Looking for input to give Epic on buyer confidence and seller culpability

Hey guys,

So yesterday I was involved in a discussion with a staff member at Epic about outdated content, and specific issues that arise on the marketplace. Basically, as Epic are looking to open up more of the marketplace to sellers to control (uploading content themselves, updating descriptions, screenshots, etc.) there is, obviously, potential for more issues to pop up as a result, whether it is outdated content, breach of copyright, false advertising, or anything else. This goes for all users in the marketplace, not just sellers, as there have been cases where customers have gone on very personal attacks against sellers and such - it’s all the usual issues that come with any community.

During our discussion, we were talking about some potential ways that these issues may be handled in a changing marketplace, and I thought maybe it might be useful to open this up to the community more broadly, with the intent that I can take whatever we come up with back to epic as possible discussion points.

I will say that some ideas that were already discussed were:

Please note: these were discussed. This is not meant to suggest these will be, or are, in development or planned. They were just ideas discussed between myself and the staff member that may be taken back to the marketplace team for further consideration.

  • A report system for comments, products, sellers, and users
    This would be much like a report system on any other marketplace - where you see something that isn’t right, you can report it and that sends a little red flag to epic to investigate.

  • Marketplace moderators
    Similar to moderators on the forums, this would be a team of people who have the ability to freeze comments, or perhaps even products, for a short time, allowing epic to investigate before any more is done.

  • More reliable metrics to judge purchases by
    Things like a seller rating, not just product ratings. An ‘average response time’ for sellers (once there is a fully functional internal messaging system in place) and such were also discussed as possible solutions to help here.

There may have been other ideas brought up that I am forgetting, but the discussion was not entirely about this too. Either way - there are currently talks going on about how this issue may be dealt with, so any other ideas you guys can put forward, now is the time to do so. I’m posting it here so that both sellers and customers are able to voice their suggestions and both lots can be taken to Epic as possible points of discussion.

Cheers guys

  • apoisonedgift

PS - I am fully aware that there are many problems with the marketplace aside from this. However, buyer confidence and seller culpability is one present issue that is needing addressing, and will do so more as the seller autonomy is increased. If the only thing you can think of to add to this discussion is “I’d rather they focussed on <something else> than this”, kindly see yourself out. It’s not conducive to the discussion and is a waste of everyone’s time. Thanks.

I like the idea of having moderators with the above suggestion

also all assets should be put into their own version and if the Devs do not give support then they should be removed to a different part of marketplace possible labeled not supported
i have bought may new assets where the developer never answered emails and at my level it is lost money to me if i knew there was no support i would not buy.

as mentioned you could have multi star rating
content *****
quality *****
Support *****
Updates *****

I still concider my self new to unreal engine so the extra info would give better choices when buying

Hi @apoisonedgift

I’m really glad you started the conversation with Epic about this. As a buyer (and I future potential seller) let me share some thoughts about the situation:

**Submitting to the Marketplace **- The Marketplace team takes too long to review and accept / deny submissions - We are all familiar with this, so no need to explain further. In addition to making the process very painful and long for the sellers, this is causing an interesting dilemma for us buyers. See, the recent trend is for Sellers to simply put their products on Itch / Gumroad / whatever because the Marketplace takes too long. So as a buyer, do I buy it on Itch to get the product now or do I wait for a few months (literally) to get it on my launcher? Updates are also an issue…you get them instantly on another platform, yet have to wait days / weeks to get it in the Marketplace.

At the end, we should encourage buyers to put it in the Marketplace - its better for Sellers (more exposure), better for buyers (more convenient) and better for Epic (they get their cut).

Potential Solution - Once a Seller is vetted, they are now free to control their content themselves. Maybe have the initial long process for first-time Sellers and then give them tools to submit new content or update their files instantly.

