On Wednesday, the game developer for Rocket League, Psyonix announced that it is joining the ‘Epic Games family’. The news came out of nowhere and surprised a lot of people. Rocket League has been a very successful game over the past few years and to this day, has a very consistent player base. It is one of the few multiplayer games that have survived the test of time recently with solid sales numbers and a content fan base. Rocket League, being a competitive game, also has an extremely popular Esports side to it with Rocket League Championships being both entertaining and competitive at the same time every season.
Psyonix is expected to be fully acquired by Epic Games in a month or two. This has left everyone dazed and confused. While the developer says that it has no plans of changing the future plans for the game, there are still major doubts over how accurate that statement really is. Psyonix, in a FAQ, reassured everyone that this change will not affect anyone’s daily Rocket League experience and the update roadmap will remain unchanged for the short-term at least. The long-term however, is a different story. According to Psyonix, the game will eventually make its way to the Epic Games Store and will make use of the ‘resources’ that Epic has to “grow the game in ways we couldn’t do on our own before”.
The Community Outrage
Now, Rocket League eventually moving to Epic Games Store means that it would probably not feature on Steam anymore. The Epic-Steam saga has been going on for quite a while with Epic Games buying out exclusivity deals for massive new games like Metro Exodus and Borderlands 3. While having two game stores essentially competing for the same product is good for the consumer, these recent Epic deals are not exactly what one would call ‘competition’. Epic Games store is clearly inferior to Steam and lacks a lot of key features. However, rather than fixing those issues and competing directly, Epic has just been straight up buying out games and blocking them from appearing on Steam.
Ok I was defending the Epic game store as good for forcing Steam to compete, and I really didn’t care about them buying exclusives of games that hadn’t come out yet.
But them buying Rocket League and potentially removing it from Steam is not ok.
— minecraft (@rockcock64) May 2, 2019
Since most of the PC gaming community still uses steam as their preferred platform, these deals are concerning them a lot. Furthermore, Epic does not have a very good history of protecting user data either with multiple security flaws getting surfaced during the past few months. Epic Games is also owned by Tencent, a Chinese company raising even more suspicions over potential connections with the Chinese government. The whole thing is just messy and no one is ready to trust Epic even a little bit. While having a newly released game as a timed exclusive is bad, stealing an already established game off a platform is a whole new form of ball game from Epic and people are not happy. The community is outraged by the acquisition with some going on to even say that they wouldn’t be supporting and playing Rocket League anymore.
What is the Future of Rocket League?
Rocket League is still without any doubt one of the most played competitive multiplayer games in the world. The game has achieved success by thriving on the formula of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. The core gameplay of Rocket League still feels the same as it did many years ago on day 1 and that is not a bad thing. Yes, the game has had extra game modes added to the game and some other wacky stuff but the main game is still the same. This has led to a happy and committed community that still boots up the game every single day. The ranked matchmaking is also very good at separating players of different skill levels meaning that players of all skills can enjoy the game thoroughly. However, with the Epic Games backing, will the game still be the same?
According to Psyonix, yes but from a realistic perspective, probably not. Psyonix has stated that it is still going to retain the same development team and no layoff or rearrangement is planned. However, with the Fortnite money from Epic Games rolling into the game, how long can Psyonix go before Epic makes a demand for the game to be changed. Rocket League has had loot boxes and micro transactions for quite a while now. However, the Epic acquisition could mean that the practices may be extended much further with additional updates to the way the cosmetics and new content works for the game. A lot of people are concerned about Epic implementing the Fortnite formula of weekly content updates with new challenges. In reality though, this seems pretty unlikely at least for a while as the Fortnite development team is much larger than Psyonix.
If it did eventually come to that though, it wouldn’t entirely be a bad thing either. These changes would probably come to separate game modes and not to the ranked playlists keeping the core gameplay intact. Fortnite has been massively successful for a really long time with the same model and Rocket League could use some reinvigorating as well. The Rocket League Esports Championships are already well established and Epic’s money could only boost the competitive element of the game. The steam workshop maps might not work for the game anymore either, which would be a real shame. However, current owners on steam will probably be able to launch the game through the platform.
At the end of the day though, the acquisition will still put Rocket League behind the label of exclusivity. This is not a good practice for anyone and just kills the whole competitive element of the industry. The community is clearly not happy with what Epic Games is doing with the store. Restricting people to using their flawed store rather than fixing it first by buying out games like Rocket League will only fan the flames of frustration. The future is still pretty much up in the air though as nothing has been clearly confirmed. Now it is up to Psyonix to not take decisions that would hurt the game further and lead to a decrease in player base. While Rocket League is still going strong, it would be intriguing to see what the game turns into in the next few months. Fingers Crossed.