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‘Phoenix Point’ Switches to Epic Store Exclusive, Causing Mass Demand for Refunds

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  • 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.

 

 

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  1. Startibartfast on March 14, 2019 at 10:21 am said

    On the bright side, Steam and GOG users will be able to enjoy the full game + 1st Year DLC after its been beta-tested by Epic for a full year.

  2. This headline, among other headlines referencing Epic games “exclusives” should read “timed excluvises”, as just using “exclusive” is misleading since the game is coming to Steam next year (and most likely GOG as well since it was offered to backers)

    I think so far only Satisfactory is truly an Epic “eclusive” exclusive?

  3. shame, shame

  4. What a stupid choice, this doesn’t just hurt snapshot, this also hurts the epic store. I for one get more annoyed every time I hear of a deal like this. They have every right to do it, I also have every right to stubbornly refuse to use their store which I will be exercising going forward.

  5. Chromatism on March 14, 2019 at 1:51 pm said

    Oh well. If I remember that this exists, I’ll be seeing it a year after launch.

    • Why wait a full year after launch? A day after launch Pirate Bays will have it cracked and ready to go. Not only will you get the game but it has the added bonus that Gollop nor Epic get a dime from your enjoyment.

  6. Allan Doty on March 14, 2019 at 2:43 pm said

    Was planning on checking it out after it’s exclusivity ended, but no more. You can only take so much anti consumer action before I no longer purchase your products.

  7. The situation is indeed absurd. People supported this project to get the game on their desired marketplace be that Steam or GOG and spitting in their faces for an exclusivity deal is quite scummy.

    This is nothing new for crowdfunding projects though. Developers are often dropping promised platforms and ports after they got the money. The cited comment from Spinecone perfectly described the crowdfunding system and some of the issues with it.

  8. BrigandBoy on March 14, 2019 at 5:33 pm said

    Now it makes sense why they won’t put reviews or forums on the Epic store.

    Imagine for a moment that the Epic store is a different habitat of consumers. Imagine that, as we can plainly see, there is very little cross-over from other platforms to the Epic store. Those who use steam or GOG and see the anti-consumer shit from Epic are unlikely to want to use the Epic store.

    So the people who use the Epic store who aren’t in the know… how will they ever know that Epic is essentially screwing over gamers in order to “compete” with steam? The answer is, without them seeking out information themselves, they won’t.

    To hell with Epic. And to hell with Gollop.

  9. Kiran Yagami on March 14, 2019 at 6:08 pm said

    How many times does it have to be said? NEVER PREORDER ANYTHING. Don’t buy into early access. Don’t “back” a game that looks like it might be cool when it’s finished. Do not give your money to a company that does not have a product to give you in return. Preordering is cancer. Early access is cancer. It is a system that rewards gaming developers and publishers for doing NOTHING. They should be the ones impressing you. They should be the ones offering free things to YOU. Not the other way around. The onus is on them to perform. They give you a stellar game, you give them money. If they do not have a stellar game to put in your hands at the exact second you present your wallet, then you do not present your wallet at all. Gaming companies have no loyalty to you. You must treat them the same.

    • Pre-Orders I can totally agree with. Early Access is a risk you can take if you weigh the options. Plus have the cash.

      However I totally disagree with crowdfunding. Crowdfunding has made some great game that didnt even have the chance to get of the ground. However it is a risk. So you have to go in understanding it,

    • Nicely put. All the things you mentioned are essentially giving the developer money before they deliver anything to you.

  10. Funny thing is, I don’t think people will be interested/hyped enough for the game 1 year after release to buy it on Steam. I certainly won’t, at least not full price.
    Epic must have given them a retardedly huge check.

    So sad to see Gollop and team side with corporations, instead of the users that made the game possible in the first place…

  11. Dreadjaws on March 14, 2019 at 7:54 pm said

    Isn’t the entire point of crowdfunding to get away from all these stupid issues with publishers and having to make deals with stores? Instead, it looks like this was a bait and switch farce, and he only used crowdfunding as a stepping stone to be able to secure a better deal later.

    This guy made sure he will never get a successful crowdfunding campaign again.

    • Crowdfunding doesn’t guarantee lack of publisher involvement. In fact most high profile projects get a publisher right after the campaign is done.

  12. GrimRiegn on March 14, 2019 at 9:15 pm said

    This is sad!

  13. I would be *livid* if I had backed this. Are there any opportunities for the backers to file a class-action lawsuit, I wonder?

  14. I can wait a year for Metro and Phoenix Point… the one that will hurt waiting on will be Borderlands 3.

    Sure I could install the Epic Launcher and play these games however I do not like just how anti consumer these exclusive deals are for gamers and refuse to support it.

  15. I wonder if they will have the nerve to charge FULL PRICE one year down the line? With these dirty profiteering gluttons, i wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Got to please those shareholders after all… That’s the bottom line.

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