Diecast #269: Crazy News Week, Social Media

By Shamus Posted Monday Aug 12, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 146 comments

By sheer accident, I’ve brought Heather back to the show almost exactly a year since the last time. This one is a little more personal than most shows and you even get a little glimpse at how our weird family works.



Hosts: Heather, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.


01:07 Issac’s New Graphics Card

Thanks to everyone who offered advice. We managed to get Issac’s machine in gaming shape without breaking the bank or stressing out.

05:57 ESA Data “Breach”

If you make no effort to secure something, is it still a “breach” when it falls into the wrong hands?

During the show Heather said there was “no reason” for the ESA to collect home addresses. After the show she came up with an alternate explanation: The home addresses are there so publishers can send journalists free crap.

Still, seems like this sort of information ought to be compartmentalized and not stored in a single PDF where every exhibitor gets automatic access to every journalist.

15:02 Ooblets Controversy

Here is the announcement, and here is one of many reactions:


Link (YouTube)

32:37 SupMatto Controversy

This story is too strange to be believed. Even after seeing it referenced on multiple sources, I’m still having trouble believing it. This is so cartoonishly over the top that it ruins my suspension of disbelief.

And it’s gotten worse since we recorded this!

And this isn’t the first time they’ve done it!

39:01 Heather Likes Reddit

44:47 Twitter’s delete system

It works!

Now I need to come up with another service for people to reach me on, because nobody wants to click on the blog.

52:08 Tumblr

Here is a slightly-related video:


Link (YouTube)

 


From The Archives:
 

146 thoughts on “Diecast #269: Crazy News Week, Social Media

  1. Paul Spooner says:

    On availability of PDF backups. My website isn’t remotely popular, but a couple data-vacuuming sites download every PDF on the site every month. I don’t know if they are making the copies available, or just indexing them for search, or what. Point is, there’s definitely automated PDF indexing happening, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the list was made available on an indexing site.

  2. kunedog says:

    Thank you for crediting Narwitz with the scoop. Some lacked even that integrity, and IMO otherwise we never would have known about what the ESA did.

  3. kunedog says:

    Google “Ooblets” and you will see headline after headline (PC Gamer, Kotaku, Eurogamer, etc.) pushing the “gamers harrass devs” narrative we’ve seen so many times. Part of the reason Epic and the devs did this is because they knew they could count on the support of games journalists if they trashed gamers (and I don’t think they were joking).

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      You’re making it sound really sinister. Realistically, 99.5% of the reason the Ooblets dev wrote the post they did is because they don’t understand how internet backlash works. It really looks like they thought “Well, we’ll just explain our point of view and then these thousands of aggressive fans will realize that the strong opinions that they hold and have spent months arguing about online are wrong and thank us for being so honest about our decision, right?”

      As an aside, I do think that gamers as a demographics have a tendency to be hyperfixated on the decisions of the industry the way you’d expect a conspiracy buff to be hyperfixated on the decisions of the US government (that is, to an unhealthy degree), and to act very possessively towards upcoming games before they’ve even played them.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        …and thank us for being so honest about our decision…

        I see this kind of defense all the time, and I can’t agree with it. No one would have been bothered if they actually had been honest (I mean, generally speaking, of course someone would have been bothered). If all they had done was say “Hey, guys, we really need the money. We can’t finish this game without it and put food on the table”, that would have been honest and understandable, and people would be alright with it.

        But not only no one does that (every single developer that takes Epic’s deal take the chance to prop them up at the best thing that happened to PC gaming or attack Steam), but they went the extra mile and insulted the consumers.

        Now, let’s say after the backlash they had realized they went too far and asked for forgiveness. “Sorry, guys, we weren’t thinking. We bought into bad press about gamers and we shouldn’t have. We understand people have legitimate reasons to be upset about Epic and all we did was ignore them. We understand if you’re not interested in our game anymore, but please understand that we didn’t mean to insult you. We just made a bad judgement call and we are genuinely sorry about it.” Again, understandable and calming. People would be fine with it.

        But they didn’t do that. They double down and went even further. When users calmly asked them things like “What about those of us who can’t use the Epic store because it’s not available in our country?” they went all like “No one owes you the game.” Then, of course, when backers said they were unhappy with their decision the response was pretty much “We have Epic’s money now, we don’t care.”. And then after the enormous backlash got even bigger they started pretending that every complaint against them was a death threat and an insult, and that no one had legitimate arguments.

        No, these guys deserve no forgiveness. It’s way past the point where they can argue that they made a mistake.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          If all they had done was say “Hey, guys, we really need the money. We can’t finish this game without it and put food on the table”, that would have been honest and understandable, and people would be alright with it.

          But not only no one does that

          Ooblets did that, while acknowledging that EGS has less features and not doing any Epic cheerleading! Did you even read the post?

          “Because Epic doesn’t yet have the same market share as their competitors, they 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. 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 (but we do love and appreciate you, parents!).

          Now we can just focus on making the game without worrying about keeping the lights on. The upfront money they’re providing means we’ll be able to afford more help and resources to start ramping up production and doing some cooler things.”

          they went the extra mile and insulted the consumers.

          How? Their post lacks the “Customer is always right” tone that people are used to, but I read it over three times and the closest I can come to an insult is the joke implying that everyone in the audience already plays Fortnite. Quote me the part of their announcement where the insulting happens.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            Quote me the part of their announcement where the insulting happens.

            From the announcement:

            We’re aware of the backlash that’s been hitting games that sign with Epic. I don’t expect much of our uniquely-lovely community to fit into this weird anti-Epic contingent,

            This is a pretty explicit declaration that the only people who could possibly object to this decision are some sort of irrational extremists.

            I get the appeal of wanting to seek out things to get angry about.

            So let’s remember that this is all low-stakes video game stuff we’re dealing with here. Nothing to get worked up about.

            See, you’re not upset because you disagree with Epic exclusives on the merits. You’re just a hater looking for something to be mad about.

            This would be different if there were literally any part of the post that acknowledged that there might be literally any legitimate reason not to want a game to be Epic-exclusive, but it does the opposite. This attitude continues in the Medium article linked elsewhere in these comments, where the developer rightly dismisses outright harassment but without even paying lip service to the idea that someone somewhere has legitimate reasons to be upset with this turn of events.

            EDIT TO ADD: I know that’s like, 3 sentences out of a really long post. It’s really easy to mess something like this up, for that exact reason.

            1. Ninety-Three says:

              This is a pretty explicit declaration that the only people who could possibly object to this decision are some sort of irrational extremists.

              No, it’s a pretty explicit declaration that the people who object to this decision are weird. The thing you describe would look something like “I don’t expect much of our uniquely-lovely community to be irrational extremists”. This is how the word “explicit” works.

              I went into today only vaguely aware of an Ooblets controversy and totally prepared to believe the dev was trolling for publicity, but man, even Shamus’ uncommonly civil comments section is unintentionally selling me on the “entitled gamer rage-babies” angle, and I usually hate that narrative. This, for instance, looks like deliberately misusing a word in order to heap negativity on your enemy, which is behaviour I associate with irrational extremists.

              This would be different if there were literally any part of the post that acknowledged that there might be literally any legitimate reason not to want a game to be Epic-exclusive, but it does the opposite.

              And this is just a rage-induced failure of reading comprehension, leading to a false claim. The phrase “regarding the features that are still missing” looks an awful lot like an acknowledgement of a reason to not want a game to be Epic-exclusive.

              1. DHW says:

                >No, it’s a pretty explicit declaration that the people who object to this decision are weird.

                And that’s not supposed to be bothersome? If you’re upset about something, and the person in a position to do something about it dismisses you as a weirdo for having any complaints, you’re not going to become less upset.

          2. Shamus says:

            I covered this in the show, but I know not everyone listens to the show. Chad Miller covered a couple of the inflammatory lines above. I’d also add:

            “You’ll have to install EGS if you wanna buy Ooblets on PC. I know that’s asking a lot but I believe in you and your ability to download a free thing and create a user account (if you haven’t already done so to play Fortnite which I KNOW YOU HAVE).”

            Emphasis mine. The example I gave on the show: Imagine I changed this blog to have a max-volume pop-over auto-play ad for some skeevy thing. People would be mad. Imagine if I said, “I know it’s asking a lot, but I believe in you and your ability to hit the close button on advertisements for things you don’t want.” This trivializes legitimate concerns and implies the audience is irrational and angry about nothing. The problems with Epic are a lot bigger than “Boo hoo I don’t want to download a free thing.”

            * It’s patronizing.
            * It presents the argument as if the Devs have no understanding of the real issues.
            * It attempts to re-frame the debate around the act of downloading, thus cutting out all the other gripes with EGS.

            Obviously they don’t deserve hate mail for being annoying, passive-aggressive, and rude. The problem with the internet is that you slap it once and it punches you back 1,000 times. PR is HARD, and it’s easy to misjudge things. But their opening statement was indeed snarky and insulting in a bunch of petty ways.

            1. Mistwraithe says:

              Hmmm. And yet I think Ooblets were fundamentally correct in their post, I read the post and struggled to imagine how people could take major offense at it. This decision is NOT a big thing, it is just a game. Installing another games platform is fairly easily, and more importantly, by my understanding, no one is forcing people to buy this game.

              I can understand a backlash when a game is kickstarted with a promise that it will be on Steam and then the developers switch to an Epic exclusive, that is dishonest and the kickstarters should be offered refunds. However, as far as I can tell, Ooblets doesn’t have any such obligation to make the game available on Steam and I struggle to comprehend the backlash against them choosing to go with Epic. (Correction, apparently some people were funding on Patreon. That’s trickier, those people potentially do have a good reason to be annoyed and want a refund).

              The people complaining certainly have a right to not buy the game, one would expect them to not buy it. The TV I wanted to buy a few years ago was exclusive in New Zealand to just one chain of stores, a chain I have a particularly poor opinion of. It was my choice whether to put aside my disdain and buy it anyway (which I did) or to boycott it due to my internal principles.

              But the hate on offer here is unreal (ha! pun unexpected!). And I don’t just mean the extreme hate mail they apparently received, you can see an unreasonably high level of aggression directed their way just from reading the comments on this blog – which makes me shudder to imagine how bad is in less civilised parts of the internet.

