Epic tries to blow off some Steam with its Epic Games Store

Epic Games is historically known for its Unreal Engine and more recently for a teeny-weeny game you may know called Fortnite. The company is now making a big play in the realm of digital downloads with its upcoming Epic Games Store, and it has Steam squarely in its crosshairs.

The relationship with game developers seems to be the Store's main selling point. For that purpose, the first move is a flat 12% royalty for Epic on games sold through its storefront, a percentage that seriously undercuts Steam's usual 30% take. Furthermore, Epic is trying to score extra points by not having royalty tiers, a jab at Steam's recently announced sliding-scale royalty table. There's an extra bonus for developers using Unreal Engine, too. Epic won't charge developers the usual 5% royalty for Unreal Engine games sold in its store.

Although the store will launch with a hand-curated set of games for the PC and Mac, Epic remarks that "all engines are welcome," meaning the Store isn't meant to emulate publisher-specific outlets like Origin or Uplay. The company says it'll add more games and open the Store on Android and "other open platforms" after the initial launch.

Epic further notes that it wants developers to have a direct relationship with players. Those buying games in the Store automatically get subscribed to the developer's news feed, and there will be no store ads or cross-marketing of other games on a particular title's page. The company notes that it won't allow paid ads in search results, either.

In another grassroots-building move, developers will be able to allow referral purchases of their games through the Epic Store. The company will cover the first 5% paid out through the revenue-sharing program per game for the first two years. Once again, that's a right hook at Valve, whose Steam storefront has no referral program.

The Epic Games Store will open its virtual doors in 2019. Reports that Gabe Newell angrily uttered "this town ain't big enough for the both of us" are as of yet unconfirmed.

Comments closed
    • EzioAs
    • 10 months ago

    This might be just me, but I’m really shocked at how people seems to really hate how there are more game online storefronts. DRM is one thing, but there is nothing inherently wrong with having a competitor to Steam. Yes, right now, the Epic Games Store might not have the attractiveness features to customer that Steam has, but this isn’t a short-term thing. In the long run, they can (and should) improve and we might see more games being distributed digitally in more store than just Steam. I’m sure we all know that the last thing any business want is to put their entire distribution service onto a single third-party platform.

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 10 months ago

      I agree that competition is a good thing. I think what drives people away is that most of the new stores that pop up are less “competition” and more “segregation”. Ideally a new storefront should mean I have yet another place that I can purchase the product I’m looking for, which in turn forces the storefronts to drive prices down and/or give value adds in an attempt to earn my business. In practice, a new storefront means that I now have to go to yet another place to get the product that I’m looking for since it is no longer offered where I used to get it.

      In my mind, the most ideal solution for the customer is to separate the storefront from the game management software. Then standardize the way the game management software works. The idea is that I could purchase from any storefront while then being able to manage my games from my UI of choice. I should even be able to swap managers at any given point. In practice, this won’t work in the current environment due to widely implemented platform specific features and the fact that there would be little incentive to work the game management side without the guarantee of income from an associated storefront.

        • psuedonymous
        • 10 months ago

        [quote<]In my mind, the most ideal solution for the customer is to separate the storefront from the game management software. Then standardize the way the game management software works. The idea is that I could purchase from any storefront while then being able to manage my games from my UI of choice.[/quote<] You mean, like an executable file? That you can launch using a shortcut placed in any desired location?

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 10 months ago

      I feel like library management is a natural monopoly because juggling multiple accounts is annoying as hell.

    • Krogoth
    • 10 months ago

    This all because of Fortnite. It is Epic’s new cash cow. They have their eyes on eating away at DOTA2’s crowd.

    • rudimentary_lathe
    • 10 months ago

    This is potentially very positive for consumers. Lower markups for game distributors could mean the developers will pass some of those savings on to consumers.

    It’s somewhat surprising the markups have stayed so high for as long as they have. More competition FTW! It’s rather annoying to possibly have to download yet another distributor’s client, but if it means better pricing I’ll live with it.

    • danny e.
    • 10 months ago

    usually these stories annoy me because I don’t see the need for yet another store.
    However, this one is very different if they stick to the royalty fee amounts.

    However, part II: where’s the guarantee that won’t change 3 years down the road?

    30% is a very high royalty fee for simply delivering / hosting software.

      • Voldenuit
      • 10 months ago

      I agree that 30% is very high today. But compared to physical distribution, which had big cuts (30-40%) from the publisher and retailer in addition to upfront manufacturing costs, it was quite attractive at the time. Once Valve, Apple and Google all settled on the same number, it became standard.

      Hopefully (for consumers and developers), Epic’s pricing will start a new revolution in publishing and distribution costs.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 10 months ago

    As long as there aren’t more storefront exclusive titles, i think it’s a good thing. Big AAA titles can deal with the 30% valve tax, but for indies it’s asking a bit too much.

