‘Phoenix Point’ Switches to Epic Store Exclusive, Causing Mass Demand for Refunds
- Snapshot Games breaks promise to bring ‘Phoenix Point’ to Steam and GOG
- Exclusivity deal estimated to be over $2 million
- Enormous backlash on Reddit AMA
- Chinese backers unable to play for one year
Three years ago, the designer of the original X-COM series, Jullian Gollop, first announced Phoenix Point, a game of “turn-based tactics, world-based strategy, and a terrifying alien menace.” One year later, he took to YouTube, asking for crowdfunding through fig.co so that Phoenix Point could be “one of the greatest strategy games ever made.”
The initial target was $500,000. Within less than a week, Phoenix Point had raised that amount. By the end of its campaign, it accumulated $938,077 on fig.co alone. After the campaign had ended, however, Phoenix Point gained an additional $1.2 million from pre-orders, bringing the total funds raised to $2,154,262
Needless to say, community support for Phoenix Point was overwhelming, and the project would never have reached where it is today without that support.
On the fig.co campaign FAQ, the first two questions were listed as follows: Will the game be on Steam? Will the game be on gog.com? The answer to both these questions was “yes, and we will provide keys for backers who want to receive their game this way.” This promise remained intact for two years, until March 11th 2019, when Gollop released the following video on YouTube:
In it, he can be seen calmly reading from a teleprompter and informing backers of the game that Phoenix Point will now be an Epic Store exclusive title for the first year of its launch. He promised backers who did not ask for refunds that they would be given an entire year’s worth of upcoming DLC for free. He also promised to host an AMA on the official Phoenix Point subreddit the following day.
But the official subreddit was not in a welcoming mood after hearing the news, and memes like the ones below quickly began cluttering the front page. Even now, the entire front page is dominated by negative sentiment toward Gollop. Here are a few of the current post titles at the time of this writing:
“The fundamental issue is that without its backers, Snapshot would not have had a product to sell out to Epic in the first place.”
“This will only hurt future games on crowdfunding more.”
“At least those who already bought metro could still play it on steam.”
“When can we expect ‘toxic gamers’ narrative coming from Gollop?”
In the AMA, it was revealed that Gollop was the one to approach Epic Games, looking for a deal. Backers of the project in China—where the Epic Store isn’t accessible—will be completely unable to play the game. And those that contributed to the fig.co campaign will have to use a third-party, TransferWise, to get their refunds.
When Gollop attempted to reassure his former backers of the trustworthiness of TransferWise, he referenced their Trustpilot rating of five stars. In response to this, redditor Shakiko asked “If that Trustpilot rating is supposed to ensure us stability and trust… why did you guys chose to partner with Epic in the first place? Their rating is one of the most atrocious ones on the same website you just cited.” Shakiko got two golds and a silver for that comment.
It was also revealed on the Phoenix Point Discord that Snapshot Games was aware of the backlash they would face for their decision, but even if every single person who had initially backed the project requested a refund, they would still be “in the black.”
Redditor Spinecone’s top-rated comment in the discussion about this particular quote reads as follows: “I think what makes this particularly galling is how they basically used us backers for an interest-free loan. They took our money, developed to the point where it was mature enough to attract external investors, then totally changed the game plan and fully expect us to withdraw our cash, since they’re now out of the high-risk phase of the project that nobody but us actual fans would back and have a mature product that’s been guaranteed external funding.”
Given that the total amount raised from crowdfunding and preorders came to $2,154,262, this gives us some idea of how lucrative an exclusive deal with Epic must be. In a discussion on RPG Codex, further evidence from the Phoenix Point Discord was presented to suggest that this deal may have come in the form of guaranteed sales, rather than straight up cash. Whatever the case, like Wired Productions, Snapshot Games simply couldn’t resist.