It seems a bit obvious to say, but my interviews with independent developers are almost always refreshingly candid and detailed compared to chats with representatives of massive gaming companies. It's understandable why. Big companies have corporate secrets to protect from other organizations with the money and power to not just copy their ideas, but one-up them into irrelevancy. But among indies, there seems to be a mutual understanding that sharing deep details of "how they did it" will uplift the community at minimal harm to the person who divulged a particular marketing tactic.
Talking openly about strategy may not harm indie developers (hence why several do in our column this week), but we open with something that actually does—an ongoing issue with illegally sold codes on G2A. There's also a look at this week's PR gaffe of note, a harsh reminder that it isn't just triple-A CEOs and official social media accounts who can get things terribly, terribly wrong.
And of course, we're still talking about the Epic Games Store which, aside from putting its Fortnite money to use buying exclusives, making deep discount sales feasible, and acquiring companies, is now also footing the refund bill for Kickstarter games that switch from Steam to its service and upset a lot of Steam customers. Seems like as good a time as any to recall that while all of this is fantastic for the developers making the games sold on its store, that Fortnite money came at a high human cost.
QUOTE | "Please, if you're going to buy a game from G2A, just pirate it instead. Genuinely. Devs don't see a penny either way, so we're much rather G2A didn't see money either." - The week started with No More Robots founder Mike Rose's observation that G2A had paid for sponsored ads on Google, but that developers don't make any money on their games when they're bought through G2A. His tweet gained enough traction that he later claimed G2A had arranged for its sponsored streamers to "explain why they're not evil."
QUOTE | "G2A do not care about the people who make games, no matter what spin they keep frothing out. Do not fall for it. Plenty of devs have tried to reason with them, but they are no to be reasoned with."- That's Mike Rose again today, starting a petition calling for G2A to drop all indie titles from its service. The petition has over 1,000 signatures at the time this piece was written.
QUOTE | "We're not doing this because we're the ones to blame, but because we want to finally stop the accusations we've been getting from some devs. The alleged frauds didn't happen in our ecosystem, but on their own stores. Thieves could've sold these keys anywhere. But if they chose G2A, we're ready to make up for it." - G2A's response to Rose's allegations and petition was a lengthy defense breaking down its business model, sharing how it was addressing the accusations, and promising to "pay developers ten times the money they lost" on chargebacks for illegally-obtained keys... if the developers can prove the exchange happened through their storefront.
QUOTE "There are ways of getting into E3, but they're all these labyrinthine, backroom things that depend on knowing the right person, having a publisher, or working with a platform. But [Kinda Funny] was something I could do." - Founder of Glass Bottom Games Megan Fox launched the Kickstarter for Skatebird during E3 2019, which has now reached well over her funding goal. She attributes that in part to the game's showcase appearance as a new avenue for indies to make the most of E3.
QUOTE | "When people look at the Steam page, they're probably not going to watch the trailer right away. The first thing they're going to see is a tiny little preview of a screenshot and if that looks intriguing, maybe they'll click that and that screenshot better fucking sell the game right away." - Zach Barth explains how his studio Zachtronics went from The Codex of Alchemical Engineering, which could export solutions in text files to the smooth, GIF-able Opus Magnum. Both games, along with everything Zachtronics has made, are being given away free to schools.
QUOTE | "First and foremost, Triternion does not, nor have we ever, had plans to add a customization option that would force a white male default." - After an interview earlier this week in which two Triternion developers described an idea for an option to effectively "turn off" gender and ethnic diversity in Mordhau whenever the game got around to adding those customizations, Triternion had to clarify that what the developers said was misleading and that such a switch was never going to be a feature.
QUOTE | "I think the 70/30 revenue split is outrageous. I think the platform holders are taking too much money. Everyone in the press here, just quote me on that."- Speaking at Gamelab, Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester praised the Epic Games Store's 88/12 revenue split as a far more reasonable alternative to Steam.
QUOTE | "Are we listening to people who 'BLURG BLARGH GREEDY BASTARDS DLC BAD OOGA BOOGA'? No." - That is also Wester, though this time he's defending against criticisms of how the company approaches DLC, saying the premium model "helps to finance the further development of the game, which is of gain for all players."
QUOTE | "When future games go Epic-exclusive after offering crowdfunding rewards on other PC stores, we'll either coordinate with colleagues at the other stores to ensure key availability in advance, or guarantee refunds at announcement time." - Epic's Tim Sweeney follows up the news that Ys Net will offer refunds to PC backers disappointed that the game has gone Epic-exclusive by saying Epic is footing the bill for said refunds. Not only that, he promises the company will do so for any similar scenarios in the future.
QUOTE | "We knew [the market] would be absolutely saturated with battle royales, everyone would be pushing battle royales, so I told the team, 'Whatever you throw at me, don't make it battle royale,' And then Joe [Walsh, senior game designer] came to me and said, 'Look, it's a battle royale, but...'" - Jeff Tanton, Mediatonic creative director for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, describes the game's twist on the genre as a competitive interaction for players that isn't conducive to toxicity.
QUOTE | "25 years at EA and I still struggle with the external perception that we're just a bunch of bad guys. We love making and playing games. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes on games, the world knows about it because it's of a size and scale." - The EVP of strategic growth at EA, Matt Bilbey, shares his optimistic opinion of EA's business, a view that leans heavily on its support for indies in the EA Originals program and the company's focus on subscription services.
QUOTE | "I think that cloud gaming will become more widespread in the future, but I have no doubt that there will continue to be games that are fun because they are running locally and not on the cloud." - Speaking to investors, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto says the company isn't falling behind in either VR or network services, but prefers to keep its innovations quiet until it is ready to release a product.