      • Voldenuit
      • 10 months ago

      [quote<]As long as there aren't more storefront exclusive titles, i think it's a good thing. Big AAA titles can deal with the 30% valve tax, but for indies it's asking a bit too much.[/quote<] It's actually the AAA publishers that are fragmenting the storefront/launchers, because they want to get away from paying Valve the 30% and have sufficient userbase, funds and advertising to create their own storefronts. This is why EA made Origin, Ubi made UPlay (though they kept selling new games on Steam), and Activision sold CoDBlOps 4 on Battle.net instead of Steam, and why we have launchers for Fortnite and Bethesda.net (real creative there, Bethesda) for Fallout76 (and will presumably reuse for TES6, Blades and Starfield). You're right that the indies need the money more than the big publishers, but Valve is bending backwards to appeal to the big guys because they're the ones most likely to break off.

    • Chrispy_
    • 10 months ago

    The problem with these stores is that they’re aimed at the developers, not the customers.

    It’s the customers who choose where to spend their money and GoG covers the only significant demographic that Valve doesn’t.

    Many stores and software markets have tried the “woo developers” strategyu before and it isn’t a valid strategy. Customers want all their stuff in one place as conveniently as possible and how much profit the developers make is not a primary concern. I actively avoid buying games that require a non-Steam piece of software to install (I’ll tolerate non-Steam versions only for promotional games that I was given for free). If valve ever completely **** the bed, I’ll import my Steam library to GoG.

    I’m sure I don’t represent every PC gamer, but among my peers and friends, PC gaming means Steam games by default and exceptions are rarely made.

      • thor84no
      • 10 months ago

      Steam made a good enough client and a good enough distribution network early in the game and put a few “must have” games on there to start with. Ever since they’ve done the bare minimum of work on their client to not scare away their user base, though I’ll grant they’ve done pretty good work on the distribution side. Ultimately though, if providing a better platform was enough to lure people away it would have happened already. The Steam client is awful to this day.

      I don’t see anything changing the status quo barring legislation demanding that platforms like Steam open up the ability to transfer your owned games to other platforms. It’s just too significant a buy in to uproot, and people don’t really want to have their games split across many platforms, it’s a nuisance. A minor nuisance I’ll admit, but that’s enough when Steam is juuust good enough to not feel like you have to.

      • thedosbox
      • 10 months ago

      As someone who largely plays single-player, I don’t care about having “all my stuff in one place”, steam achievements, trading cards, or all the other psychological hooks Valve have implemented.

      I do care that smaller developers have viable marketplaces for their work, otherwise the variety of games will be limited to whatever the AAA executives deem profitable.

        • sweatshopking
        • 10 months ago

        90 percent of steams features are bloat in my opinion. Sell stuff don’t bug me, and we’re good.

          • Chrispy_
          • 10 months ago

          Oh, Steam’s interface is a mess alright, and you’re right – gamers just want access to their games with the minimum of fuss and the maximum convenience.

          Despite the bloat and feature-creep, Valve still leads the pack in both regards. Part of the convenience is that you don’t need several alternative publisher apps all running and updating in the background, popping up notifications and advertising, and other junk that you simply can’t turn off. Steam is no better than the rest in that regard, but by having Steam you [b<]don't[/b<] have to have the dozen other POS store applications instead. One day, Blizzard will join Steam and then I can truly have just one game launcher/store installed. Did someone say EA? Oh, I've been boycotting them for years and fail to understand why others perpetuate their continued, miserable and destructive existence.

          • K-L-Waster
          • 10 months ago

          Most of the games I play are from Steam, and I can go literally weeks without even looking at their UI. Disable the Steam notifications about achievements and other irrelevancies, create shortcuts to the game launchers, and you have, well, pretty much what you just asked for…

            • sweatshopking
            • 10 months ago

            You could make the same argument about the others. These days I’m mostly using uwp games, since I’ve been playing Forza and state of decay 2.

            • EndlessWaves
            • 10 months ago

            How do you get it to shut down with the game?

      • NovusBogus
      • 10 months ago

      I’m a GOG-or-bust guy but otherwise I agree completely. It might be more understandable if publishers were better about supporting all the digital distribution platforms, but they invariably pick one or two and then call it a day. The whole reason I take issue with Steam in the first place is I don’t want to mess with logins and random web services just to play a single player game.

      The industry doesn’t need yet another walled garden. But whatever, they’ll learn their lesson the same way Stardock and many others have.

      • One Sick Puppy
      • 10 months ago

      Ya, Steam to rule them all for me, too. Not interested in installing all sorts of different services.

      • Flapdrol
      • 10 months ago

      I don’t care anymore, have everything installed. Steam, gog, uplay, origin, battle.net, epic launcher, mwo launcher, elite dangerous launcher and maybe some more.