              1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                The thing about the Patreon is that there’s no reward tier for getting a copy of the game. So all money collected there was to aid in the development of the game, with the rewards being access to a Discord or more behind the scenes info. The fact that, for example, a patron may not have the ability to use Epic store in their country doesn’t breach any promises made. It was ALWAYS a donation to aid development, not a hand shake that they’d hook you up with the game later.

          3. Ivan says:

            Your quote you are using for them ‘acknowledging that EGS has less features and not doing any Epic cheerleading’ is all about Epic’s market share, and some aspects of the deal Epic offered them. Nothing to do with store features. Did you use the wrong quote?

        2. Olivier FAURE says:

          No one would have been bothered if they actually had been honest

          I was being a little sarcastic. More seriously, I’d say they were emotionally honest, but intellectually dishonest.

          They double down and went even further. When users calmly asked them things like “What about those of us who can’t use the Epic store because it’s not available in our country?” they went all like “No one owes you the game.”

          I think that one was a photo montage?

          Now, let’s say after the backlash they had realized they went too far and asked for forgiveness. “Sorry, guys, we weren’t thinking. We bought into bad press about gamers and we shouldn’t have. We understand people have legitimate reasons to be upset about Epic and all we did was ignore them. We understand if you’re not interested in our game anymore, but please understand that we didn’t mean to insult you. We just made a bad judgement call and we are genuinely sorry about it.” Again, understandable and calming. People would be fine with it.

          Okay, this? This kind of thinking, to me, is entitlement.

          The Ooblets team is a group of people making a game and posting about it. They’re not politicians, they didn’t say that all french people should be sterilized, and they didn’t murder anyone.

          The only people who can claim to be defrauded are their patreon backers. They have a right to be angry, they have a right to say they were cheated, they have a right to ask for a refund (though it doubt it would be feasible). I didn’t see much to indicate that demographic was super upset, but maybe I’m wrong.

          Everyone else has absolutely zero right to demand that the Ooblets developers do or say anything, zero right to get angry on behalf of the patreon backers, and honestly, the fact that so many people act like the devs should try to appease them reeks of angry-mob-think to me.

          Now, pragmatically, I absolutely agree that the dev made the worst possible decisions in that context. It would have been 100% in their self interest for them to do what you said.

          But morally, I have a lot of sympathy for them. They were just two people working on a small-scale project, minding their own business, until they stepped on a political landmine and suddenly tens of thousands of people who were never going to buy the game started demanding that they apologize for a message that wasn’t addressed to them.

          Seriously, this is the future of the internet, and it’s terrifying. Big Brother was us all along.

          1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

            Really? Two devs who acted like ass to their community and got widely mocked in return is the direct equivalent of 1984’s spirit crushing totalitarian Big Brother? Really?

            1. Olivier FAURE says:

              Fine, that was hyperbolic.

              Still, I like the way Shamus put it above:

              Obviously they don’t deserve hate mail for being annoying, passive-aggressive, and rude. The problem with the internet is that you slap it once and it punches you back 1,000 times. PR is HARD, and it’s easy to misjudge things. But their opening statement was indeed snarky and insulting in a bunch of petty ways.

          2. Dreadjaws says:

            Entitlement? How? Because we ask them to be civil? Because we ask them to be honest? We’re not asking for them to give us a free game or to get away from the internet. Sure, if they had referred exclusively to her patrons you might have a point, but if they wanted to do that they would have made a Patreon-exclusive post. They instead made one for everyone to see and as such it’s clear that their message was directed to the entire gaming community.

            So yeah, we have all the right to complain.

            1. Mistwraithe says:

              I guess the disagreement is over their post. I didn’t regard it as either uncivil or dishonest. Some people have clearly taken it as very much so.

            2. shoeboxjeddy says:

              You have the “right” to complain that some random blog used rude language, sure. And they equally have the right to accurately point out that… who the hell are all these people? They aren’t there to be a punching bag for this stupid gamer fight between Steam and Epic.

          3. Dreadjaws says:

            I think that one was a photo montage?

            Nope, the photo montage was the one of them saying racist things. This one was the real deal. They said that sort of thing more than once and I’m pretty sure you can still see those messages.

          4. Moridin says:

            It’s not as if they stepped on the mine by accident. They walked into the middle of the minefield and started jumping up and down.

            Sure, they don’t deserve all the harassment and death threats, but they’re really doing their best to get to that point

            1. Thomas says:

              I think if any of us were in their position we wouldn’t think it was so obvious.

              Remember Shamus walked into sexual harassment gate or whatever blindly with his webcomic. As a reader, that seems like a blatantly obvious thing to have missed, but the whole point about missing things is you never thought about it going wrong in the first place.

              People underestimate sensitive topics all the time, but from the outside perspective people tend to imagine they wouldn’t have missed that.

              1. galacticplumber says:

                If I was making a wide scale business deal and had just received an Epic pile of cash in exchange for exclusivity, and I had a plan to directly address the community interested in my product about a move I openly acknowledge is generally thorny….

                Hire a PR rep. Doesn’t even have to an expensive PR rep. Just a proof reader with basic training in the field.

                1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                  This is kind of like advising a two person operation to hire a marketing AND HR department. They don’t even have a corporate structure and they need a PR rep? That’s pretty ridiculous. Maybe gamers should chill their shit out instead. Imagine this scenario:

                  Random dev puts out a blog post that sounds pretty ignorant or rude. People who’ve never heard of their game… ignore it. Because they’ve never heard of it until today, who gives a crap? They don’t feel COMPELLED to “RESPOND” and punish the temerity of… whoever this person is. HOW DARE… this game dev I’ve never heard of to… say words?

                  1. galacticplumber says:

                    It’s not about what your corporate structure is. It’s about what you intend to do, and the necessary steps to doing that without making things worse.

                    If you fully acknowledge that you’re doing something that generally causes backlash, and so much so you feel the need to address your community, you need a PR rep. At ABSOLUTE MINIMUM a proofreader to catch obvious mistakes.

                    Because if you anger the internet, the internet will not CARE about you, your problems, or fairness beyond the sense that sleights inflicted shall be paid in full from each individual offended person. Even people who were never involved, and don’t get involved on forums you see will use you as the butt of jokes for weeks simply because your self-inflicted misery is amusing.

                    This is the information age. All public fuckups will be preserved, and shown to all. Their perpetrators pilloried in the equivalent of the town square. It’s the natural result of natively all encompassing communication, and preservation. Personally I enjoy it. It’s more comedy for the common man.

                    1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                      That’s not how small businesses work. If you said “take a class or read a book about PR”, sure that makes sense. But it’s complete nonsense for a 2 man operation that did EVERY ELEMENT of the business themselves to be like… oh we have to do a press release? Better hire a PR rep.

                      Oh shoot, we need to eat dinner, BETTER HIRE A CHEF.
                      I need to get to the store… better hire a driver!

                      In a VERY small business, people wear many hats by necessity. Honestly, these guys would have been best served by posting to their Patreon only and maybe answering the questions of any outlet that decided to ask them. Because the vast majority of these haters would have NEVER HEARD OF THEM to hate them in the first place.

                    2. Shamus says:

                      (We’re at max-depth nesting. This is a reply to shoeboxjeddy.)

                      I agree with this. (Hiring a PR firm is impractical at this scale.) Moreover, in my experience non-enterprise PR firms aren’t worth much. The few I’ve connected with (back in the 90s, mostly) were just repeating obvious conventional wisdom. Stuff like, “Sex sells!” and “There’s no such thing as bad publicity!” (Neither of which are actually true in all cases.)

                      If you can find a GOOD PR firm, then they’re probably too expensive for your operation. There are probably some hungry startups that are good and cheap, but as a bare-bones indie outfit you probably don’t know how to find them any more than you know how to craft your own PR message.

                      My hope is that we can make this awful situation and make a little lemonade out of it. I think shoeboxjeddy’s suggestion to keep the message private to Patrons was a good one. To that, I’d add:

                      * It’s danger to mix snark / jokes with controversy. If you’re not a next-level communicator, then make your bad news as dry and boring as possible and leave the humor for safe topics.
                      * If you DO use humor, aim it inward with self-deprecation. DO NOT MAKE JOKES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE AUDIENCE. It probably looks like a little friendly kidding around to you, but it will look like mockery and contempt to the aggrieved.
                      * Remember that there is NO keeping secrets between you and 1,000+ people. Even if you say it behind a paywall or on a private Discord channel, it only takes ONE person to leak the info. If giant corporations can’t stop leaks, then your little indie outfit can’t either. Go ahead and write in private, but if you’re talking to strangers then don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in public.
                      * Have a plan for your message. Are you trying to persuade, or inform? One of the problems with the Ooblets message was that the post was an announcement of fact that digressed off into making a few sloppy points against the opposition, but those points weren’t strong enough to make a full case FOR EGS. They were a few weak arguments that were just begging to be refuted.
                      * Don’t try to convince people that they’re having the wrong emotion. This goes double if that person is a stranger and you’re communicating over the internet. It’s entirely possible that they ARE having the wrong emotion, but you can’t talk someone out of being angry by convincing them there’s nothing to be angry about. When in doubt, just sort of make some vague statements to acknowledge that they’re upset without admitting you did anything wrong. The classic “We’re sorry you were offended” is a good example of this kind of non-apology.
                      * Rhetorically, make sure you’re addressing the reasonable people rather than extremists.
                      * Assuming the topic isn’t time-critical, let the message sit a day after you’ve written it. You can’t afford a PR firm, but run it by colleagues so they can gut-check it for you.

                      Those are my advice to indies, anyway. I’m sure this isn’t the last EGS indie exclusive, and I’d love to see those future teams get through it with fewer headaches.

                    3. galacticplumber says:

                      Nope. PR rep. You need a neutral third party who isn’t you to check for fuckups. The minimum amount of work here is offering some literate person a sandwich or equivalent lunch money to read your intended statement before going live with it and asking if it sounds offensive.

                      No amount of self training is going to change the fact that self-proofreading is garbage.

    2. ngthagg says:

      My first encounter with the Ooblets controversy was the Medium article. Claims of harassment are legitimate, I would say.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        No one’s disputing harassment happened. The counterpoint is that the Ooblets devs have apparently strawmanned all critics of their decision into being the types of people engaging in the harassment, starting from since before the harassment even started.

        1. Thomas says:

          That seems way more mild though. I find it hard to get bothered by some people writing quite patronising remarks that upset people.

          I don’t care if that never stops. At the end of the day, some humans just don’t have great personalities.

