The first thing I saw when I got up this morning was a Kotaku article (Publishers Pull Their Games From Epic’s Store During Its Big Sale) about the sale I had written that evening myself. Their news was, well, not exactly as positive as my own, as indicated by their title.
Logically, it made sense though. They billed themselves as “the store that cared about developers” and if they did indeed launch this sale on short notice to foster goodwill with the consumer, then I could see where those developers might feel reasonably upset.
So the thing I didn’t notice or catch, that Kotaku reported, was that two games were removed and one had a price change. The individual details are a little more complicated, but at the moment, that’s the short version.
Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, a rather wordy title if you ask me, was removed shortly after the sale went live. People who got the sale price are still having their purchase honored, so that’s good. Paradox and Epic have since come to some manner of agreement regarding this situation, as I understood it.
They also reported that Oxygen Not Included was also removed, but has yet to be commented on. A curious development, to say the least.
Now, Hades, an ARPG similar to Bastion and Transistor and made by the same developer, had a sudden price increase. Since increasing prices to “compensate for a sale” is a bit frowned upon as being deceptive this gained some attention. It was also compounded by the fact that Supergiant Games had previously stated they would make consumers aware of any price increases ahead of time. This obviously didn’t happen.
What I’m seeing reported seems to indicate that they were planning to do a price increase but had not yet announced it. When this sale hit, dropping the purchase price, they had a moment of panic and pulled the trigger without telling anybody. It would appear that they have since apologized and dropped the price back down for the time being.
The unstated premise that I’m curious about though is how all this is being handled behind the scenes. At least some of these discounts, like the $10 off everything above $15, are characterized as “on us.” This implies that Epic Games is actually eating the difference and still paying the developers as though the game were purchased at its normal price. That would truly be a great thing for both consumer and developer, and not at all how I imagine this sort of thing typically works. I’ve always assumed that both parties receive their respective cut at the lower price, which would explain why Supergiant would panic when something you were selling for $20 is now suddenly $10 against your will. A far cry from the standard retail market where goods are purchased from the producer at wholesale and then marked up.
I was curious, so I tweeted the question at them, for lack of a better avenue to contact them. I also thought better of is and emailed their PR address as well.
[Update: I did, in fact, receive a reply indicating that this is the case. Good on them.]
Y’all take care, I’ll find something else to talk about tomorrow.