Epic Games may be courting a lot of exclusives to its platform, but indie games from studios like Witch Beam Games aren’t on the list. Witch Beams’ Assault Android Cactus may not have been a huge seller, but it’s a recognizable name in the indie sector following its release back in September, 2015 on Steam for PC, followed by subsequent console releases on the PS4 and Xbox One where it was rated E10+ by the ESRB. But in the eyes of Epic it’s an indie game that’s apparently not good enough for the Epic Games Store.
The news was discovered by gamers who came across tweets by Witch Beam Games designer, Sanatana Mishra, that were posted on March 29th, 2019. Unfortunately the tweets have now been deleted. Before the tweets were removed, Mishra’s rant made it over into a thread on /r/Games/, but then the thread was later deleted. Thankfully, another user over on the /r/PCGaming thread going by the handle of cloudsheep0 managed to catalog all of the tweets in chronological order, and posted them up in a comment. You can read Mishra’s full thoughts on the matter below…
“I love the truth in this take, this whole thread. The cycle of indies decrying the gold rush of Steam where some random person liking your game made you a millionaire to the current climate with Epic Games is pretty bonkers, but people gotta eat so it is what it is.
“Also In regards to that last tweet, and Epics view of the cream rising to the top, AAC+ has an 87 on metacritic right now. They weren’t interested when I filled out their questionnaire and suggested I get back to them in a year or something.
“A ‘good’ game is totally in the eye of the beholder anyway, plenty of games largely decried as being shit have outsold games people hold in high regard. This is why random people picking winners with ridiculous criteria and an absurd meritocracy goal is bad.
“I guess it is sort of appropriate that Epic are taking the exact same view Valve had in 2003 when they launched Steam, since the EGS has about that level of Steam’s feature set. Kinda wish they would have learned from any of the stuff Valve had to learn over the last 16 years
“None of what I’m saying here means I think Valve is perfect, or even particularly great at what they’re doing now. Steam and discovery is a dense and complex problem that tbh I have no Idea how to solve, but at least they’re pointed in the right direction for creators and users.
“I’m not sure people understand how insanely stressful life was when Steam had the same approach to curation that Epic has now, the day we won an Intel Level Up award and got guaranteed access to steam as a bonus was fucking huge for Witch Beam, we were absolutely terrified.
“To follow up for people retweeting this part of my rant, I’m not whinging to get special treatment, I just think it’s important to point out how bad taking the approach Valve did 16 years ago is.
“Yesterday I was tweeting about how it’s OK for developers to take Epic’s money and improve their lives & their games, today I am the people’s champ of the epic haters. As always, issues are complex. My biggest EGS gripe is that they don’t seem to have a plan beyond Steam 2003.”
Personally, I always found the Greenlight method to be one of the better methods, since developers had direct connection with gamers after paying the $100 fee and gamers could tell them whether or not the game sucked or if they would buy it if it made it to Steam. It was harsh, but also brutally honest. It also removed Valve from being a middle-man to ban games like what they’re doing now, since the power of curation was put into the hands of the people.
Epic Games now has a similar curation process, but even more rigid than Valve’s. As Mishra brought out, it’s the old method Valve used before Greenlight was instituted. This means that there’s no way to know if your game is a good fit for the Epic Games Store until you get accepted… or in the case of Assault Android Cactus, rejected.
Following the blow-up on Reddit and the typical consternation that followed on Twitter, Mishra came back with two tweets to attempt to smooth things over with a hint of nuance.
Special shoutout to all the people accusing me of being a hypocrite or attempting to get a bag of Epic’s money because while I pointed out the issues with ‘meritocracy’ style curation nonsense I also said I don’t hold it against devs for taking money to improve their lives.
— Sanatana Mishra (@SanatanaMishra) March 30, 2019
I don’t think this particular case will deter all of the supporters from the Epic Games Store, but it will certainly embolden the haters, especially on the indie developers’ side.
Epic isn’t really doing themselves any favors by poaching exclusives from Steam and then offering less as an overall service to consumers. As Mishra pointed out, it’s also not much of a boon for the indie sector either since if you’re not in the in crowd and don’t have connections, your game – even if it’s already available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One – likely won’t be making it onto the Epic Games Store.
While game journalists have been itching for a censorship heavy storefront like Epic Games Store to come along, it’s funny that we get to see how this kind of tight curation doesn’t really give gamers much choice in what they get to play and it certainly doesn’t give indie devs much of a visibly alternative storefront to Steam.
(Thanks for the news tip nihilistic gamer)