          On the other hand, harrassment is something I would go out of my way to see get called out.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            Being a jerk isn’t zero-sum.

      2. Clareo Nex says:

        It’s far, far too late to be a public figure on the internet and not expect to get harassed. Even random schmoes get harassed from time to time. Of course it would be better if that weren’t true, but it just is. The group ‘strangers’ includes some predictable proportion of defectors and deviants.

      3. DHW says:

        Of course, just because you’re being harassed doesn’t mean you’re in the right.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          What does in the right mean in this case? If you were to score “being rude in your blog” or “stepping your foot wrong with a PR statement”, how does that compare to the community at large’s response? I would think the score would be something like:
          Ooblets Dev:
          +10 for making a responsible business choice for their circumstances
          -10 for a poorly phrased argument about why they did that

          “Gamers”
          +10 for having good points about why Epic Game Store is bad
          -10 billion for being criminally insane to the degree of racially motivated death threats

          1. DHW says:

            “What does in the right mean in this case?”

            It doesn’t have anything to do with how wrong or excessive someone’s response was, so you’re wasting your time trying to make a comparison. A million people sending you death threats is completely unrelated to whether or not your actions were right. Unfortunately, the narrative “I’m being threatened, therefore I’m a good person” is very useful to bad people, and so they keep pushing it.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              See, there you go again. Now the devs are “bad people”? I think you’re WAY out of line. Being rude on their blog doesn’t make them bad people. Looking at someone in distress and saying “this is a deliberate cover for bad behavior!” DOES make YOU severely lacking in human empathy though.

      4. John says:

        Of course the developers got harassed. As soon as they took Epic’s deal, it was inevitable. (Awful and wrong but also inevitable.) The thing that confounds me is that they were somehow smart enough to realize that they were going to get harassed and yet dumb enough to shoot their mouths off and make things worse for themselves. If they’d been sincere, I could have respected them for their pre-emptive statement, but instead they were sarcastic, dismissive, and, worst of all, disingenuous. They moved the story from “small developer makes sensible business decision” to “small developer is kind of obnoxious”.

        For all it’s inevitability, however, the harassment is still deeply depressing. I’m sad but not surprised, and that makes me even sadder. Every time something like this happens I want to travel back in time to the 90s, find one of those techno-utopian manifesto writers, seize him by the shoulders, and cry “You fool, you poor, sweet fool!”

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Somewhat this. For the record I don’t have a horse in the Ooblets race and I’m generally somewhat “eh” on the whole Epic backlash (not asking for arguments, heard them before, this is not a post about that). What does make me sad is the way we_as_the_internet are normalising harassment, and I’m not even talking about Ooblets thing in particular. I understand it’s a difficult topic because different people are going to draw the line between harassment and expressing legitimate grievance, or even venting, in different places, and are going to have different sensitivity for different cases and causes (and yes, some devs are going to play martyr) but the way a lot of people act like “oh you can expect to get some death threats in your email, or have it flooded with shock pictures, that’s normal, it’s fine as long as they haven’t gone to the lengths of finding your house and mailing you dead animals” is honestly kind of depressing.

          1. Narkis says:

            What exactly do you want us_as_the_internet to do? It is a fact that everyone gets harrassed on the internet. People suck. You cannot fix them. You cannot argue with them. In fact, you cannot do anything to make the situation better. People have always sucked, and they will always suck. All you can do is aknowledge that you will get harrassed, the people you like will get harrassed and the people you hate will get harrassed and just sorta filter that into background noise where it belongs.

            It pisses me of to no end to see arguments that can be summarized as “People that agree with you are harrassers, and therefore your opinion is invalid”. It pisses me off because it can be used against any opinion, anywhere at anytime. Even on things everyone can agree on, like “Puppies should not be kicked”. We can’t we deal with internet trolls like we deal with PETA?

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              This idea that bad behavior can’t be fixed or punished is nuts to me, and makes things much worse for everyone in society. Imagine if other crimes were treated this way. “You were driving drunk? Well, we can’t punish that and people will ALWAYS drive drunk, there are no measures we can put in place to stop it or even punish those who do it. *SHRUG*”

              How about, the platforms people use to send criminal threats punish users who use their platform to do that and law enforcement steps in when the threats and statements rise to that level? You’ll note that people don’t often make these kind of statements in public, because they are aware there are CONSEQUENCES for doing it.

            2. Sleeping Dragon says:

              I do not recall making that argument. In fact I quite deliberately stated that this was not directly related to any specific side in any specific argument.

              While I do think Shoeboxjeddy is simplifying things a bit, since legal action is difficult (though not impossible) under these circumstances, I stand by my statement. Mind you, I’m not arguing you’re wrong when saying we’re not going to suddenly turn people into angels, that is perfectly true. I’m saying that maybe we’re setting the bar too low and giving in too easy to the point where we’re not just acnowledging the existence of a few bad eggs but enabling those people and teaching the internet society at large that yes, this is the way we interact here.

              Rather than Jeddy’s example I would compare the situation to bullying between children. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart and for years I’ve heard arguments that bullying is “a natural process that strenghtens character” or “this is just the way kids are” or that a child “needs to learn to deal with it now or they won’t make it in adult life”. Can I say that there is no bullying now? Of course not. Are some people overzealous and treat every conflict between children as a catastrophe that requires teraphy on both sides? Yes. But do I think the fact we’ve acknowledged that in many cases bullying has severe, even tragic, consequences and so now we’re paying more attention and are testing, implementing and trying solutions even if they are imperfect a good thing? Yes.

  4. Gordon says:

    +1 for Stardew valley lets play

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    On the topic of Stardew Valley, I think there’s something about the home-care aspect of taking care of multiple chores, maintaining social contact with the neighbors, and pursuing personal condition that, like The Sims, appeals more broadly to women than to men. My wife and I both played the game, but she kept playing while I got bored of it after I had mastered the systems. I’d hazard the only mechanic it’s missing is a hidden-object game at this point.

    1. I think its making order from chaos, having a wide range of goals to choose from, and not being 3d. 3d worlds give me massive motion sickness. Instant puking unless on a game system, which doesn’t for some reason.

      Sims is…meh. You never get anywhere unless you let them die, but in Stardew you actually reach goals. I like having an ending goal, and choosing my own goals.

      Interesting note: many of the people on the Stardew valley subreddit, equally male and female, deal with depression. There is an ongoing conversation about how the game helped people pull themselves out of depression, and start gardening. (Animal Crossing has similar stories.)

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Hmmm… Makes sense, if it has end goals (which I didn’t know). In this case, it does have the tools to help people.

        I’ve heard enough stories about how Dark Souls helped people with severe depression, but never got why. Recently I learned, that one of the effective tools is the setting the standard, to measure yourself against. I think the idea is, when you have a concrete standard, than the progression towards it is measurable and obvious for the person, which gives a reward feedback of some kind.

        Dark Souls, obviously, sets some kind of standard with bosses and enemies. And if Stardew Valley has its own goals to achieve, it makes sense that it’ll also have a therapeutic effect

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Interestingly enough from my own experience the reputation of Dark Souls as a Very Hard Game makes failure much easier to bear and increases the sense of achievement, which probably helps in this situation.

          Also I spent some time with Sims but somewhat like Heather didn’t feel it was rewarding in the same way that Stardew Valley was. Personally I think it’s because Sims is just too much of a sandbox, while there are some ostensible goals in the form of ambitions in the later games it doesn’t really feel like you’re affecting the world and the NPC characters don’t really have character but are just more dummies for you to play with, if indirectly. SV on the other hand is by no means hard or difficult but gives you the sense of progression and working towards a goal (for example restoring the community center) and the world feels reactive to your progress. On the surface both are a kind of fantasies of fulfilling life that you have under control but Stardew puts your achievements in context and for many people that probably helps them relate to the game better.

          1. This exactly. With SV you feel like you are actually getting somewhere and hey, if I can manage this then I can you know, manage taking a shower or watering a plant, and pretty soon you end up getting up and doing real things. The sheer number of people who post the real things they have grown as a result of playing SV is staggering.

        2. galacticplumber says:

          I think it’s in more than simple goal setting and progression. There’s also the messaging behind how the mechanics present the lore.

          Yeah, you died, happens a lot around here to pretty much everyone. That guy that killed you? He has also died countless times, some of them maybe even your doing.

          That’s not failure. Failure is giving up curled into a ball like all those husks under firelink you probably slayed with contemptuous ease for a few scraps of soul, or because it amused you.

          Now get up.

          In short, yes the game’s obstacles are mean, but there’s an element of framing at play here. For a similar example in a different genre look at how super meat boy deliberately respawns the player IMMEDIATELY and without any fanfare upon death to keep momentum.

      2. kunedog says:

        Heather, do you run any mods? I have a few that that are “cheating” (didn’t use any mods the first time through, but I could never again play the game without them):

        Friends Forever – Removes relationship decay (i.e. the per day penalty for not talking/interacting with someone). This is the reason I started using mods and the first mod I ever sought out, as soon as I figured out how the relationship system worked. I could just sense how much boring busy work would be involved in visiting everyone everyday, especially in subsequent playthroughs.

        Automate – Place a chest next to a device (keg, bee house, etc.) and it will auto-load materials and collect the products as available.

        Artifact System Fixed – Increases the odds of finding artifacts you don’t already have. The modder’s description explains some of the math behind the stock game’s odds, and it arguably has some unfixed bugs.

        NPC Map Locations – I hate hunting people, especially if I don’t find them (before bedtime).

        My other mods (plus the wiki) make my life easier but don’t tilt the gameplay balance so much:

        ArchaeologyHouseContentManagementHelper
        BetterArtisanGoodIcons
        CraftCounter
        DataLayers
        EnemyHealthBars
        GiftTasteHelper
        LookupAnything
        ObjectTimeLeft
        Prices
        SilentScarecrows
        TVAnnouncements
        UI Info Suite

        1. I currently only have the mods my kids use so I can play multiplayer with them. (Haven’t actually used them except for in one playthrough.) Plus I have our middle kid’s mod “Misterfrogeyes Portrait Overhaul”. I haven’t had time to look for mods I actually want to use, though Automate and NCP Map Locations are definitely getting added asap. Friends forever sounds good too.

      3. The Rocketeer says:

        An escalating series of achievable, yet time-sensitive goals, and a broad variety of these goals, is exactly what makes Stardew Valley so fiendishly addictive, I think.

