big part of the problem is that sometimes a “niche” game does something well enough that it becomes widely known but because it’s niche it is not going to appeal to everyone. And then the usual happens when on the one hand people who do not enjoy the game try to find out how it’s “objectively bad” and on the other people who love the game accuse the first group of being “bad” at games, or “not getting it, or attempts to destroy the genre. The whole Soulslike debacle is getting derailed by focusing on difficulty and challenge levels, which to some people equates the division between “good and bad gamers”, but this applies to other genres as well: some people hate the grind in JRPGs others defend it as part of the genre and a way to “self-balance”, some hate anime romance tropes others claim they’re staples of visual romance novels, some dislike real time combat and find it chaotic and hard to control others claim turn based is tedious and unrealistic, some find horror games either hilarious or enjoy the tension and some dislike being scared and are disgusted by gore, some love mastering systems in roguelikes others hate the repetition and having to restart… then comes something like FinalFantasy/Persona/MonsterHunter/Torment/Outlast/DeadCells and the whole fight starts anew.

      And here are some “easy mode Spacechem” ideas just to show that it can be done;
      -tips of increasing specificity, first one just reminds you or points at the mechanics you need to use in a level, next one gives you a hint as to what order the mechanics could be used in, then you could get partial level solutions, such as “here’s a working splitter for this molecule” but without putting it all together and eventually a full solution;
      -increased board size especially in later puzzles as they become space sensitive;
      -giving player extra tools, for example a limited number of fields where atoms can “overlap” rather than collide;
      -“monster battles easy mode”, I know a bunch of people who were frustrated with these levels specifically as they required some optimization and or precise timing and all they wanted was to solve puzzles their own way;

  4. Daimbert says:

    I liked the original Huniepop as I like dating sims/life simulators (I just bought Cute Knight Deluxe after wanting to get it for years), but thought that it was hard to figure out what the intended audience for it was. The game has three main components: the dating sim elements, the Match-3 gameplay, and the anime sexy scenes. If you like or at least can tolerate all of those, then you might be someone who would like the game, but that’s not a common combination, it seems to me. And the elements clash with each other a bit, as the dating sim and sexy elements are too prominent if you just want to play a Match-3 game, but if you want a dating sim the Match-3 elements are too prominent, and because of that portion the dating sim elements are more shallow than they could be, which disappoints dating sim fans. So I’m not sure what the intended audience is, but it seems like it did well enough to spawn a sequel AND a business management game.

    From what I’ve seen of it so far, the art style is changing in 2 which makes it less appealing to me.

    1. Xeorm says:

      Imo the intended audience for the game is those just looking for some fun. It’s a very good example of match-3 done right, with a good amount of other content. It doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s unapologetic about it. Here’s some cute girls that are interested in your character, get em naked, and enjoy the humor. That to me is what makes it fun. Something to put a smile on my face.

      Also seems to work really well at making Shamus uncomfortable, which is fun in its own way. Good gameplay does that.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Well, aside from the making Shamus uncomfortable part, that’s exactly the issue: there are a number of people who might like one aspect of the game that will be put off by the other parts. Many people, for example, might like aspects of the game but not want the nudity, which will discourage them from buying it. The combination of elements is such that a large number of people won’t want one of them and so will choose not to buy it because it does have that element. Those who can enjoy all of them — like myself — aren’t all that common.

        Still, somehow it worked, so who am I to comment?

        1. Distec says:

          I think the inverse scenario could also apply. Huniepop might not have gotten the audience it currently enjoys if it hadn’t included its more risque elements, just from a novelty/PR perspective. I imagine this could have been many peoples first time playing Match-3.

          That might sound weird given that anime T&A gets disapproving nods in some circles, and it’s not exactly the kind of material most fans would enthusiastically suggest to their peers… But for some reason or another it never got a hate train run in its direction (from what I saw). It was received as a light guilty pleasure, not a “lewd pr0n game”.

          1. Daimbert says:

            I think its incredibly lighthearted tone helps it there. It’s pretty hard to generate a hate train run for a game that deliberately ridiculous.

  5. Crokus Younghand says:

    As someone from India, I can give an example about why measures like Steam Cards become necessary.

    India has a pretty big fake currency and money laundering problem; and in a lot of cases, it ends up getting tied up into underworld and terrorism (often working out of Pakistan). So, the authorities in India went and made it harder to do international transactions (and presumably added a lot pf tracking in intranational ones). This means that most debit cards can’t be used on any service not based of India. The ones that do work require extra steps to acquire them and are rather finicky in practice.

    While credit cards do work internationally, almost all people here are very debt averse (as they are in most developing countries) and simply don’t have credit cards.