**Moderation **- My only comment here is that we should NOT give the Sellers the ability to moderate their own comments. We don’t want a situation similar to Steam where some devs just delete negative comments. A flagging system for inappropriate comments or deceiving content should be added for someone at Epic to review.

Seller Rating System - I think this is a great idea! When buying a new asset I typically look at the Seller to see what else he/she has for sale and look at the other asset’s ratings. Perhaps we can allow Buyers to rate the Sellers on a variety of categories: Quality of his/her asset packs, Responsiveness, Quality of learning materials, etc

Outdated Content - Maybe Epic can add a little warning on the product page if the product isn’t compatible with the latest version of Unreal?

I don’t have any ideas that haven’t been discussed before. I think that if we can speed up submission and give Sellers control of their content a lot of these issues will go away.

I’m not yet a Marketplace seller, but I’d like to offer my input as a seller, after a few tens of sales on Gumroad and also as a customer, after a few purchases from the Marketplace.

1. Reports

I completely agree with the existence of a reporting system for comments, products, sellers and users.

I would not agree with reports leading to some form of automated action (i.e. automatically freeze a product, sort of similar to how PayPal’s “charge back” mechanic freezes your entire account, from what I’ve heard; my apologies if I’m wrong here). These should always lead to a human being’s conscious action.

2. Moderators

I completely agree with the existence of moderators, especially to freeze comments/products, but also to mediate potentially less than civilized or simply untrue reviews. For example, if I, as a seller, can prove with screenshots and other materials that a review contains misleading information and/or untrue claims, that review should be taken down, the faster the better (for the “health” of a product, I subjectively consider it better to have 10 positive and 0 negative reviews than have 20 positive and 1 negative).

3. Metrics

I completely agree with metrics such as: seller rating, product rating.

I would only partially agree with an ‘average response time’. The reason is that this may not be 100% accurate right from the start of a product and may mislead buyers into having false hopes (i.e. 20 people buy it and ask for support just after the product’s launch; from the seller’s perspective, he may keep a close eye on their product at start, to make sure everything’s alright, which would lead to a very short response time; however, one cannot continue to provide 24/7 support forever; time-zones, schedules, other activities come into play). If anything, I would recommend storing the average response time, but displaying a higher value to the buyers (i.e. 1.5 x ART). That wouldn’t create pressure on the seller and at the same time wouldn’t create false expectations from the buyers.

I would also recommend having the following: seller’s last online time, product’s last update time, seller’s profile picture, seller’s forum account. Though I can’t think of others right now, the seller page in itself could use a few more details as they do help a lot with culpability and gaining buyers’ trust.

To the lines above, I’d like to add a few more:

4. Support

I believe it should be made extremely clear that a seller is in no way obligated to offer support outside the questions/issues directly related to their product. The reason I am pointing this out is because I’ve had quite a few people that asked this from me and most of the time, I answered (i.e. it is not my responsibility to teach a user how to compile UE from GitHub or how replication and RPCs work). Though, so far, there haven’t been many questions of the like (and they haven’t been very time-consuming), there was one particular gentlemen who almost expected me to become a developer on his game and even called me impolite and disrespectful when I refused him, after hours of messaging. Chances are this will happen again at some point and, from my experience so far, they tend to happen in private.

5. License

I believe there should be some annexed form in a product’s page which displays any custom license and at the same time, forbid Marketplace sellers to include additional licenses or any form of legal constraints. Haven’t got much to say here, I just think it’s common sense for people to know exactly what they’re buying so they don’t wake up with surprises. Right now, this is optional via custom links.

6. Outdated Content

During my plugin submission, the guidelines I received stated that Epic will not accept products targeting older engine versions than current version and the last 2 older releases (i.e. currently, the engine is at 4.16 so they will only accept 4.14, 4.15, 4.16 versions). I believe there should be a clear statement that the buyer is not obligated to offer support for older versions or custom engines. The reasoning behind this is that older versions can be extremely time-consuming (common sense) and custom engines may contain changes that sellers cannot possibly predict so I don’t believe sellers should be forced, by default, to support custom engines.