        Consequently, it’s the point at which most of your goals are in the rear-view mirror and the remaining goals are too time-consuming (the multi-milliomaire purchases) or RNG-dependent (completing the museum) that I check out of the game. There are a variety of longevity mods for the game, but I haven’t resorted to them so far.

    2. The ONLY people I know who play games like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley are male. They keep trying to get me to play them but it’s just not a style of game that I enjoy. Go figure.

    3. Baron Tanks says:

      I just want to say I love Stardew Valley! I don’t see how it would yield interesting blog content but I’m all for trying. It’s not even a game I feel an urge to discuss, it’s just a bunch of delightful escapism. And sometimes that’s enough! Although I too am aware of the many testimonies where it helped people deal with (aspects of) their depression. And that’s even more awesome! But for me it’s jst a delightfully pressure free environment to escape too. First time I played it I used it as my downtime from my Dark Souls 3 playthrough, of all things…

  6. Asdasd says:

    Heather was a great guest last time, so it’s cool to see her back for another episode!

  7. Droid says:

    “Home addresses” is probably another point where the higher-ups just don’t understand the industry. Snail mail addresses are standard (in many industries) for when you want to contact somebody but want to catch the odd outlier who does not have an e-mail address. But those are video game journalists, for crying out loud! I’m pretty sure home addresses were just added as required info because of the thinking above, applied by some suit somewhere high up the food chain, completely ignoring the type of industry they’re running.

  8. Chad Miller says:

    Re: Ooblets – one particular strawman that stands out to me (and that I didn’t see mentioned in the cast or the video) is that the developers seem to be intentionally creating a false dichotomy between “you are 100% okay with this” and “you think we don’t have the right to do this”, which in turn is one of the things pushing the Toxic Entitled Gamers angle farther than it can reasonably go.

    A position of “I think you made the right decision for yourselves, but I also think it sucks” is being not only ignored but completely dismissed as a possibility. That they continued to do this in the face of prospective customers raising objections like “Epic won’t even sell me games in my own currency” is sailing past tone-deaf into tone-fingers-in-ears-lalala-can’t-hear-you territory.

    1. Crimson Dragoon says:

      “I think you made the right decision for yourselves, but I also think it sucks” is a perfect summation of my feelings. Thank you for that.

      And you’re spot on about the dichotomy issue. The whole EGS debate has created this “developers” vs “gamers” split, even though most people (and developers) fall in the middle. Now we have condescending letters to gamers, and people using that to justify harassment. God help us all, its Gamergate all over again (and please no, I’m not trying to open that particular can of worms right now).

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Quoting: “A position of “I think you made the right decision for yourselves, but I also think it sucks” is being not only ignored but completely dismissed as a possibility.”

      Okay, that’s a real position. Why do they need to be deluged with thousands of responses of that nature? Why should they take the advice of people who would prefer things done a certain way if it could cause them to lose their shirts? When did business become a charity?

      “I can’t buy it in my country now!” Okay… and? That’s too bad, guess they won’t get your money. The Epic deal kept them in business and financially secure so ultimately it’s too bad, so sad for “I, this one customer, cannot buy it now.”

      1. Chad Miller says:

        Okay, that’s a real position. Why do they need to be deluged with thousands of responses of that nature?

        The people expressing discontent with the decision and/or their blog post aren’t a monolithic entity. And why should someone with a respectful opinion feel the need to withhold that opinion just because other people also have it?

        Why should they take the advice of people who would prefer things done a certain way if it could cause them to lose their shirts? When did business become a charity?

        You are, literally, doing the exact thing my original comment complained about!

        1. Chad Miller says:

          Like, both the original blog posts and comments like yours imply that there is something wrong with even being disappointed. The blog post refers to all discontent about this type of exclusivity as coming from a “weird anti-Epic contingent”, while you seem to think that if a Patreon supporter donated for the development of the game only to find out that the game is going to be exclusive to a store that literally won’t sell to them, that they can’t express any level of unhappiness without being oppressive somehow.

          You said that “I think you made the right decision for yourselves, but I also think it sucks” is a “real position” but then go on to completely ignore that position by strawmanning it into a claim that the developers are beholden to “take their advice.” You’re taking the position that because someone somewhere is abusive and angry about something, that everyone else must be prohibited from simply being sad. That public criticism of something is inherently uncouth. That a silent boycott is apparently the only approved way to express any level of discontent with a business decision.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            Here’s my problem with this real position. “Hey, I’m a Patron of yours, but I live in (hypothetical example, may not apply) Brazil, and I therefore can’t buy from Epic Store. I don’t like this!” That’s a fair post. But how should the creators respond to that? The answer really is “There’s nothing we can do about that.” And when they said that (seems like they maybe said it in a way that people considered rude), now it’s a gotcha argument about how awful the dev supposedly is? It’s a real position that might cause discomfort to a person, but doesn’t really mean a lot to the business side of things. Of course they’d love if every human being on the planet COULD purchase their game if so desired, but the deal at Epic offered an advantage to them even if ZERO people purchased it. That deal was too good to pass up, for obvious reasons!

            1. Chad Miller says:

              See, this comment I mostly agree with. When it comes to the actual decision to sign with Epic, I’d even go so far as to say I’d probably do the same thing.

              However, “this was the right call for us and we’re sorry if you can’t buy the game now” isn’t how they presented their argument. They instead intentionally framed anyone who might have negative feelings about the decision as some irrational hater. That’s what I, and I suspect the more reasonable end of the complainers, are reacting to. Here’s a direct quote I also mentioned in a different thread here:

              We’re aware of the backlash that’s been hitting games that sign with Epic. I don’t expect much of our uniquely-lovely community to fit into this weird anti-Epic contingent,

              or what about this one?

              I get the appeal of wanting to seek out things to get angry about.

              Those statements are probably fair descriptions of certain people, but this post (and the devs’ followup responses to the backlash) are then applying this characterization to anyone who might disapprove for any reason. That’s why I think some people are completely right to feel insulted.

  9. BlueHorus says:

    I have to agree with Heather. If Shamus configured the site to automatically open a really obnoxious viagra commercial or similar, then made patronizing and sarcastic comments about people who complained…

    …it would be a little bit funny.

    Might be worth it for a one-off April Fools prank or similar.

    1. Ander says:

      That brings out what I think is the best defense the Ooblets devs have.
      “I thought it was funny. I thought my small target audience would think it was funny.”
      That may be insufficient (not recognizing that reasonable people felt insulted) and naive (not recognizing that the audience would grow), but it’s relatable without requiring anyone assume they meant to draw any and all press at the cost of controversy or really did feel better than a vast swath of the gaming community. Furthermore, it’s the defense they gave in the follow-up. I think it deserves more attention, even negative attention, than the snarkiness in the original post. I’d say the main lesson to learn isn’t that they need to treat “their audience” better (they had emailed their Patreons already and, again, only thought of their existing community who were invested in the game as the audience); it’s that one doesn’t get to decide who their audience is online.

      1. Geebs says:

        The best argument that the Ooblets devs have is that they got completely dumped in it by Double Fine dropping them after being bought out by Microsoft. Losing your publisher at the last minute is a pretty awful thing for a creator on a shoestring budget, and you can imagine their relief at Epic swooping in and basically saving them financially.

        Which is not to say that they didn’t come across as giant dicks in their initial blog post; telling people that they should be worrying about global warming instead is disrespectful to the intelligence of their audience.

        Which is not to say that the response they received was in any way justifiable.

        1. Ander says:

          I was referring specifically to defense for their first post. Thanks for saying this, though. I didn’t realize the position they were in.

        2. Mistwraithe says:

          So you don’t think that people should be worrying about global warming instead? I mean really, how big is this decision by Ooblets in the scheme of things? Is it on par with global warming? 10% as important perhaps?

          1. Syal says:

            That one I absolutely take offense to. Justifying a bad decision by pointing out how much worse you could do is not only irrelevent, it’s actively disturbing. If someone says “It’s not like we killed someone”, and I’ve actually had someone close to me killed, now you’ve reminded me of a traumatic event, for the sake of justifying bad behavior.

            Specifically, now I’m going to think of human rights abuses and a potential apocalypse whenever I think of Ooblets. Very, very bad call.

            1. Mistwraithe says:

              Hmmm. They were not pointing out how much worse *they* could do, that would be offensive. On the contrary, they were pointing out that there are more worthwhile things to get angry about. I agree it was probably a mistake, but I don’t see anything particularly wrong with this.

              1. Syal says:

                1. The comment assumes people can only be angry at one thing at a time. This is untrue, and in fact a really common way of being angry at big things is to find a little thing that can be dealt with and deal with that. Imagine someone saying dirty dishes shouldn’t bother you as long as human rights abuses are taking place in the world. Are we not going to wash dishes?

                2. The argument cuts both ways. “Maybe you should be worrying about human rights abuses instead of the response to your deal with Epic.” “Maybe you should be trying to solve climate change instead of making art assets for a videogame.” “Maybe instead of Epic paying Indies for exclusive titles, they should be using that money to remake the ending of Game of Thrones.”

                3. In fact, 1’s implication that they don’t understand people can be angry about more than one thing at a time implies that the speaker isn’t angry about climate change or human rights abuses, otherwise they’d be addressing those instead of themselves. Unrelated callousness is just more fuel for the fire.

                4. Again, just mentioning the thing is enough to bring it to mind. Even if I don’t have some painful memory associated with the topic, you’ve made it so I think of you and the topic together. If you mention human rights abuses and climate change alongside your dancing farmgirl gif, well, now that girl is dancing on the graves of people who have died from heatstroke.

                5. Finally, on top of the subconscious association from 4, telling me I can’t worry about you until I worry about climate change gives me a reason to deliberately try to tie you to climate change, and the topic is nebulous enough I can probably do it, especially considering Epic is a multi-billion-dollar company. Now we’ve escalated from “this developer was obnoxious” to “we are actively fighting climate change by tearing down this developer”.

                Never a good call.

          2. Shamus says:

            This is a logical fallacy known as relative privation, and it’s a fallacy because anyone can use it at any time to deflect any criticism without needing to argue the merits.

            EA could defend their loot boxes by saying sure, it’s not good for kids, but look – cigarette smoking kills half a million people a year so why don’t you pick on tobacco companies and leave us alone to prey on children with gambling mechanics?