    However, there are various payment methods that do exist. Apart from Steam Cards (which did exist, but I have never known anyone to ever buy them), there is also “Internet Banking” — essentially, every bank has a “portal” webpage, you get redirected to it when making payments, you log in with your bank credentials, authorize the payment and you get directed back to the store while your bank takes care of everything in the background.

    Any guesses which is the only store that supports Internet Banking? And of course, Steam uses a third party to provide this service which probably takes its own cut.

    And lets not even get into local pricing, local currency, etc….

    So yes, depending on how late Epic (and others like GOG) get to the party, Steam might strengthen their position in rest of the world even more than they have done that in US/Europe; simply because they are the only viable place to buy PC games over here. It’s a shame that their is no market competetion, I’d personally love to buy DRM free games from GOG but I’m not going to get a credit card for it!

    1. Droid says:

      What about prepaid cards? Around here, banks offer cards like MasterCard Prepaid which you have to charge, e.g from your bank account, before you can spend that charged credit, and nothing more than that.
      At least in my case, there was only a minor fee to physically print and send me the card (valid for 5 years), and another small fee every time I recharge credit, meaning you could recharge basically as large an amount as you want and make lots of purchases without additional fees. And there’s no risk of overspending or theft other than for the money you’ve already transferred, since the bank will decline all purchases that you do not have the money for on your card’s credit. It basically acts as a buffer between your bank account and the internet, all while being accepted everywhere where MasterCard is accepted.

      1. Crokus Younghand says:

        Some banks do allow the creation of virtual debit cards which act like that but all the restrictions of a regular debit card apply to them too (no international transactions, etc.)

      2. Kylroy says:

        I live in the US but my employer has a business associate in Panama that effectively uses this method, except with a debit card. He only puts money in the account when he has a bill to pay, and makes sure we charge ASAP after he moves the funds.

    2. evilmrhenry says:

      In the video, the cost for getting a physical Steam card into a retail store is 10%-15%. (Between printing the card, and the store wanting their cut.) That puts Epic’s 12% cut of sales into a new light; it means they literally can’t afford to create physical Epic Store Cards.

      1. evilmrhenry says:

        Ah, you actually went over that in the podcast. Serves me right for watching the video first.

    3. RFS-81 says:

      Dutch banks have a similar online payment method to what you describe and it’s been supported for a while now. I was really surprised when I first saw this. Maybe open up a wishlist entry if one doesn’t exist already. It’s a large market after all, so there’s a chance that they’d add it at some point in the future.

      Unrelatedly, I looked over their payment options out of curiosity and they also take WeChat payments in China. Which I didn’t even know was a thing, I thought it’s just a chat app. Also, it’s developed by Tencent, so it’d be bizarre if Epic Store doesn’t accept this as payment at some point.

      1. John says:

        Chinese chat apps do everything.

  6. DangerNorm says:

    When people mention “features” that Steam has that Epic Games doesn’t, my usually reaction is to say “Good! That has nothing to do with being a place that I can put money into and get games out of.” Obviously, some people disagree with me, but this ties into another practice of Steam that promotes vendor lock-in, which is the SteamWorks API (I believe Shamus has experience with this from Good Robot?), which allows developers to use Steam as their infrastructure for various things, and to tie into various Steam “features”. (Eg, it’s what you’d use to have achievements show up in Steam.) The problem is that developers then actually use it, which makes any parts of their games that uses it depend on Steam, requiring additional work to port it to other stores on the same platform, or, as is often the case, to just not port them to other stores.

    To use an example from a game I’ve played yesterday, Spelunky on GoG doesn’t have daily challenges, because the PC version uses SteamWorks to provide that functionality, and when they released to GoG they just left that out.

  7. Decius says:

    Don’t look at Epic Games’ exclusive deals as ‘paying a studio for lost sales’.

    Look at their exclusive as ‘Buying the entire game outright’.

    Investors in Phoenix Point are expecting a 191% return on their investment in May, and a higher payment per sale. But even if fewer sales are made, Epic (and presales) paid for over twice the entire cost of development.

  8. tmtvl says:

    Anyone notice nobody’s talking about the Discord game store? Bad press better than no press?

    1. Shamus says:

      I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. IIRC, they copied Epic and made the store cut really low.

      I should check on it. It would provide an interesting data point. I wish we could see what sales are like on Discord.

      If Discord is struggling and has barely any titles and few sales, then it indicates that Sweeny’s assumption is correct and running a good store with a fair cut isn’t enough to break the Steam hegemony.

      On the other hand if Discord has solid sales and lots of available games, then it proves Sweeny is wrong. Not only is he frustrating people for no benefit, but he’s wasting millions of company dollars buying exclusives they don’t need rather than just spending the money improving the platform.