Definitely looks like a great thread and will follow it closely!

EDIT: By the time I finished writing this post, I noticed the reply above mentioning the extremely long submission and response times from Epic, so I’m going to add a +1 to it, in case the staff is reading this. That 30% cut Epic is taking should really be worth it and in my opinion, right now, it is only barely worth it, given the Epic Games brand that gets annexed to your product, increasing sales indirectly.

I’ve said this before and ill say it again, the easiest and best solution for this is to allow sellers to earn the right to do this. It shouldn’t be given from the get go. Sellers should prove that theyre trustworthy enough to be able to handle the reins with regards to uploading their own products and updates. Giving veteran sellers this ability while maintaining the manual work on the staff end would result in no shift in quality. It would however alleviate some of the stress on the staff so that they won’t be processing content for established and trustworthy sellers.

In regards to moderators, it’s not a bad idea in theory but it could open up a whole can of worms with regards to potential abuse. As we’ve talked about in other threads the criteria on the review sheet demonstrates that actual developers aren’t exactly in charge of reviewing assets. (when you have checklist requirements citing no overlapping uvs, when overlapping uvs is required for many texturing methods).

Having the ability to remove someones product from sale, or arbitrate in the comment section over disputes without the appropriate knowledge would only cause more issues.

To be clear from the start, I do not completely disagree with this statement of yours.

However, I believe it should be given much more thought. There are types of products which less maintenance than others (i.e. sound vs plugins). This has the potential to lead to very unfair situation where 1 seller has, let’s say 5 ‘issues’ and fixes them all (100% trust), while others have 50 ‘issues’ on a much more complex product, but only solve 40 of them, in the same time interval (80% trust). At a glance, they both should achieve the same 100% trust level, but you can’t ignore the fact that you’d be putting apples and oranges in the same category. Sure, they’re both fruits, but other than that, there should be some differences instead of a clear ‘one-fits-all’ solution which would be doomed to fail, in my opinion.

It goes without saying I think that your typical assets are different from plugins. The latter even has an extended review period for just that reason.

Just to expand my response to this too, since I hate writing long comments on my mobile, I don’t think it’s fair to penalize a seller because they can’t fix an issue in the same timeframe as another. Like I mentioned above, sometimes the problem is engine related and we have to wait for Epic to provide a fix. Even in the instances where the fix can be applied by the seller, it may still take time to narrow down the cause and test it out properly. That’s why we are given 30 days to update our products to new engine versions. Just because 1 seller is able to fix their product in a few days while another takes a few weeks doesn’t make the latter any less of a seller than the former. Not every issue requires a simple fix.

What I was getting at in my initial post regarding sellers earning the ability to self publish is after demonstrating that they not only have an understanding of their field but also how to package and distribute content in a professional way. For many of us, having 5+ packs on the marketplace we know what is required and we’ve gone through the motions with Epic enough to understand what they’re looking for. Couple this with the knowledge of our respective areas of expertise, and there’s no reason we should be going through the slow lane. It’s unfair to veteran sellers, the staff and new sellers. Giving the ability to self publish to those with a reputation of putting out quality assets would allow the staff to process the other applications without burdening the queue with requests/submissions that can be handled by the veteran sellers. Keep in mind to that compatibility challenges shouldn’t factor into this. There will always be a problem with a new engine version one way or another. What should be reviewed is whether the seller rises to the occasion and delivers a compatible product. And most if not all veteran sellers I’ve seen have done so within the allotted time frame.

I’m fine with unpaid moderators being able to moderate the comment sections of my products, but definitely not anything that can impact my income such as remove a product from sale (temporarily or otherwise).

What is the actual legality or enforceability of marketplace sellers who provide additional licensing terms beyond the license included with UE4? One would assume these additional terms are invalidated because of UE4s license however, I could not find a definitive answer.