            Activision could defend their appalling treatment of contract workers by pointing out that people in other industries die in industrial accidents.

            If I cover my site in scummy auto-play ads, I could say, “Hey, don’t you have bigger problems to worry about? Haven’t you heard about the opioid epidemic?”

            Using this logic, nobody is ever allowed to criticize anything that isn’t already the worst thing in the world.

            1. Mistwraithe says:

              Fair call. It was certainly a distraction from what they were trying to say, a distraction which obviously added to the annoyance some people felt at their post, when it was presumably meant to reduce it.

              1. Mephane says:

                It’s not merely a “distraction”. It’s disingenuous and condescending to even attempt it, and shows a great lack of respect for their (actual and potential) customers.

                1. Mistwraithe says:

                  I disagree with that conclusion, but OK, clearly there are some very different interpretations on offer here.

  10. Chris says:

    You think the ESA doxxing is bad. Well let me tell you about the dutch chamber of commerce. you have to be registered in it if you have a company, and they use it for taxation. Now what the blockheads did is that the tax number of your company is the same as your social security number if you register as a one man firm. Meaning that every social security number of everyone having a small company has information supposed to be hidden out there in public.

    But it gets worse. First it was a small part that just was there for facilitate tax collection. But when everything had to make money they flew in some hotshot, he looked at the pile of personal information they had there, and then sold it to everyone who wants it. Yes, for mere pennies your phone number, email adress and home adress are sold to whomever wants it. So everyone who signs up their new company instantly gets assaulted with mail and phonecalls selling them electricity contracts, pens, paper and whatever else you could need when starting a company. People even changed their phonenumber in the registery to an unplugged phone to stop the endless spam.

    I have a couple more stories about private information (like the time my brother had to send a scan of his passport to google to unlock his university email) but long story short, people ask a lot more information than they need, dont protect the information at all and store it in plain text, and sell it for pennies. Because making someone else suffer for a quick buck, even though you had a profitable interaction with them, just to get that extra bit of money, is completely normal.

  11. Olivier FAURE says:

    Picture a large mob of angry people. They’re all standing in a stadium, shouting at each other, screaming insults and laughing. Behind you is a guillotine, on your left is a cart already half full with severed heads and decapitated bodies. In your shaking hands, you’re holding a paper. As the crowd falls silent, you have to read what is written on the paper aloud. Your survival will depend on the reaction of the crowd. People are staring at you, some of them expectantly, some of them with boredom, some of them with a piercing fury that already sees you lying on the chopping block. You start reading.

    Anybody ever writing a post on the internet to justify a consumer-facing decision of their company, whether they’re an official PR employee or not, should always act like they’re going to have to repeat whatever they write to the above crowd.

    That goes double if the decision concerns a price raise, cancelling or delaying features, or any kind of elaborate corporate scheme that has recently had social media exposure for being deemed anti-consumer. That goes quadruple for anybody working in the game industry.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      There’s an argument to be made at all communication should be of such a character that you would be willing to proclaim it in the mortal circumstances described. But as a representative of a company whose existence depends on the outcome of such communications, the attitude becomes even more necessary. Except that this doesn’t seem to be the case from the perspective of the people developing Ooblets. It appears they believe they have been admitted to an unassailable castle, and are taunting their former persecutors from the battlements. This certainly sounds like fun, at least for the present. And it is in the interest of Epic to cultivate this attitude as well, as counterintuitive as it sounds. Because now, the Ooblets devs have effectively sold themselves into slavery. If Epic ever wants something from those poor souls, they have only to suggest they might be cast outside the gates, and into the outer darkness. In that light, we might question how much of the internet gamer toxicity is actually precisely engineered false-flag aggression toward independent developers who refuse to shackle themselves to the protection of the syndicates. Or, in the same light, we might refrain from all such questions.

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        There’s an argument to be made at all communication should be of such a character that you would be willing to proclaim it in the mortal circumstances described.

        Fuck no. If that was what I wanted my internet conversations to be like, I’d be hanging out on Twitter.

        In that light, we might question how much of the internet gamer toxicity is actually precisely engineered false-flag aggression toward independent developers who refuse to shackle themselves to the protection of the syndicates.

        I’m tempted to be sarcastic and suggest that if toxicity is a false flag, this makes Tumblr+Twitter the largest, most expensive false flag operation in the history of video games.

        But seriously, no. Hanlon’s razor applies: any toxicity you observe on the internet is overwhelmingly likely to the be genuine and to have developed organically. Corporations are way better at putting their foot in their mouth than they are at manipulating public opinion.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Well, I’d wager the answer would lie pretty far from “all of it.” But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was significantly above “none” as well.

      2. Ander says:

        “their former persecutors”
        I know nothing about these devs, really. But they don’t seem to have had a tremendously large audience. How many persecutors did they have? Was the purpose of the post primarily to mock them? To the former I think, “Not many.” To the latter I think, “Not primarily, no.” I don’t think they would have made that post that way if they thought their existing (at the time) audience felt upset at their decision. Which is just to say, I don’t assume ill intent here – at the least, not targeted ill intent. None of their Patreon levels promised game keys. While I can understand backers being miffed by a sudden other source of income, I think it’s worth recognizing that much of the backlash isn’t coming from those backers; it’s coming from outside. They thought they could have a laugh in their little community. Most of the backlash is coming from people outside of that community. Again, I think the primary lesson is that their image of a small community was an illusion. I do not think that there was a specific portion of people they expected to both read their announcement and be insulted by it. I do think they expected disagreement, but I don’t think they expected those who disagreed (in their small little group which was used to a certain light tone) to feel personally attacked.

      3. Ninety-Three says:

        So Epic is falsifying public sentiment… to make it look like Epic is publicly despised… to make developers more likely to side with Epic?

        I see several problems with this plan.

        1. Syal says:

          Although if they pulled it off it would totally justify the name.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I think the implication here is more that Epic has no actual interest in improving their public image and in this way does no favours to the devs who decide to publish with them. This makes sense if they assume that most people who are vocally against them would not be their customers anyway. In fact, since I think their primary interest is still building up customer base the partisan division may be working in their favour since, while they may loose a few people those who do become their customers are likely to be more loyal. Personally I don’t know either way but I would not say it’s impossible if somone argued for it.

          1. Shamus says:

            “Epic has no actual interest in improving their public image and in this way does no favours to the devs who decide to publish with them.”

            I think this is true, and it’s really frustrating. You can absolutely win people over to your side over time, but not if you antagonize them and act like you don’t want their business. This is an insane strategy if you’re an underdog facing off against an entrenched hegemon, since all the tribalism you’re cultivating will work against you.

            Valve is the one in the position to adopt the “We don’t need you mentality”, but Epic really should be putting on a good guy mask while trying to carve out a market share.

            1. Mephane says:

              but Epic really should be putting on a good guy mask while trying to carve out a market share.

              Well, they are doing that, in a way. It’s just that their actions and their words clash so starkly that the words become a farce, but they do often talk as if they were on a mission to “save PC gaming (from Steam)”. It’s a ludicrous claim to begin with, but whether they themselves (or more precisely: Tim Sweeney himself) believe their own narrative is an still an open question. (Though I tend towards assuming he knows it’s all bullshit and is lying deliberately.)

            2. shoeboxjeddy says:

              It seems as if Epic realized that they faced such a STARK uphill battle, that they have deliberately nudged their comments towards cultivating a “home team” who are fans of their store for the reason of getting to “battle” Valve/Steam as opposed to the Epic Team having any actual merits. And this has… completely worked, so I’m curious to see if that pays off in market terms. It hasn’t hurt Epic that Valve has taken this incredibly in-their-favor battle, and made TONS of avoidable errors. Valve’s violent swinging between NO moderation (this game that doesn’t come with an EXE file can be sold on Steam, sure why not!) to puritanical moderation (no cheesecake visual novels, starting TODAY. No reasons given, get out weebs!) makes it challenging to actually LIKE Steam as a game selling platform.

      4. John says:

        In that light, we might question how much of the internet gamer toxicity is actually precisely engineered false-flag aggression toward independent developers who refuse to shackle themselves to the protection of the syndicates.

        I’m not sure how sincere this bit is, but I will give it credit for at least being more concrete than the usual free-floating gamer paranoia that developers, publishers, and journalists are all somehow conspiring to do some vague but definitely very bad thing to poor, innocent gamers.

        That said, I feel pretty confident that precisely none of the gamer toxicity directed at indie devs is orchestrated by big publishers. If a publisher wants to control an indie dev, all they have to do is buy the dev or, even cheaper, fund the dev’s game. There are some indie devs who are indie as a matter of principle, but they aren’t making (and can’t make) games that would compete with big publishers’ output. The revenue stream from Shoot Guy 3 is not going to be adversely affected by the simultaneous release of Dream-Like Walking Simulator With Pretty Colors.

    2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      Please tell me which industry’s consumers would have reacted favorably to this announcement. Everyone is acting like the gamer crowd is the worst eva, but I can’t imagine any other group that would have loved being talked down to like that.

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        I dunno, I feel like the gamer crowd is more possessive.

        Like, in non-media industries, if you don’t like something, you just don’t buy it, but in video games it feel like people are always saying “No! That is a slippery slope to late-stage capitalism! We must coordinate to boycott this game, behead their developers, and leave their skulls as a warning to the next company trying to sell overpriced DLCs / lootboxes / season pass /etc”.

        (I’m not saying that these practices aren’t predatory, I’m saying gamers have a really strong reaction to them even when they have no intent of buying the thing; which is not a bad thing per se)

        But that might just be because I haven’t been exposed as much to other industries.

        1. Higher_Peanut says:

          I have an idea as to why personal investment is so high..

          For a long time games were a very niche market. When someone bought out a studio you liked or engaged in some sort of practice you didn’t approve of if you decided not to buy the product there was a decent chance you had to give up on the whole series or genre (game genre, not gaming entirely). There were few non-shovelware alternatives available, if any to go to so the stakes seemed higher.

          Now that the gaming industry is huge this problem is smaller and we’re beginning to see more middle budget niche titles around. But the attitude of investment may have been maintained in the community, helped along by things like the platform wars.

          I don’t know if it fits well though. Gaming wouldn’t be the first entertainment industry to be over-invested in by fans e.g. Star Wars. Or even industry in general, like New Coke.