      1. Geebs says:

        Discord’s store got weird while you weren’t looking.

        1. RFS-81 says:

          After we upsorbed the Discord Game Store into your computer chat program, we received a lot of feedback and learnings about what players and developers really want. We’ve learned so much that we’re evolving in a big big way. Super glue yourself in because we’re shakin’ this timeline up.

          I got this far in before I couldn’t take it anymore. Could you summarize?

          1. Geebs says:

            I think that they removed their entire store page and instead have developers selling through their own channel. This seems like the worst solution for discoverability yet invented.

            There are a total of about ten complaints on a google search, which suggests that basically nobody is using Discord to buy games.

            1. Sleeping Dragon says:

              I don’t use Discord a lot even for chatting, as I tend to forget to even launch it when at the PC (and am strongly in favour of minimising the number of programs that launch automatically), but I do remember seeing some game adevertisement a couple times and then… it changed somehow and is giving me this weird page with information on updates and promotions on the same couple games I’m totally not interested in? I’ll have to check it when I’m back home since it’s possible it was just a fluke of some kind.

            2. MadTinkerer says:

              I guess it’s nice that they’re trying to differentiate themselves from the competition?

              Discord was one of the platforms I was hoping to launch my product on. But after reading that article, I’m beginning to suspect that “Chief Robot Hamster” isn’t a cute self-nickname, but the company is literally being run by cybernetically enhanced hamsters who are desperate to beat the Turing Test.

              “Hey fellow humans! According to that one Red Dwarf episode, gazpatcho soup is something humans like. But we sell games. ‘Gamespatcho’? Does ‘gamespatcho’ sound like something we humans would say? Gamespatcho!”

              I know Business Stuff is easily made boring, and you certainly want to avoid that if you are trying to turn fans and consumers into business partners, but that article is definitely trying too hard to be entertaining.

      2. Kylroy says:

        Nice of Discord to run the control group, eh?

        Discord also had the advantage of being already present on a lot of people’s desktops as a voice chat server, thus bypassing the “not another icon!” thing that seems to be a lot of people’s issue with Steam alternatives. I’d be interested in knowing the market reach of Discord compared to Fortnight.

      3. galacticplumber says:

        The general response is basically on the order of: Why is my voice chat widget trying to advertise not being a voice chat widget? Like…. I grabbed discord because it was the least awful free voice/video chat. Then it just kinda threw up some slower to load splash screens I didn’t ask for.

        To be fair I rarely use the steam store or even check it. I have youtube channels to alert new interesting releases, and have effectively bypassed Steam’s bad discoverability.

        With the only weakness destroyed I don’t have to further fragment my program use.

        It WILL be nice to have a non-evil backup plan if people are right that Steam will implode if ever controlling power switches hands for any reason.

  9. Elzair says:

    Hands up. Who is eagerly awaiting MrBTongue’s hot take on Game of Thrones s08e03?

    1. eaglewingz says:

      Ooh, ooh, me!
      The couple of mainstream reviews I read sounded almost like Bob could have written them. I can’t wait for the real thing.

  10. Dreadjaws says:

    I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again: most people don’t have problems with the idea of exclusives, but with the way they’re being implemented and forced by Epic. Surely Tweeney gets attached to the idea that people simply don’t like exclusives as a way to deflect every genuine complaint people have against the EGS (sort of how the Ghostbusters 2016 kept calling “sexism!” whenever any sort of complaint was directed against the film).

    The thing is, Tweeney’s tweet is pure BS. I mean, yes, I’m sure they’d stop it with the exclusives, but not out of choice. If Steam had the same revenue plan they do then no one would have any reason to use the EGS. Developers would see no benefit on exclusive deals, since Steam would offer the same benefits but still hold a much larger userbase. And with no exclusive games customers had no reason to use a vastly inferior platform.

    Maybe Tweeney is, like you say, simply a good person trying to save the industry. If that’s the case he’s being very good at hiding it, because the impression I get from him is that he’s simply trying to move Steam’s “monopoly” in his direction and not even considering how the entire system works. He gleefully ignores everything else Steam does: how much bigger the service is, the infrastructure, the whole Steam cards deal you mention (these have been around for years, and they’re very popular), the fact that Steam allows developers to sell keys anywhere they want (which doesn’t really net them that 30% cut), etc.

    1. baud says:

      Developers would see no benefit on exclusive deals

      I disagree with that, devs (or more likely publishers who are in for the money) would still take such a deal if the money offered was good enough: I remember reading that, for example, Phoenix Point got at least ~1M$, which is, for a company of their size, a lot. And you can see other example in the console wars, with one of the Tomb Raider being an exclusive on Xbox.

