Glumberland’s Ben Wasser has detailed some of the thousands of hateful messages the developer received after announcing Ooblets’ Epic Games Store exclusivity. The Ooblets developer harassment included many threats of violence, calls for suicide, and racial, ethnic, and homophobic slurs, according to screen shots of messages provided by Wasser.
Wasser published these examples of the harassment, along with a lengthy response to them, in a Medium post today. The messages Wasser showed include language like, “swallow bleach,” “you are going to get your face smashed in,” and “I hope your wife leaves you,” among far more graphic threats and accusations of Glumberland “disrespecting PC gamers.” Wasser said many of those who jumped on the harassment campaign had never even heard of the game and knew nothing about its crowdfunded origins. Ooblets was funded by Patreon before the Epic Games Store timed exclusivity deal, and game keys were not promised in its Patreon funding tiers. However, Wasser said many people have been messaging Glumberland to ask if Patreon supporters will still be getting Steam keys. Wasser suggested those who sent these messages might be “just trying to cover their undue entitlement in the trappings of concern on behalf of patrons.”
A significant portion of Wasser’s Ooblets developer harassment post concerned the “strange relationship” certain parts of the game community have with developers. While many harassers have told Glumberland how it must treat potential consumers in a certain way, Wasser argued that he doesn’t owe them anything. He pointed out the irony in the fact that harassers who haven’t yet paid for the game (or even contributed to its Patreon) are upset that Wasser has called harassers entitled, as if the word was “a meaningless insult [Wasser] was throwing around.”
“I think their extreme passion for games has made them perceive the people who provide those games as some sort of mystical ‘other,’” Wasser said, “an outgroup that’s held to a whole set of weird expectations. These folks believe they hold the magic power of the wallet over developers who should cower before them and capitulate to any of their demands. You can see this evidenced by the massive number of angry people threatening to pirate our game in retaliation to any perceived slight.”
Wasser attributed some of the flood of harassment to his direct engagement in the initial exclusivity announcement with those who actively hate the idea of Epic Games Store exclusivity, especially given that the intended tongue-in-cheek tone of the announcement (which suggested gamers find something “more worthwhile to be upset about”) was seen as condescending.
“I mistakenly thought I could have some impact on their opinions and emotions and defuse the situation with some lighthearted criticism of the main things that drove them to attack people,” Wasser said. “You can see how well that went.”
In response to arguments saying that the hateful response was essentially Glumberland’s fault, Wasser argued that such logic implies a developer saying anything disagreeable is cause for the internet trying to ruin their life.
“Either that,” Wasser added, “or our role as two people who had the nerve to make a video game made us valid targets in their minds.”
Still, Wasser said his subsequent engagement with those who harassed Glumberland was “very foolish,” as it led to people taking his comments out of context (and even outright fabricating some comments). He also directly noted the fact that his Medium post is, “by design,” not an apology, and he is instead standing behind his belief that “a portion of the gaming community is indeed horrendously toxic.” Wasser concluded his post by thanking Epic, who he said has been supporting Glumberland throughout the entirety of the Ooblets developer harassment, which proved to him that he and his wife made the right call.
High-profile Epic Games Store exclusivity deals have been common since the service launched. Epic gives developers deals they often can’t resist — especially small indie teams like Glumberland. Epic offered to cover Ooblets’ deficit if it doesn’t reach the sales target it would ideally reach if sold on more than one storefront, and this de facto sales guarantee should allow the developer to begin adding more content. Still many in the PC gaming community vocally oppose the Epic Games Store due to its current lack of features common on other platforms, such as cloud saves or a cart.