        2. Lino says:

          I dunno, I feel like the gamer crowd is more possessive.
          … But that might just be because I haven’t been exposed as much to other industries.

          Look at football (or soccer, if you’re from the US) fans in Europe. In the Balkans we have some very… passionate individuals. Passionate as in destroying buses, cars, and other property, putting people in hospital, and sometimes even beating people to death during and after football matches. That’s why whenever one of the big football clubs has a game, we have hundreds of policemen patrolling the premises of the stadium. And when we have a game between the two biggest clubs in the country, traffic gets rerouted, and there are even more policemen on watch. During those times, walking around the stadium feels like walking through a war zone – the tension you feel between the policemen and the football hooligans is so thick, you can cut it with a knife. I’ve never been to a game (never liked football much), but on the stadium they have fights so huge, they can give Helm’s Deep a run for its money. Sometimes they even manage to sneak in weapons, and throw bombs.
          Of course, that’s not all football fans – it’s just a very small subset.* But a small subset out of the most popular sport in the country (and the world) is still a lot of people.
          The same is true for gaming – overall, I think it’s much lighter, although to some people it may seem worse. It’s much better in the sense that 99% of the people who write mean comments and harass people don’t actually carry out their threats. Of course, gamers tend to be much more active online, so whenever they’re unhappy it can feel like a wave of hate and vitriol pouring over whoever the target of the day is.
          But we need to remember that the people who go out and write these sort of things are a very small subset of gamers, and sometimes don’t even play the games whose devs they’re harassing – sometimes they don’t even play games at all – they’re just troubled individuals who want to vent their unhappiness at someone.
          Just for some perspective, there are more than 2 billion people playing games worldwide. At the same time, Twitter (the main source for toxicity and harassment in these types of stories) has somewhere north of 330 million daily active users. Given the fact that the majority of those users probably aren’t gamers, I really don’t understand why so many news outlets equate the entirety of the gaming public with the way a small number of whackjobs decide to fill their free time.

          *Hell, some of those people don’t even like football. There’s a subset of hooligans called “football chameleons”. They go to games just so they can have a fight and be a part of the melee

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I was going to write about how I don’t remember ever hearing about a riot because a book authoer went with a specific publisher but your football analogy is interesting to explore in that hooligans often perceive themselves as the “real fans” willing to (sometimes literally) kill and die for their hobby, it is somewhat worrying when you think about it. I do think the similarities go deeper as there are definitely people who are in it just for the fight (the “chameleons”), there are those who think they’re joining a cause and those who have an actual horse in the race. I will point out that authorities have a hell of a time dealing with the fact that those people have established football fandom as their outlet for violence and personally I’m just uneasy how much we’re normalizing things like death threats over the internet and can’t help but worry what will happen if (when?) some disturbed individual eventualy takes it “too far” (and I’m using that ironically because I think it already is).

      2. Mistwraithe says:

        I’ve been thinking about this and I think it is particular to online communities. The Gaming community also seems to be especially bad at it.

        Consider a physical product made by a new company, something you want like a new Sonos compatible gismo or some other cool piece of kit. Let’s say that as it nears release the company announced that they were going to make it exclusive to a single chain of stores. They say, and it is common knowledge, that they are doing this because the exclusive chain is pre-buying a whole lot of units of stock AND giving them 2.5 times as much of a share of the sales price as the competitors do.

        Let’s say that exclusive chain is not one you normally go to, maybe it’s further away so you have to drive further, maybe the stores are smaller and pokier, with less staff.

        How would you feel? I think many consumers would be disappointed, maybe even a bit annoyed and they would have to toss up whether they wanted the product enough to make the effort of visiting the exclusive chain. But I don’t see consumers of this physical product writing thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of posts around the internet about how bad the company was for making this decision, even sending them hate mail about it. I just don’t see it.

        Yet for computer games it seems to be the current fashion to react this way when games companies decide to take Epic’s offer of pre-purchasing sales and charging 60% less commission than the competition. And it isn’t even like gamers need to drive to the store each time to buy each new product, they just need to go through the pain of installing Epic once.

        I find it puzzling. This expectation that a company should agree to pay 2.5 times as much commission and turn down a minimum sales deal, in order to make slightly it easier for you to buy their product… Well, I can see why someone might call it weird, or even entitled.

        P.S. I think that those who contributed to Ooblet development on Patreon (or other funding platforms in other Epic Exclusive situations) do have a legitimate case. It would be interesting to know how many of the Ooblet protestors are Patreon backers. For example, are any of those on this thread who are anti Ooblet, also backers of Ooblet on Patreon?

        1. Higher_Peanut says:

          It’s particular to online communities because of that digital component.

          In the store analogy they’re not just selling a gizmo at another store, they’re selling an inferior gizmo with vastly reduced support and if the new store closes down your gizmo may be gone forever. In some cases people can’t purchase a gizmo at all in their country anymore.

          The problem isn’t just that gamers don’t support Epic or their practices and PR. Epic is offering a strictly worse product and service with nothing in return.

          1. Mistwraithe says:

            I don’t agree with the country thing, as someone who lives in New Zealand we have products which are released elsewhere and not available in our country all the time, yet somehow we manage to survive without having such strong reactions when it happens (although for digital products there is certainly a tendency to say if you won’t let us buy it then a proportion of people will just pirate it instead).

            The question of losing the game if the Epic Store goes under is a good one. I can see that as a legitimate objection. However, the same is true of the various other exclusive stores (EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, etc) and I don’t see quite the same level of hatred over exclusives for them (resignation, frustration, yes, but not hatred).

            I also disagree with the strictly worse product (although some aspects are clearly worse). Epic pay the game developers 2.5 times MORE money than Steam does. Let that sink in – consider if someone offered to pay you 2.5 times your current salary. Do game players not want the makers of the games they like to be getting more money? Do they not want them to have money to improve the game or make an even better sequel? Everyone would rather give that money to Steam rather than let the game developers, virtually all of which have been smallish indies (in the Epic exclusives I have seen) have a bigger share of the pie.

            1. Higher_Peanut says:

              Also NZ here and again it’s the digital that’s the issue. Physical stuff doesn’t get released here because it’s hard to ship and you can still parallel import it even if it isn’t released. A digital product doesn’t have shipping issues and you can’t use alternate purchasing avenues without risking an account ban. So when you are being excluded from purchasing the company has openly declared you aren’t even worth their time to accept the money you’re trying to give them. Of course people feel insulted.

              It was clear the other stores were never going to be contenders. Few are up in arms over the other AAA stores because they’re not buying up exclusives left and right. Epic’s PR tweets about exclusives claiming it’s for the good of gamers and not just buying their way to a market share aren’t exactly helping matters with a very cynical crowd. If they act the same way, they’ll likely receive the same scorn.

              You disagree with it being strictly worse but aspects are clearly worse? Everything about Epic’s service to the end user is inferior, from the storefront all the way to the network infrastructure. If you’re going to state publicly to your customers “I am choosing to give you an inferior product because I need more money” you should expect a very poor response indie or not. Doubly so if the company you partner with is in hot water with your consumer base. The Epic store isn’t aimed at the providing for the customer and it shows with how people treat it.

              As an aside I hate what happened with digital distribution and what continues to happen. We used to pay shipping and extra taxes on games as they passed through ports. When we switched to digital, region locked prices took all that overhead as extra profit because people were used to the price point. A $60US game should cost about $94NZD by currency conversion but they release at $120NZD+.

      3. shoeboxjeddy says:

        The gamer crowd actually looks and finds small press releases like this to brigade against. Meanwhile, in the auto industry, Nissan can admit that they had faulty safety equipment, lied about it for years, and are only now fixing it, and most of their customers don’t even HEAR about it. Much less form an angry hate mob to chase and punish them with.

        1. Higher_Peanut says:

          I put this down to that very few people think they could ever come close to impacting an industry of that scale. The brigade of lawyers and years required to return a meaningful result probably put most off.

  12. Alberek says:

    That time you ask your kids to put the parental block because you don’t trust humanity anymore…

    What I don’t understand is why Take2 Interactive didn’t reach the guy earlier and said: “This isn’t a marketing stunt, please stop doing this, etc”.
    Also, how common of a practice is hiring a private investigator?

  13. Dreadjaws says:

    I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it a million times again: if the Ooblets devs had simply admitted that they needed the money no one would be angry at them. Look at the David Cage games. Leaving aside how you feel about Cage, Epic paid for those previously Playstation-exclusives to come to their store, but here’s the thing: they wouldn’t be coming to PC if it wasn’t for them. Epic did a perfectly good thing here: they actually made these games less exclusive. And people aren’t angry about it (well, at least the people who are aware of this).

    So yeah, needing money to complete your project is relatable and understandable. Insulting your consumer base while you do it is unacceptable. Not saying you’re sorry about your previous statement and doubling down on your insulting means is career suicide.

    We’re in 2019. No adult in their place can honestly believe they can get away with this kind of message without attracting backlash. Hell, every Epic exclusive announcement has been met with backlash, so one that even takes the time to be condescending is obviously only going to make things worse. I’m convinced they counted on that backlash with the classic “No publicity is bad publicity” belief. They just though they could deal with it.

    1. Geebs says:

      I don’t think there was much of a backlash over Control, was there?

      I haven’t bought anything on the Epic store, mostly because of the continued exclusive deals.

      Partly because I object to this sort of stuff on principle – these games already run on the same OS, so there’s not even the excuse of not being able to justify the cost of porting*. Yes I know it’s just business, but artificial scarcity of digital goods is still stupid.

      Mostly, because we have no idea of whether Epic are actually in this for the long term; there aren’t any figures to show how many of these indie games are actually making Epic a profit after they honour the sales guarantees. What are they going to do when the Fortnite money dries up? If there’s one consistent feature of the way they run their store, it’s that they don’t care about either building infrastructure or looking after the actual consumers. If other digital stores close, you generally still have a Steam key or a DRM-free download. With Epic, I imagine you’d just be SOL.

