Mobius Digital announced on May 10th, 2019 that the crowdfunded sci-fi adventure game, Outer Wilds, which was funded to the tune of $126,000, would be a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store as well as releasing on the Xbox One. They also mentioned that additional platforms would be “coming later”.
The news was first rolled out over on the Fig.co page, where Mobius explained…
“Outer Wilds will first be released on XBox One and on PC via the Epic Games Store, with additional platforms coming later. Rest assured that we read all of your comments and our goal is to bring the game to your preferred platform as quickly as possible. We will keep you up to date with the latest info here.
“Throughout the development of the game, we’ve welcomed helpful partnerships with Annapurna Interactive, XBox, and Epic to support us and keep our small studio running long enough to ship the game at the level of quality that it is today. Each of these partnerships has enabled us to make the game better and more accessible for everyone who will play it.”
They don’t mention how long the exclusivity deal is for, but typically Epic has shuffled around millions for 12-months of exclusivity for specific games. In Borderlands 3‘s case, the timed exclusivity is only for six months.
The backers were not at all pleased with this turn of events, and made their voices heard in both the comment section and on social media.
In fact, the very first comment on the announcement page from GunslingerBara called out the deal as “really crappy”, with GunslingerBara writing…
“Very disappointed with Epic exclusivity. I’ve been looking forward to this game since that public beta demo released years and years ago. As one of your earliest fans, that I have to wait even longer to play on my platform of choice. If this was made clear when I was choosing to back this game, that’s one thing, but changing it up so close to being done?”
This was a sentiment echoed by almost everyone in the comment section, who called out Mobius Digital for stabbing their backers in the back.
Bryn P., held nothing back, writing…
“Way to your original backers who pledge for a steam key guys.
Hope sucking on Epics nice juicy teat is worth it. You won’t ever get another penny from me for any games you make in the future. Nice one.”
Jesse C., was less worried about articulating any sort of retort and more about laying down the gauntlet by saying that if the game is delayed for more than a few months he would be seeking a refund…
“That is deeply disappointing. If the delay for a Steam release of more than a few months, I think I’ll have to seek a refund.”
This line of thinking wasn’t limited to the Fig comment section, though. Backers of the game were also expressing the same level disgust over the dis-earnest way in which the game became an Epic Games Store timed exclusive.
Over on the Outer Wilds sub-reddit, RMJ1984 explained that they were seeking a refund or potential legal action.
RMJ1984 wasn’t alone in wanting a refund.
The original topic creator, daear also offered a suggestion on how to file for a refund, writing…
“[…] I have requested a refund for my pledge directly from Fig. I don’t know if they will grant it, seeing as how it was made in 2015. You can do the same by filling out the form: Fig.co pledge request refund.”
What makes this so funny is that a user predicted this outcome months ago and tried to warn users about the timed exclusivity on the Epic Games Store. He chronicled his prediction over on /r/PCGaming/ noting that the developers even deleted his thread to quell some of the eventual backlash they would incur.
“There are always some signs if a game comes out exclusively on the Epic Games Store. It usually begins with the developers not doing any community updates anymore and changing the Release Date to TBD. The same thing happened with The Outer Wilds a few weeks ago and since the Epic Games Store was launched in December there was also an Outer Wilds Store Page up.
“So I made a thread in the Steam Community Hub in March with the title: “The Outer Worlds will probably be an Epic Games Store exclusive”. After only a few comments from people who didn’t really believe it they deleted the thread without any comments.”
This isn’t the first time that a game was crowdfunded and then at the twelfth hour was made an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC after originally having Steam on the slate. Phoenix Point was another infamous example of Epic grabbing the exclusivity rights, which sent the backers into a frenzy.
Epic Games has been on a tear lately acquiring timed exclusivity for a number of highly anticipated titles. So they haven’t been generating a lot of good will among those who don’t want to use the service due to privacy concerns or lack of usability, or lack of pro-consumer options and quality-of-life features.
Regardless of what people think about the Epic Games Store, Mobius Digital decided to take the exclusivity offer for the Outer Wilds.
(Thanks for the news tip KIA)