When the upcoming indie life-sim Ooblets announced that they would be going Epic exclusive, an all-too-familiar cry of anger could be heard. With so many new games announcing their Epic Games Store exclusive release for PC, be it for a period of time or on a more permanent basis, fans have increasingly shared their outrage on all forms of social media. Once the news broke, Ooblets developers were hit, and hard, by the hatred, harassment, and abuse.
The game is described on the Ooblets website as “Harvest Moon meets Pokémon meets Animal Crossing,” and has been in development since 2016 by Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasser. Originally slated to work with publisher Double Fine, the duo decided to self publish after Microsoft’s acquisition of Double Fine and recently announced their plans to go Epic exclusive for their PC release. The blog post even specifically mentioned the recent backlash surrounding games and their developers going Epic exclusive. “I get the appeal of wanting to seek out things to get angry about. Venting anger is cathartic and natural, but let’s have just a little perspective about what we decide to get angry about.”
Gotta quickly address the faked screenshot going around of me supposedly saying “gamers would be better off in gas chambers”. Obviously never said that, and as a Jewish person, this one really hurt to see being spread around.
It’d help if you could report people spreading it.
— perplamps (@perplamps) August 3, 2019
Ben Wasser, the game’s writer and designer, responded on Twitter to a screenshot of a non-existent quote from him saying, “gamers would be better off in gas chambers.” Wasser, who is Jewish, said that he was hurt that something like that would spread. Epic has also stepped up to the podium to condemn the harassment that the Ooblets developers, as well as all those who have gone exclusive with them, have received.
The announcement of Ooblets highlighted a disturbing trend which is growing and undermining healthy public discourse, and that’s the coordinated and deliberate creation and promotion of false information, including fake screenshots, videos, and technical analysis, accompanied by harassment of partners, promotion of hateful themes, and intimidation of those with opposing views.
Epic continued that their goal, to create a “healthier and more competitive multi-store world for the future,” would continue. Epic pledges their support to their partners in the face of such abuse, and “advocate[s] for healthy, truthful discussion about the games business.”
Ooblets currently does not have a concrete release date but will be available on Xbox One and PC through the Epic Games Store.