  11. Distec says:

    Regarding the Epic store, I saw a novel Reddit post that I thought cut through a lot of the rationalizations to a very central issue:

    “You guys are missing the point. People aren’t upset because the Epic Launcher is “incomplete”. People are upset because they don’t like being told what to do, and being forced to buy on a specific platform very much feels like somebody trying to tell me what to do. Purchasing during the exclusive period just feels like you’re actively and conciously buying into a “marketing trick” or something. It just feels bad, like you’re giving in to something that you know is being done to you and the people that orchestrated it think you’re dumb for doing it.”

    Please note that I don’t view this as some slam-dunk argument against Epic. It’s guided more by instinct than reason, admittedly. But it is what it is, and it doesn’t feel like a wrong take to me. F2P mobile titles may all be some tier of garbage, but I’ll admit that my retention rate is most certainly affected if I feel the developer is extending the velvet glove versus the bludgeoning tool in order to get me to open my wallet. The latter prompts me to nope the the fuck out immediately.

    Or consider a game that gates achievements or game progress by having you perform some ludicrous or arbitary task *but with a somebody on your Clan or your Friends list!*. Like, I’m happy to do X task on my own, and it would be cool to have a friend present as well. But to be completely blunt: what in the fuck do you care if I’m playing with friends or not? Why exactly are you trying to push me into these things for seemingly arbitrary reasons? I have no interest in joining Clan Rando just to progress if’s not really necessary 90% of the rest of the game, nor do I have a consistent pool of friends to call on for any given multiplayer game. Apologists for this kind of thing (aka somebody who would call me an antisocial whinger) would tell me to suck it up because it’s super easy to just Friend a few people for an hour and then remove them when I’m done with them. But then what’s the point of this barrier if I’m just going to metagame around it? I’m likely too cynical for my own good, but I never feel these are sincere attempts to benefit my experience. I’m betting somebody in their cubical figured this would be a good way to grow their “social network” features and pump up some usage statistics; an attempt to bribe me into a system I neither want or benefit from, but is probably good for them. And hey, that’s fair for them to do. I’m not entitled to anything. But I can’t unsee the rather transparent attempt to “use” me this way.

    I don’t feel entitled to anything from anybody, but I’m also not going to second-guess my gut here either. Epic is flexing in a way that I know will just suck any enthusiasm I might potentially have interacting with their storefront. It’s sort of like trying to play the Mass Effect series again after the third entry, where the final notes the series just retroactively sours so much of what came before it. I should be able to appreciate Mass Effect 1 as a standalone title – and I still do intellectually – but I can’t actually play it again because it’s emotionally depressing.

    Sweeney makes a number of sound (or at least plausible arguments) for Epic’s current strategy. Although he still irritates me, I kind of respect his chutzpah and commitment to this course. Good luck to them. But I’ve been effectively repelled and don’t see any way of being reeled in. When people say “Are you really going to be put off by one additional slightly annoying launcher on your desktop?”, I reply ABSOLUTELY. It might just be annoying, but it’s an annoyance I fortunately don’t have to indulge! This is me hashtag-dealingwithit.

    I don’t feel anybody should have to rationalize any further than that. I’m not an ideologue on this issue. Maybe Sweeney is like Thanos and is doing what MUST BE DONE, But he also pissed me off and I’d rather not do business with you him since – dang – that’s just how I feel. No hard feelings. Sort of?

    1. Jason says:

      Or consider a game that gates achievements or game progress by having you perform some ludicrous or arbitary task *but with a somebody on your Clan or your Friends list!*.

      This right here bugs me. I wanted to try out the Star Trek Fleet Command mobile game. I had barely started the tutorial when I was forced to join an alliance and couldn’t do anything else. I didn’t even know if I liked the game or what I was even doing before it was forcing me to team up with other players. Nope. Not for me. Uninstall.

  12. tomato says:

    Lesbian gamers, an overlooked demographic.

    1. MadTinkerer says:

      Not if you can read Japanese.

      Or so I’ve heard.

  13. Dragmire says:

    Would the opposite of a nude mod be a prude mod?

    1. Dragmire says:

      Damnit, I keep forgetting that chrome saved a misspelling of my email so my proper profile pic isn’t there!

    2. MadTinkerer says:

      SFW mods / built in modes are a thing for some adult games.

  14. Narkis says:


    Tim Sweeney absolutely knows that Valve cannot match his offer. He also has no intention to compete with Steam cards in the Asian market. You really should stop giving him the benefit of the doubt one of these days. He’s no misguided engineer, misunderstanding the market and making innocent mistakes. He’s what an actually competent EA executive looks like.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.