Dear Epic Games Staff and Community:
My name is Johnny. Iím from Puerto Rico and I have been an avid, hardcore fan of the Gears of War franchise since the release of †Gears of War 2. I joined the Epic Games forums/community on December 2011, 3 months after Gears of War 3 was released. I adopted the forum name †Barrick Cigars Inc. This was after I became a big fan of the character Michael Barrick who debuted in the Gears Campaign DLC ďRaamís ShadowĒ. Gears 3 became my favourite game of all time to the point that I played the game for 11 months non stop. Horde was already my favourite game since Gears 2. So itís no surprise that in Gears 3 I have more than 12,000 waves of Horde played, more than 6,000 waves of Beast mode and countless episodes played between the main campaign and Raamís Shadow DLC.
Iíve been a musician and composer for over 25 years. And that passion for both music and the game, inspired me to compose a metal version of the Gears 3 main musical theme ďGears Keep TurningĒ composed by the great Steve Jablonsky. The feedback I received from the Gears community about the song was incredible. I received nothing but cheers and praise. And for me that was a big accomplishment. All those events and facts Iíve described are just for the purpose of giving you a glimpse of the history and commitment Iíve had with the franchise.
Itís also worth noting the fact that Iíve established real good relationships with members of the community and with some of †the Epic Games staff. This community stands apart from other gaming communities because thereís a sense of pride and brotherhood as we adopted the Gears 3 promotional phrase Brothers to the End.
In March 19, 2013 Epic Games released Gears of War Judgment. A prequel of the main story. This time featuring the figure of Damon Baird instead of Marcus Fenix who was the main character of the first 3 games. Before the game was released Epic announced that the campaign was developed by the newly acquired People Can Fly Studios and the multiplayer aspect of the game was developed by Epic in its entirety.
The game was received with mixed emotions within the Epic community and the gaming industry overall. Epic made some bold movements trying to deliver a fresh look to the Gears Universe. Some of those bold movements included the elimination of the Locust faction in Versus modes (Team Deathmatch, Execution etc), the elimination of the DBNO (Down But Not Out) feature in versus mode. The elimination of the second most played game mode in both Gears 2 and 3, Horde. And the introduction of a new game mode called Overrun. These are known facts by the gaming community overall.
Some fans of the franchise received the changes with open arms and some didnít. Itís also known that the fans who did receive the changes with open arms were outnumbered by the fans who didnít. Some of us gave the game a chance to grow on us overtime. In my experience, I let the game grow on me and despite the fact that I was very disappointed that Horde was not included in the game, I became a fan of the new game modes Overrun and Survival, especially Survival which is a kinda like a variation of Horde with less waves but with more action and itís also a class based game mode with each character have 4 distinctive roles.
Epic offered a VIP pass with a price tag 1600 microsoft points. The now equivalent of $19.99. The VIP pass included new maps for the versus modes and for Overrun and Survival. Access to VIP playlists with double XP points. And some new weapon and armour skins. No new characters though. Those new characters were pre-sale exclusives. Itís been 4 months since the release of Judgment and the online population has plummeted to the point that it is rare to find a ranked matched. Much of that population has gone back to Gears 3. The numbers are staggering. Right now the number of people playing Team Deathmatch in Gears 3 equals the amount of the people who are playing all of Judgment game modes combined.
At first, the developers at Epic made an effort and started to get feedback from the community so they could make changes that would make a better gaming experience on Judgment. Some changes were made, some worked like a charm and some didnít. The online gaming population in Judgment kept declining despite the new changes. The developers kept getting more feedback from the community. But it came to the point that the requests made from the community were started to be answered with a ďSorry, we canít do thatĒ or ďSorry, Itís not possibleĒ. The developers stated that there were some limitations and restrictions within the UI (User Interface) that wouldnít let them make the changes the community were requesting. They also stated that their publisher, in this case Microsoft Studios, put some limitations on them in order to make some of those changes. But the developers went as far as saying that they could not resolve some of the issues, glitches and bugs because there were some coding issues within the UI †that they didnít know how to fix them. I was astonished by this statement to say the least. Which brings me to the main reason I am writing these lines.
About a month ago Epic released a new DLC called Lost Relics. New maps, new weapon and armour skins etc. Along came a Title Update (aka TU). The TU resolved a lot of issues within the game. But unfortunately brought some new issues. One of those issues that came afloat was that the DLC maps used for both Overrun and Survival were taken out of the Survival quick match playlist. And this happened just 2 days after both the new DLC and the TU were released. I quickly started a thread on the Epic Games Forums addressing the issue. You can find the aforementioned thread here . Thatís when the Microsoft limitation excuse and the ďWe donít know how to fix itĒ excuse came about. And by the way those excuses were given on Twitter, not even in the thread I created. And those answers were given because one of my fellow members of the community contacted lead level designer Jim Brown through Twitter and asked him if he was aware of the issue.
Since then, the Epic staff, including developers and community managers have gone silent. No more answers, no more explanations and most importantly no more solutions. Seems like Epic is no more interested in Judgment and decided to let the game perish. They still make the occasional special event which they used to make new ones each week. Now the frequency of those events has gone down from one week to two and even three weeks. And theyíre still giving the chance to some members of the community to play as The Epic Reaper. And Iím proud to say that I am amongst the ones who were given that honor. But besides those events, everything in the Epic community right now is in a state of inexplicable inertia.
The issue with the DLC maps is a serious one because those are maps a lot of us paid up front when the VIP pass was offered during the pre-sale of the game and those who either bought the VIP pass after the game was released or bought the DLCs separately. And the way I see it, Epic Games is not fulfilling their end of the bargain. If they have issues within the UI that they donít know how to resolve them, which makes no sense at all since theyíre the ones who developed that same UI. And If they have issues with their publisher, Microsoft, those issues have to be worked out to keep their customers and loyal fan base that. Loyal. And right now Epic doesnít seem interested in keeping that fan base judging by their actions or should I say non-actions.
Itís been more than a month since this and some other issues havenít been resolved. †Members of the community including myself have been waiting patiently for Epic to give us solutions. So far we have received none. I tried to keep the dirty laundry inside Epicís house but they left me with no alternative but to write this open letter. I needed in some way to put the ball in Epicís side of the court. And for me this is the right way to do it. Dear friends at Epic. Iíve written this letter not because I want you to fail, but rather I would love to see you rise to the occasion and do the right thing to your loyal fan base. Over the years you guys have treated us with gratitude and respect. And we really appreciate that. So Iíve written this letter with the same sense of respect and gratitude you have given us your loyal fans. So to the wonderful staff at Epic who have shared their lives with us day in and day out for the past 7 years or so since the first Gears Of War was released. Jim, Pete, Stacey, Cher, Will and the rest of the crew. First of all, thank you for treating us like family over the years. And second of all, PLEASE, listen to our voice and fulfil your end of the bargain like you have done wonderfully in the not so distant past. Many blessings and good vibrations to you all.
Johnny (Brothers To The End)