Bloodlines 2, Oxygen Not Included removed from Epic Store as sale price confusion rises

(Image: © Paradox)

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 will be available on the Epic Games Store, among other digital storefronts, but if you attempt to hit its Epic Store page right now, you'll come up empty. That's because Paradox has removed the game, apparently in order to keep it out of the Epic Mega Sale that began yesterday

An Epic Games spokesperson confirmed that Paradox requested the game's removal. "If a developer or publisher chooses to not participate in our sales, we will honor that decision," the rep said. "Paradox Interactive has chosen to not participate in the Epic Mega Sale and the game has been temporarily removed from sale." 

Paradox Interactive echoed Epic in its own separate statement, but did not say exactly why the game was removed, rather than simply left at regular price. It did confirm, however, that it will honor the discounted price for anyone who purchased Bloodlines 2 before it was removed from the store.

"We are in discussion with Epic regarding the temporary removal of Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 from the Epic Game Store," public relations manager Jesse Henning said. "The game will return to the store soon! Any purchases made while the game was discounted during the Epic Mega Sale will be honored and no Masquerade violations will be assessed."   

Some commenters have theorized that the bonus $10 discount Epic is providing on any games over $14.99 is the root cause of the trouble. Klei's Oxygen Not Included, for instance, normally goes for $25 and was discounted by 25 percent for the sale, taking it to $18.74. But the bonus $10 discount offered reduced that to the ridiculously low $8.74—and, like Bloodlines 2, the game went MIA from Epic shortly after the same began. Klei hasn't commented on the reason for the removal but with Oxygen Not Included just a couple of weeks from its full release, it's quite conceivable that the studio simply wouldn't want to cut that deeply into its regular price. 

 Supergiant Games took a different approach to a similar issue with its early access game Hades, and ended up wading even deeper into the seas of complication as a result. As detailed on Resetera, Hades was discounted to $17 in North America, making it eligible for the bonus $10 discount being offered by Epic, but went down to €14.86 in Europe, was which not. Seven bucks is a hell of a deal, and missing out on it for being a few cents on the wrong side of an arbitrary line did not make people happy: Complaints followed, so Supergiant raised the price—but to $25, which was actually higher than the $20 cost at the start of the sale.

The studio justified the unexpected increase by saying that it "reflects the game's current value in Early Access based on all the additions and improvements we've made since launch," and the Epic discount took it down to $15, which was still a 25 percent cut on the pre-sale price. But there was no escaping the backlash of a surprise price hike (especially after some people had picked it up for so much less) and so Supergiant reset it to $20, taking it all back to where it began. 

"Earlier today, Hades became available at a significant discount as part of the Epic Mega Sale on the Epic Games store. We communicated poorly in the hours that followed, and want to clear things up," Supergiant designer Greg Kasavin explained following the final change. "The retail price of Hades is now back to $19.99, our original launch price. With the Epic Discount, you can get the game for $10 off that price right now, through to the end of the sale on June 13." 

"After the sale is over, on June 14, we will be raising the game's retail price to $24.99. We had intended to raise the retail price of the game soon, but made the decision rashly as part of the sale—we didn't provide advance notice to our customers, despite previously stating we would do so. That was our mistake, and we sincerely apologize."

Overall, the confusion paints a picture of a good idea that was hustled out the door without being fully thought through. Epic using some of its bazillions to subsidize deeper discounts on sale items is a big plus for gamers and developers alike: The players get their stuff even cheaper, and the makers are able to reach a wider audience than they otherwise might. But as with all things, the devil is in the details—things like regional pricing, percentages, arbitrary cutoffs, and developer opt-outs—and in this case it looks very much like Epic failed to take all of that in before it flipped the switch.

Update: Epic has changed how the pricing is displayed on the front page of its store, so it now displays the sale price without the $10 Epic-subsidized discount. Prices on individual store pages do show the discount applied, however: John Wick Hex is listed at $17.99 on the front page, for instance, but the store page price is $7.99, "with Epic discount." 

Update 2 (9:20 pm ET, May 17): Gearbox has now suspended sales of Borderlands 3 on the Epic Games Store. "We are working closely with Epic and have temporarily removed Borderlands 3 from their storefront. We look forward to the game being back on the Epic Games Store very soon," a 2K representative said. "Games bought during their Mega Sale will be honored at that price."