Epic Games Buying Bandcamp Is Another Death For The Independent Internet

Epic Games just purchased Bandcamp, making for one of the smaller gaming acquisitions in a year that, just two months in, is already echoing with the screeching gears of capitalism. This is not as monumental, nor will it have as far reaching consequences as Microsoft buying Activision, but it's in the same sphere of monopolisation, commodification, and the erasure of spaces for independent art to thrive.

When big companies buy up smaller companies, a little piece of the internet's creativity, ambition, and raw punk edge dies. It can be a lucrative payday for those involved in setting up these small companies, for those who have toiled to build something great, something that has grown from nothing into one of the most unique spaces on the internet, but all of us lose out a little. Epic Games say Bandcamp will remain independent, but that cannot ever be true in acquisitions like this. Even if it continues in a business-as-usual manner most of the time, when a multinational corporation is signing the cheques and asking for progress reports, that's going to change your decision making.

What was most troublesome about all of this was the statement Bandcamp released confirming the acquisition. "I'm excited to announce that Bandcamp is joining Epic Games, who you may know as the makers of Fortnite and Unreal Engine, and champions for a fair and open Internet." I mean… what? The first two, sure. You hear Epic, you think Fortnite. But "champions for a fair and open Internet"? Who on Earth knows Epic Games as that, aside from Epic themselves? In the very first paragraph from Bandcamp following the acquisition, Epic is already using the company as a mouthpiece.

I know that it's referring to the Epic vs Apple case, and you might even agree that Epic's in the right. But no human being, at least none not in charge of Epic's press division, know Epic games as the "champions for a fair and open Internet." That's why the very next line, 'confirming' Bandcamp will "keep operating as a standalone marketplace and music community," is impossible to believe.

Then there's the question of what the acquisition actually means. It's doubtful that Epic has bought Bandcamp just to let it continue to operate as usual, but with the money going into Epic's pockets instead. I can believe that Sony bought Bungie to do that, although I also expect a PS exclusive and some form of Destiny movie to come to fruition in the long-term. We could see some cutting-edge synergy, with Epic lacing the music licensing and general musical capabilities and logistics Bandcamp offers into the gaming space. The Fortnite concerts are proof that Epic sees a musical future for gaming, seeing the potential in the youthful, engaged, and involved audiences of the gaming sphere.

There could also be metaverse ambitions on the horizon, and following Epic Games' acquisition of Harmonix, Epic seems to be building towards something. The problem with planning for the metaverse is that no one seems to be able to define what it is, and therefore it's difficult to get excited about what is little more than a corporate buzzword right now. Does it mean something to do with VR? Something to do with NFTs? VR NFTs? Is it just Teams meetings, but worse? Is it specific to games, specific to business, or both? Neither? No one can define it, give me a meaningful example of it, or even say how it will improve the online experience or change anything, so it doesn't feel like there's anything to get excited about.

Epic Games, champion for a fair and open internet, just killed an independent corner of it by buying it up, likely for a metaverse project it still cannot explain, define, or create. I look forward to writing another one of these articles in a few months when Valve buys up itch, and by 'look forward' I mean 'fucking dread with every fibre of my being'.

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