      1. Geebs says:

        To clarify the last bit further:

        1) Epic are doing exclusivity deals to gain market share.
        2) when Epic has sufficient market share, guaranteed minimum sales will, from their point of view, be a waste of money
        3) Epic are still making new exclusivity deals.
        4) therefore Epic don’t think they have enough market share to survive without these deals
        5) therefore the plan isn’t working all that well

        I’m not sure being the Uber of videogames is necessarily long term sustainable.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          You really don’t need that much of an analysis to know Epic’s strategy isn’t working. If it was working, they’d want us to know, so we’d know. They’d show some numbers. They’d show projections would be going well and sales would be going great. But instead, all we get are generic, misleading “Ever since accepting Epic’s deal, Ubisoft latest game sold more than the previous one did on PC” statements, that don’t take into account things like the fact that most sales were made in Ubisoft’s own platform (which people are using precisely because they don’t like the EGS) and that sequels of popular games tend to sell more anyway.

          But I think the most telling evidence against Epic strategy is that Valve is doing nothing to counter it. They clearly don’t fear they are in any kind of danger, and they’ve been in the business longer than anyone else. Granted, they’re perfectly capable of making mistakes, but it’s obvious that if they’re reacting to this at all it’s slow and methodical, which will end up giving them the upper hand anyway.

        2. Chad Miller says:

          I don’t see how (2) follows? Unless I’m seriously misunderstanding what the minimum sales guarantee entails, Epic should only lose money if the game fails to sell enough copies to hit that minimum (low market share). If their market share were high enough that the minimum would be hit without an exclusive, then it’s the developers who are leaving money on the table. It’s only in the middle, where Epic has enough market share to hit the target minimum but only with an exclusivity deal that both parties turn an immediate profit.

          1. Geebs says:

            I think Epic is sponsoring moderately well known indies for the publicity / kudos, rather than as an actual money-making strategy. The guaranteed sales targets being quoted seem to be on the order of tens to hundreds of thousands of units.

            Most indie games, apart from the breakout hits, don’t make enough sales to pay the devs a proper wage for their work. The guarantees Epic is offering seem to be based on the number of sales the devs would need to make a decent profit, so the majority of the indie games Epic guarantees sales for will lose them money.

            i.e. the sales guarantees are a publicity stunt and only viable because of the Fortnite money. When Epic get big enough to compete with Steam, you can bet that the real profit is going to be coming from big AAA games and not quirky indies. Therefore, Epic continuing to court indies means they’re not making enough money from the bigger releases yet.

        3. shoeboxjeddy says:

          Points 4 and 5 do not follow. As an analogy, let’s say you’re doing a price deal to increase your market share, undercutting your competitors by 10%. And the GOAL is to gain 20% market share. In this analogy, Epic could be at 18 of their desired 20% already. You have no data, so saying that “the plan isn’t working” is just you pleasing yourself with meaningless noise. It could be working TREMENDOUSLY well, and they’re just not at the target yet. There could be a downsloping part of the plan, where they need to continue with certain measures to make sure their market share doesn’t just up and leave them when they end the measures that earned it for them. Etc. What you’re saying is “if the plan had worked, you would have already stopped using the plan” and it’s complete nonsense.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        I don’t think there was much of a backlash over Control, was there?

        That’s because Control’s Epic deal was taken by the same publishers from Outer Worlds (and revealed in the same press release), and that game had a much larger media presence, so people’s complaints were directed towards it.

  14. Ninety-Three says:

    Shamus: “Oh, you just don’t want to download a free thing” is just the perfect way to piss somebody off.

    But they didn’t say that! Their post goes on to list and address the two biggest reasons people generally give for disliking the Epic store! This is the perfect way to piss off someone who doesn’t read more than half the post. Admittedly that seems to describe a large portion of the internet so perhaps it was a failure of PR to not anticipate people’s refusal to engage in basic reading comprehension, but I find myself unexpectedly firmly on the side of the Ooblets dev with “everyone who is mad about this is extremely unreasonable”.

    There’s a delicious irony in angry people complaining that the Ooblets dev implied they were just looking for something to be angry about, when they’re Very Angry about the exclusivity of a game most of them had never heard of before.

    1. Geebs says:

      One of the first things you learn in basic social media training is that humour is subjective and doesn’t necessarily translate well within a close group of people, let alone a huge mix of people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

      Universally, the recommended approach to a humour backfire is to apologise and to acknowledge that the joke may not have been funny to the person who took offence.

      Even if your interpretation of a text is in keeping with what the authors intended, it doesn’t mean that somebody who read it a different way is wrong* if it’s been worded in a way which is open to more than one interpretation. Ambiguity is the responsibility of the author.

      * the racist trolls and people making death threats are, of course, extremely wrong.

    2. Shamus says:

      “But they didn’t say that!”

      They absolutely did. I even quoted it elsewhere in this thread. I highlighted it in bold.

      At any rate, I read it multiple times, so let’s dispense with the idea that nobody read it.

      You’re moving the goalposts. Previously in this thread you claimed they never said anything angering. Then a few people countered with several examples. You selected ONE of those examples, and are arguing that people shouldn’t get angry because that one example is (maybe) mitigated by later context.

      This doesn’t change the substance of my point about the tone of the article and its attempt to preemptively trivialize opposition.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        “Just” is important here. They indeed said people don’t want to download a free thing, but they didn’t say people “just” wanted that because further down they state what they believe are the core reasons people dislike the Epic Store, and even the angry people seem to agree that those are the reasons they dislike the Epic store.

        The goalposts haven’t moved at all, previously I said they did not insult their customers. Someone provided a quote stating it to be an insult and an explicit statement of X, I responded with why it wasn’t. There were two other quotes which I did not take to be meant as examples of insults because they seemed even less insulty, but I shall respond to them here.

        I get the appeal of wanting to seek out things to get angry about.

        This is the sentence immediately after “Feeling like you’re owed the product of other people’s work on your terms or else you’ll steal it is the epitome of that word “entitlement” that people use to discuss immature, toxic gamers.” It is characterizing the motivations of a specific group, not the audience in general. Despite this, it is entirely accurate, and I will believe otherwise as soon as I find a single angry person who was following Ooblets two weeks ago.

        So let’s remember that this is all low-stakes video game stuff we’re dealing with here. Nothing to get worked up about.

        “You shouldn’t get worked up about low-stakes videogame stuff” is a bad argument, but making bad arguments is distinct from insulting the consumers.

        If I had to summarize the announcement it would be “We took an Epic exclusivity deal because they have money. Also, we don’t think there are really good reasons to oppose Epic exclusivity, here is some snark, and here are some arguments.” To make sure this comments section isn’t some weird anomaly I went out and checked the wider internet, and 100% of angry people I’ve seen seem to be engaging with the snark in way that requires ignoring the presence of the actual arguments. “They implied there was no reason to oppose Epic!” cry the people overlooking the acknowledgement of EGS having less features, “All you had to do was say you wanted more money!” complain those who skipped the paragraphs on how much they like having more money, “How dare you call us entitled?” whargarbl randos angry about being told they are not owed a game.

        1. DHW says:

          > If I had to summarize the announcement it would be “We took an Epic exclusivity deal because they have money. Also, we don’t think there are really good reasons to oppose Epic exclusivity, here is some snark, and here are some arguments.” To make sure this comments section isn’t some weird anomaly I went out and checked the wider internet, and 100% of angry people I’ve seen seem to be engaging with the snark in way that requires ignoring the presence of the actual arguments.

          If in the middle of writing a reasoned argument that addressed your points in a civil, understanding manner I threw in an insult directed at your mother, I doubt you would shrug it off because it was surrounded by calm discussion. A drop of excrement in a barrel of wine, and all that.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            They didn’t insult your mother or anyone’s mother though. Your example is shit because you made up something that didn’t happen. “We don’t owe anyone a copy of the thing we made” is a fact, not an insult. “Certain people don’t have great reasons to hate Epic” is ALSO a fact and not an insult.

        2. Syal says:

          Have to agree with you, I think. The only part that really strikes me as insulting is the bit about worrying about bigger things like human rights abuses. The rest of it doesn’t seem too far off from the tone of their previous post. Might have just been caught out unexpectedly.

          But I’m assuming the July post was in anticipation of Epic backlash, as opposed to a response to it. As a response it’s pretty bad.

        3. Shamus says:

          “The goalposts haven’t moved at all, previously I said they did not insult their customers.”

          Like the Ooblets devs, you’re not leaving the opposition anywhere to stand. You’re claiming there’s NOTHING insulting about the post. Therefore everyone objecting to the tone must be doing so for some other, secret reason. Or in bad faith. Or because they’re toxic and evil.

          I honestly don’t know what to do here. You acknowledged that the tone is snarky. That snark is spent mocking counter-arguments. If you don’t see how that’s insulting then I think we’re at an impasse. The insult looks fairly brazen to me, but I can’t prove its insulting any more than I can prove a joke is funny.

          1. Syal says:

            I honestly don’t know what to do here.

            My suggestion would be a compare/contrast with their other monthly posts. It may have been a few years, but I know you’ve said a blog is like someone’s house; as such, you want to figure out the house rules, instead of expecting the house to follow town hall rules.

            1. Lino says:

              The “house rules” definitely applies to their Patreon-only posts. Whatever they write in their blog, however goes out to and is directed at the entire world, and they should tailor their messages with that in mind (after all, the main purpose of a company blog is to promote the company to the general public).

              1. Ander says:

                All true; I just keep saying it might be helpful to think of the devs as not having thought that way.

              2. Syal says:

                I don’t remember which video it was, but on a Starcraft video on Youtube there was a series of three comments; one comment complaining Protoss was underpowered, a parody post complaining Terran was underpowered, and another parody post complaining Zerg was underpowered. For reasons unknown, the Zerg post ended up as the top comment. Cue hundreds of comments shouting at the third guy for believing Zerg was underpowered because they weren;t willing to look at the context to see it was tongue-in-cheek. I blame the crowd for that. Ignoring context is bad form.

                From the couple of posts I’ve read, the Ooblets devs have used hyperbole and snark consistently in their posts. If they’re being held to a different standard than before, that’s on the crowd.

                1. Lino says:

                  Context cuts both ways, however. The majority of their blog posts are updates on the game – things that are only going to be read by their most passionate followers. However, an announcement as big as this, is probably going to be broadcasted by the media, and it’s probably going to be read by a lot of people outside their community.
                  Once I saw a GDC talk about PR for indie games, and the lecturer gave a very interesting analogy. You have three big “PR bullets” in your game’s life cycle:

                  – The announcement
                  – The first trailer
                  – The release of the game

                  All of these “bullets” refer to when the press are most likely cover your game, and from there – when your game is going to get the most traffic. An announcement such as “We’re going EGS exclusive” is very big news for the release of the game, so you should expect a lot of press when you make an announcement about that – especially if it’s the EGS we’re talking about – literally every game that’s announced that has received a lot of flak for it. If you do something like this, you should expect backlash.

