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MechWarrior 5 developer: only 700 refunds of 20 000 pre-orders

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On July 25, Piranha Games announced that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries would be an Epic Games Store exclusive, and that it would fully refund fans angered by the move from Valve’s Steam platform. That same day, studio president Russ Bullock did an ask-me-anything (AMA) live with fans. The audio of that conversation, released July 29 as a podcast, provides a revealing look into the independent studio’s decision to sign a one-year exclusivity agreement with Epic Games.

Bullock gave multiple reasons for the exclusivity agreement. Chief among them was the amount of exposure that MechWarrior 5 would get on the front page of the Epic Games Store as compared to Steam.

“It’s a good platform,” Bullock said, referring to Steam. “But, as we’ve done our updates and our little exposure rounds that they provide [for MechWarrior Online], what I’ve found is the critical mass [of other new games being released] is just so heavy over there that ... after a patch or something ... 10 hours later it’s done and you’re buried again. So that was a concern for us and, I think, it’s a growing concern for a lot of smaller developers.”

By contrast, Bullock said his team expects to be in front of Epic Games Store customers for a full month or more after his game comes out. Additionally, he cited the increased volume of new users that will he expects will be adopting the platform for Borderlands 3, which will be releasing exclusively on the Epic Games Store around the same time as MechWarrior 5.

The goal, he said, is to sell at least 1 million copies of MechWarrior 5. Given what he knows about the sales of Harebrained Schemes’ BattleTech and other games in the same genre, he believes that’s entirely possible. Moreover, he feels it’s especially possible on the Epic Games Store.

Beyond the marketing, there was clearly a profit margins motivation for Bullock and the team at Piranha. Selling through Steam would have given away 5% of revenues to Epic Games for use of its Unreal Engine and then another 30% to Valve. Meanwhile, on the Epic Games Store, his team will only owe Epic 12% in total. For a game already being developed under license, which owns rights to the intellectual property itself, the difference is significant; more than $9 million more in profit for his team on one million units sold.

He emphasized that he and his team were fully aware of the backlash they would receive from fans when they made the deal, which was brokered at the end of April. Nevertheless, Bullock said that he was compelled to make the decision for the good of the franchise, and to secure its future and the potential for a sequel down the line.

Bullock said that refunds were being issued by the studio itself, and not from Epic Games as was the case recently with Shenmue 3. He explained that of more than 20,000 pre-orders of MechWarrior 5, only 700 refunds were requested on the first day. Polygon has reached out to Piranha to see where that number is today, and will update this article with any additional information we receive.

Most surprising to Bullock were consumer concerns over account security. Many outspoken critics of the Epic Game Store suspect that the client is an elaborate Trojan horse, with spyware baked in by Chinese megacorporation Tencent, which owns a non-majority stake in North Carolina-based Epic Games. That accusation has been refuted multiple times by Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney, and was refuted by Bullock as well.

You can listen to the entire podcast, which spans two different recordings over two days, on Soundcloud. The deadline for those who pre-ordered the game to request a refund is Sept. 1.

The story is from Polygon.

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These are only the numbers for the 1st day of refunds, I suspect the number is at least in the thousands. SidAlpha mentioned a 4000 refund estimate. The real number has yet to be released.

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53 minutes ago, Andytizer said:

These are only the numbers for the 1st day of refunds, I suspect the number is at least in the thousands. SidAlpha mentioned a 4000 refund estimate. The real number has yet to be released.

That is true but his figure was based on one Discord message that somehow translated the already subjective "almost everyone is upset" to 4000 people. Where can we see those messages of thousands of dissatisfied customers? Even the Shenmue 3 announcement on EGS exclusivity only has 1961 comments to this day (1.5 months period), often including comments posted en masse by a handful of angry backers.

Provided the developer is honest about the figures, I would put the overall figure close to that number simply based on the assumption that every dissatisfied customer would attempt to ask for a refund as soon as they find out, not days later.

Edit: I joined the RogueTech Discord server of 4000+ people and searched for "refund", which resulted in only 66 hits, about half of which are from before the announcement, thus unrelated.roguetech.thumb.png.cfd6da0970794f21c1f862d941656884.png

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Oh my god, you are actually that guy from r/EpicGamesPC, actual editor on PCGamingWiki, posting this dubious ""reSEarCh"" here? lol

*Blocking the news window on front page with Adblock

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3 hours ago, Oxion3 said:

Oh my god, you are actually that guy from r/EpicGamesPC, actual editor on PCGamingWiki, posting this dubious ""reSEarCh"" here? lol

*Blocking the news window on front page with Adblock

As far as I'm aware, the news section is open to submissions. Feel free to post your thorough research too.

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On 7/31/2019 at 8:03 AM, AnotherGills said:

I'm not surprised. The people who cared enough for the series to pre-order probably wouldn't be bothered enough by a storefront to drop the game.

I'd drop support for any game, even Half-Life 3 if it went Epic Store exclusive. Sadly didn't preorder this, so I can't refund 😎

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