[SVS] The Epic Mega Sale: What Went Wrong?

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How’s it going everybody, Adrian Simple here from The Gaming Observer, and for today’s Sunday Variety Show, we’re going to take a look at the latest Epic Mega Sale. You see, there’s a lot to unpack past the simple act of putting the games on sale, and we should definitely be looking at that more critically. If you’d like a visual aid to today’s show, be sure to check out Youtube.com/TheGamingObserver. Let’s jump into it.

So obviously I should fill you in on what the whole kerfufle has been. You see, Epic Games decided “hey, we want even more people coming to our platform, let’s put on a sale”. Now, not only are publishers independently putting their games on sale, Epic is also provided a $10 discount on any game above $15, out of their own pocket. For example, Metro Exodus is originally $50, the publisher put it on sale for $38, and Epic has put a price tag of $28 on it.

There’s been some hiccups in this process though. Only shortly after the sale began, Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 vanished from the store. Some people managed to get it preordered with the $10 discount before it disspeared though. Shortly after that, Oxygen Not Included was taken off as well. Now, there’s no official reason why these games actually went away. Epic has said this, quote “If a developer or publisher chooses to not participate in our sales, we will honor that decision…Paradox Interactive has chosen not to participate.” endquote. Only a few hours before recording this, 2K also pulled Borderlands 3 from the store, which will apparently be returning soon.

Another growing pain they had came from Supergiant Games and Hades. Their $20 game was given a mistake discount. With Epic’s $10 adding on, you were able to pick it up for $7 which is insanely cheap. But then, not only did they correct the discount, they increased the base price to $25 dollars. Turns out that they were planning on doing that for a long time, but they rashly changed it with the chaos of the sale. People were upset that it wasn’t communicated farther in advance, so now it has returned to $20, and will stay there until the whole Mega Sale is over.

Ok, so by now you must be wondering, what the heck is up with these publishers and why is everything going nuts. Well, officially, we don’t know. But lots of people are making reasonable assumptions based on something Director of publishing strategy Sergey Galyonkin has said. Basically, he thought Paradox was aware of how they were selling Vampire Bloodlines 2, with the $10 Epic discount, but apparently they didn’t. So we can pretty much guess that publishers think their game will be devalued for being sold cheaper, even if they are receiving the same amount of money. Emma Kent from Eurogamer puts it nicely, “Discounts are often used to extend a game’s sales well past release, so dropping the price this soon gives publishers littel room for deeper discounts further along the line.” This idea is furthed nudged by the fact that the front page of the store no longer displays the Epic discount, in order to better represent the discount that publishers are offering.

Isn’t this whole situation fascinating? Think about this from Epic’s perspective. They obviously make a lot of their decisions based on making video games better, they do a lot of funding, a lot of public speaking, etc. And this sale was part of that, right, I truly believe that they had the best intentions for everyone involved in this situation. Plus they have the added bonus of getting more customers on the store, which is why they’re putting their own money into it. On paper, it seems good for business, good for publishers, good for customers. And then this happened. A PR nightmare.

And it really makes me wonder how we got to this situation. Did it just never cross Epic’s mind that publishers would take issue with the $10 discount? Or if they did, was it miscommunicated? I’m sure that there are some developers in this sale that are more than happy to give consumers a free discount while they retain the same amount of money, but is it all worth it if just a few are not? And the last thing I wonder is, will this ruin some relationships? Paradox and 2K have exclusivity with Epic, and while I don’t think it’s going to stop any current contracts, it might have some long-term impact. I doubt it, but its possible, because there’s a lot of money being earned right now.

Thank you very much for tuning in to today’s Sunday Variety Show. For a bunch of links for for more reading you can check out the website, thegamingobserver.com. You can also check out my Youtube channel for even more content. That’ll be all for today, thank you very much for tuning in, thank you to Brandon for supporting the show through Patreon, and until next time…Happy Gaming everyone.

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