                  Full disclosure – I don’t think any of the shit they’ve gotten is justified, but this is just one of the hot-button topics in gaming these days – if you play with the hornet’s nest, you should expect to get stung. Would I like it to stop being such an issue? Yes, definitely! Do I think that poking the hornet’s nest will solve that issue? No, unfortunately, I don’t

              3. shoeboxjeddy says:

                The blog isn’t “directed to the entire world”. It’s just able to be read by the entire world. If you published a zine and distributed it to 5 local coffee shops, it is true that someone could scan it and post it online for millions to see. That doesn’t mean it was ever “directed to the entire world.” That person probably had blog traffic under 10,000 until they posted this one entry. It’s not that the information was meant to be hidden, just that they were not intending to become the talk of the gaming world for the next month or so.

                1. Lino says:

                  I’ll just copy-paste the comment I made above yours.

                  The majority of their blog posts are updates on the game – things that are only going to be read by their most passionate followers. However, an announcement as big as this, is probably going to be broadcasted by the media, and it’s probably going to be read by a lot of people outside their community.
                  Once I saw a GDC talk about PR for indie games, and the lecturer gave a very interesting analogy. You have three big “PR bullets” in your game’s life cycle:

                  – The announcement
                  – The first trailer
                  – The release of the game

                  All of these “bullets” refer to when the press are most likely cover your game, and from there – when your game is going to get the most traffic. An announcement such as “We’re going EGS exclusive” is very big news for the release of the game, so you should expect a lot of press when you make an announcement about that – especially if it’s the EGS we’re talking about – literally every game that’s announced that has received a lot of flak for it. If you do something like this, you should expect backlash.

                  Full disclosure – I don’t think any of the shit they’ve gotten is justified, but this is just one of the hot-button topics in gaming these days – if you play with the hornet’s nest, you should expect to get stung. Would I like it to stop being such an issue? Yes, definitely! Do I think that poking the hornet’s nest will solve that issue? No, unfortunately, I don’t.

  15. Decius says:

    On the Borderlands 3 controversy links:
    Anyone who wants me to understand their point but their only platform is Youtube and they don’t have any related video needs to read their script at Zero Punctuation speeds.

    Anything less, and they’re not trying to communicate, they’re just padding their video to appeal to the algorithm that decides how much they’re paid.

    We’ve managed to completely automate monetizing the toxoplamsa of rage.

  16. Mom says:

    It was fun just hearing your voices and it was sort of like a visit where I was in a quiet mood and didn’t talk. That happened once, right? No? Well, if it had it would have been like this. Thanks.

  17. Joe says:

    Good to hear Heather again. She has a nice voice. Not surprising, most women have better voices than men.

    I love the other Borderlands games. Originally I was going to buy BL3 on day one. Then they went to Epic. Not surprising, and announced long enough in advance for me to cope. But the Steam release date is in April! Yes, right by CP2077 and Bloodlines 2. Well, maybe buy it then anyway. However, this isn’t the first controversy. With each one, I feel my desire fading. Maybe I’ll pick it up for $10 in a sale. But maybe I won’t at all.

    Shamus, you’re right to stay off Twitter. It got a recent redesign to remove functionality and make it look uglier. A move I don’t understand. If I could bring myself to quit, I would.

  18. AndrewCC says:

    I put Steam in the same category as UBER. Monolithic companies that use their market share to bully the people who work for them: Devs/Publishers for Steam, car drivers for UBER. Sure the customer gets a better deal, maybe, but the cost always comes from somewhere. Steam has been too big for too long, it needs to lose a LOT of its marketshare, and I pray that UBER does not manage to establish the monopoly it’s been spending all those billions on.

  19. Ivan says:

    Regarding SupMatto, I went to the ‘it gets worse’ link you posted, a lot of ppl (well, some) in the comments seem to think Take2 was at least somewhat justified in doing what they did, for various combinations of the following reasons.

    1. He was in the wrong for ‘leaking’ corporate secrets/copyrighted material.
    2. He ‘stole’ his material from Twich and/or Take2. What he did was illegal, basically.
    3. He resold the information privately via his Discord/Patreon.

    Now, at the time of those comments (of me reading and responding to them) I hadn’t actually listened to that section of the podcast, but having done so just now, #2 is flagrantly not the case if all the circumstances are as you describe.

    And, as for #3, I assumed that is basically the same legality as running a newspaper, with a subscription or other form of ‘pay to access’ payment model. Like, say, the London Times or some site, putting some articles behind premium membership, etc. I don’t actually know if that publication does that, I know at least one from the UK does, cos I got stopped by their paywall not too long ago, but I forget what specifically they were called. The point is, institutions that work that way currently exist, and I can’t really see where what they do is different from what SupMatto did, legally speaking. Is it not the same as that, legally?

    And, of course, #1 is the weakest of all. He wasn’t leaking anything, the best you can say is that, intentionally or otherwise, someone at Take2 or Gearbox was. But Supmatto doesn’t work for either of those companies, he signed no agreements with them (that I know of), ergo, he was neither in breach of contract, nor leaking. He acquired some information, and chose to publicise it, basically.

    As an addendum;
    I argued in some comment threads on that other video, that even if he did breach Twich’s security, that’s a matter between Twich and him, and another entirely separate matter between Take2 and Twich. As in, at no point should Take2 have any grounds for direct action against him. But that is my naive, childlike view of how legal systems shouldwork, and may not reflect how they actually work. And it certainly doesn’t reflect the way Youtube allows companies their own privilege within it’s system. Terry Pratchett tells me this word (privilege) means ‘private law’, so that’s why I’m going to use it here. But, yeah, can someone tell me if my thoughts on the legalities there are correct or not?

    1. Moridin says:

      With regards to #2, I’m fairly certain it’s not nearly as straightforward as you seem to think, legally speaking. The data clearly wasn’t MEANT to be public, by either Twitch or Take2, and if I understand this correctly, it’s not as if it was accessible from the twitch front page if you just click a combination of buttons on the website(in other words, they didn’t accidentally make it public – it’s just a case of improper security). You can blame them for not securing the data properly, sure, but just because someone accidentally leaves their front door unlocked doesn’t mean you’re allowed to just walk in and start taking pictures of their apartment.

      1. GargamelLenoir says:

        All the data he acquired may have not meant to be public, but it was. The thumbnail of a twitch account is public information. He didn’t hack or crack anything to get it. Your example is wrong, it would be more like you forgetting an important file on a public bench and someone looking at it out of curiosity. They didn’t steal it.

        1. Moridin says:

          But it’s NOT public. It’s not something you can accidentally stumble upon while searching Google, or while using Twitch as intended. You’re deliberately using the service in a way the developers didn’t intend for you to in order to access data you’re clearly not meant have access to. That’s not at all like just finding the file laying on a public bench. It isn’t even as if he ACCIDENTALLY did any of it and then proceeded to report it to twitch.

          I’ve been on a pen-testing course. Among the exercises was a website where you could log in as an admin by manipulating the url-string on your browser. Yes, that’s extremely shitty security. Doesn’t matter. If you do that on a real website without permission, you’re still in the wrong and can be prosecuted for it.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            You’re incorrect. He didn’t break the Twitch TOS to do what he did. And even if he did, that’s grounds for Twitch to ban him or whatever, Take 2 doesn’t have a say. If I break the rules of Facebook to insult CNN in an otherwise legal way, Facebook can punish me, but CNN should not be able to.

            1. Moridin says:

              I’m not arguing about whether he broke twitch TOS, I’m arguing about whether he broke the law. Whether Take2 can take any action against him due to that is an entirely different argument as well.

            2. Gautsu says:

              Libel or slander

              1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                What does this comment mean? This was the equivalent of posting someone’s marketing plan online early. That falls under neither libel, nor slander.

  20. Lino says:

    I loved having Heather as a guest – I’d love to hear her more often.

  21. Chaotic Neutral says:

    Funny you should mention Tumblr (and porn); a news story just broke that tumblr was sold to Autommation (?), the people that own WordPress (I think). What’s shocking about this story that it was reportedly sold for as little as 3 million dollars, down from the 1.1 billion dollars that Verizon bought it for. Now it’s impossible to confirm that price, as the deal was private and the partners have no legal reason to reveal that price (and no economical reason to admit to a business failure), but that’s apparently the number insiders are quoting/speculating.

    The background being, of course, that Tumblr banned all the porn in like 2017? This seems to have caused at the very least 30% drop in monthly views.

    All of this happened like 17 hours ago.

  22. Steve C says:

    Since I just got an email today about this data breach on the Roll20 site, is yet another example of an inadequate bullshit cover-their-ass response.

    Their PR statement was fine. They took the appropriate actions for themselves. Problem is I just learned about this breach today. It happened 6 months ago. They failed to send out an email until now. Roll20 can conveniently place all blame on the criminals with their refusal to state how the breach occurred. Roll20 could have left all the 4 million customer accounts in plain text just like the ESA.

    Companies act as though they are the wronged party in these data breaches. They aren’t. It is always their customer’s data that is stolen. The customers are the ones these breaches really affect. Totally unacceptable and the norm. There should be a law that fines the company directly and automatically when this sort of thing happens. The company was negligent.

  23. Steve C says:

    So Heather, what anime do you recommend from this season? I’ve dropped most and I’m looking for replacements.

  24. RFS-81 says:

    Shamus, couldn’t you make a Discord channel for YouTube viewers to contact you? Discord sounds like something that people who follow gaming channels on YouTube would use. Or has everyone stopped using it already? I have no clue.

    1. Lino says:

      I’ve heard him talk about making a Discord before. As far as I recall, he’s opposed to it, because it’ll have an unpredictable effect on the community. It might split the the people who comment on the site and forum, because some of them will migrate to Discord, and stop commenting here, while others will remain to comment here. This might split the community and lead to worse experience for both groups.
      Of course, that was his opinion quite some time ago. Things might have changed.

      1. RFS-81 says:

        The forum was taken down because of porn spam and isn’t back up yet. So if he’s ever going to do it, now is the time!

      2. Paul Spooner says:

        Discord is certainly still A Thing. It’s a bit difficult to know if it has largely displaced traditional forums at this point, but at least there’s the attractive option.

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