Metro Exodus becoming an Epic Games Store exclusive has been followed by a busy week of confusing and conflicting statements.

It’s been one week since you looked at me publisher Deep Silver announced that Metro Exodus would be removed from Steam and exclusively sold on the Epic Games Store, and boy has a lot happened since then. That decision made a lot of people mad right off the bat – I even argued that Epic’s store isn’t ready for all the exclusives it’s getting – but things have only gotten messier from there.

Over the last week, there have been a total of six public comments from people either at Deep Silver, Metro developer 4A Games, owner THQ Nordic, and a different THQ Nordic – as well as one from Valve. It’s been a busy week with a lot of confusing and conflicting statements, so here’s a breakdown of what happened in the order that it happened.

Metro Exodus Becomes Epic Games Store Exclusive, Valve Responds – Jan 28

Kicking things off the only way they can be, Metro Exodus left Steam. Publisher Deep Silver announced that the game would launch exclusively on the Epic Games Store through a Steam forum post on Jan 28, less than three weeks before its release date of Feb 15.

The post said that Epic Games and Deep Silver were partnering for exclusive access for its first year, but that those who already pre-ordered on Steam would still be able to download and play it there. Additionally, future DLC would be released on both platforms as well.

Valve responded that day with a statement posted to the top of the Metro Exodus Steam page calling the sudden change “unfair to Steam customers, especially after a long pre-sale period.” The frustration in the statement is fairly clear, as it goes on to say that Valve was “only recently informed of the decision and given limited time to let everyone know.”

From this point on, previous Metro games also started getting bombed with negative reviews on Steam from angry fans, which has continued through this week.

THQ Nordic GmbH Blames Koch Media for Metro Exodus Exclusivity, Addresses Future Timed Exclusives – Jan 29

The next day, the official THQ Nordic Twitter account tweeted out a statement saying “The decision to publish Metro Exodus as a timed Epic Store exclusive was made entirely on Koch Media’s side as Metro is their intellectual property” and that it wouldn’t comment further on the matter. A follow-up tweet also said that the studio wouldn’t “categorically exclude the possibility of timed exclusives” for its games in the future, but that right now it is focused on letting “players choose the platform of their liking.”

Koch Media is the publisher that owns Deep Silver, but what wasn’t totally clear at the time (and this is where things start to get real messy) is that there are actually two different THQ Nordics: THQ Nordic GmbH, which is the publisher behind the Darksiders series, and THQ Nordic AB, which is the larger company that owns THQ Nordic GmbH, Koch Media, and Goat Simulator developer Coffee Stain Studios.

So while many people thought the tweet putting blame on Koch was from Deep Silver’s parent company (THQ Nordic AB) it was actually from its sister company (THQ Nordic GmbH). The tweet was simply THQ Nordic GmbH distancing itself from the controversy and saying it wasn’t commenting because it pretty much doesn’t have anything to do with this situation.

And then the other THQ chimed in…

THQ Nordic AB Backs Metro Exodus Switch to Epic Games Store, Clarifies Company Structure – Jan 30

Everything I explained above about THQ Nordic’s company structure wasn’t super clear until the following day when THQ Nordic AB (the overall parent company, in case you’ve lost track) put out a press release clarifying the situation. In it, THQ Nordic AB explained that THQ Nordic GmbH is a separate company it owns and that it’s independent of another company it owns, Koch Media, which in turn owns Deep Silver, which then owns the Metro license, which is being used in partnership by 4A Games to make Metro Exodus. And people think Kingdom Hearts is confusing.

THQ Nordic AB’s press release also included a statement from co-founder and group CEO Lars Wingefors where he said: “I fully support our sub-groups’ autonomy to run their respective businesses.”

Wingefors continued by saying “I firmly believe that Deep Silver and Koch Media have carefully considered the advantages and disadvantages, opportunities and risks in their decision to go solely with Epic Games Store. The decision has my full support.”

Wingefors also commented on the confusion around the THQ Nordic name, saying that they had previously announced plans to change THQ Nordic AB’s name already in an earnings call last year. There’s no timeline on when that might happen, but I’m willing to bet this debacle will light a bit of a fire under those in charge of that process.

4A Games Dev Says Boycotting Metro Exodus Could Stop Future PC Releases – Jan 31

The first unofficial statement in all of this came from a Russian forum post, allegedly written by an unnamed developer at 4A Games and later confirmed by Deep Silver to be real. In it, the developer who goes by “scynet” said that while they understand why players might be angry, they’re also disappointed at some of the fan response.

Scynet called out people advocating that players steal Metro Exodus on PC, saying that the development team has been working for years to make the game special regardless of this business decision. They also say that if fans boycott Metro Exodus on PC as a result of the Epic exclusivity, it will just mean that future Metro games (if there are any) won’t get PC releases at all.

The posting was clearly impassioned and full of frustration, but many took it as an official word – maybe even a threat – from 4A Games that future PC releases for Metro were on the line here.

Deep Silver Takes Blame for Metro Exodus Exclusivity, Contradicts Dev Forum Post – Feb 3

After a couple days of peace, the official Metro Exodus Twitter account tweeted out a longer response of their own to both the controversy and the forum post from the 4A Games developer. It began similar to both of the previous THQ Nordic statements, reading “The recent decision to move Metro Exodus from Steam to the Epic Game Store was made by Koch Media / Deep Silver alone.”

“The recent comments made by a member of the 4A Games development team do not reflect Deep Silver’s or 4A Games’ view on the future of the franchise,” the statement continued. “They do reflect the hurt and disappointment of a passionate individual who has seen what was previously nothing but positive goodwill towards his work turn to controversy due to a business decision he had no control over. We respectfully ask that any and all valid feedback over this decision is directed at Koch Media / Deep Silver, and not the developers at 4A Games.”

The statement finishes by addressing scynet’s comment about future Metro PC releases, saying that partnering with Epic Games was “based on the goal of investing in the future of the series and our development partner at 4A Games,” and that “a PC version will always be at the heart of our plans.”

Of course, no one knew for sure that this was written by Deep Silver at first. Despite the third-person references to 4A Games, the statement coming from the official Metro Twitter meant that many assumed it was from 4A itself. A forum post on Resetera later that day actually confirmed it was coming from Deep Silver.

What comes next?

That’s everything that’s happened so far, and I’m not really sure where else you go from there. Pretty much every company involved has made a statement of some kind. The big takeaways seem to be that switching to the Epic Games Store was Koch/Deep Silver’s decision, their parent company supports it (but that doesn’t mean they’ll force it on anyone), some devs on Metro Exodus are bummed out by the whole situation, and a lot of fans are too.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you that this was a big mess. In the meantime, Metro is less than two weeks away, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated if anybody else wades into it all. I still think that the Epic Store isn’t ready for exclusives like this, but it does prove that it’s the first real threat to Steam.

Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker, and he stole that Kingdom Hearts joke from Jonathon Dornbush. You can follow him on Twitter.

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