    • DoomGuy64
    • 10 months ago

    Great, another store that further segments the market. Now everbody has a store, and the consumer has 50 background processes with 50 different popups.

    By next year, we’ll all be forced into buying threadrippers just to handle all the bloat.

    What’s next? The bonzai buddy store? This needs to stop. Somebody should just create an open source store that puts all these other wannabes out of business. Bare minimum, there needs to be a global manager of stores that lets me log into every store from a single account. Like using my google account, because these other stores can’t seem to bother remembering my password, and force me to re-verify every time I want to play something.

      • thedosbox
      • 10 months ago

      [quote<]and the consumer has 50 background processes.[/quote<] I've never understood this complaint. Steam, Origin and Uplay all have a "run when windows starts" option that can be unchecked, leaving nothing running when you're not gaming. Sure, they'll load in the background when you start the game, but we're not dealing with single-core CPU's and 512MB of memory. At least, I hope not.

        • Redocbew
        • 10 months ago

        The thinking seems to be that a greater number of threads/processes means greater resource usage, but that’s not necessarily the case.

          • HisDivineOrder
          • 10 months ago

          It COULD be the case when they all decide to update simultaneously. And your internet connection.

          That seems the more likely problem to me. Plus, more services does mean more opportunities for data breaches to affect you.

          [url<]https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2018/03/12/fortnite-accounts-hacked-how-to-protect-yourself-and-what-to-do-if-youve-been-compromised/#25410e00a7f9[/url<]

            • thedosbox
            • 10 months ago

            1) Simultaneous updates are only a risk if you’re letting them run when windows starts. As I said, there is the option to disable this in Steam, Uplay and Origin.

            2) I already have 100 logins to various stores, companies and sites. Adding 2 – 3 more is not going to increase my risk profile significantly – unless I were stupid enough to reuse passwords.

            • brucek2
            • 10 months ago

            Boot a windows 10 box and watch the process manager and network traffic. It is absolutely the case that as time has gone by the number of entities that try to update shortly after boot or sign on has skyrocketed. This includes both entities you already think of a separate product (like Steam) but also lots you never even knew you had (alll sorts of Microsoft feeds for who knows what purposes etc.) The latter category may not offer any obvious user configuration options.

            I have a couple of seldom-used older laptops and on both I know better then to try to use them in the first 10 minutes after boot up.

          • thedosbox
          • 10 months ago

          Right, it’s a nonsense argument. Regardless of which storefront you’re using, something has to load in the background unless you’re playing the DRM-free version from GOG. Whether it’s steam or something else doesn’t particularly matter.

          With some serious competition, there is now some incentive for Valve to actually improve steam.

          • NovusBogus
          • 10 months ago

          It’s also a greater number of things that are probably spying on your and/or getting compromised by the bad guys.

            • Redocbew
            • 10 months ago

            Well yeah, there is the removal of cruft, and then there is black magic voodoo. I’ve complained plenty about how I find new installs of Win10 to be all but unusable without the application of a few powershell scripts, but I’m not going to say one system is “cleaner” than another just by counting background processes. That’s not how it works.

        • DoomGuy64
        • 10 months ago

        This isn’t about just mere background processes people. I have a Ryzen CPU, and speed isn’t the issue. It’s the HASSLE. Other than steam and GOG, every other service constantly FORGETS my password, or de-activates my PC from non-use, and forces me to re-verify my account through a series of hoops. NOT COOL. Blizzard and EA are the only two other major stores I use, and at this point in time I have done EXACTLY what was suggested. COMPLETELY DISABLED THE SOFTWARE, AND I WILL NEVER PLAY THOSE GAMES AGAIN, BECAUSE THEY REQUIRE THE STORE TO LAUNCH. If I ever wanted to play those games again, I would have to jump through gigabytes of updates and re-verification processes. That, or outright piracy, because pirated games don’t do this. (So who now wants to advocate piracy to justify all these stores?)

        Ok. Some people seem to also have limited memory of all the stores that have gone under and deleted libraries of games from customers. I can’t remember all the ones that have died since steam opened, but I have been personally burned by at least two or three. Stardock’s store, the GOG competitor, the indie and mod store, and the one online store that I never backed up. Just no. I would rather buy digital software from amazon, google, Microsoft, or anyone else who has a reputation of stability.

        Bethesda is getting on my nerves as well, with what they’re doing. I might buy Doom Eternal, but that’s it. They will never get another purchase from me again if they don’t release games on steam.

          • thedosbox
          • 10 months ago

          Sounds like you want a console instead.

          • Ifalna
          • 10 months ago

          Blizzards launcher is the only one I am fine with. It runs fast, doesn’t eat many resources and close to never asks for my password.

        • Ifalna
        • 10 months ago

        Yeah but it’s a bit weird.
        I launch steam because I want to play Assassins Creed (sue me) and then steam launches that Uplay thingy…. which then finally launches the actual game.

        Erm… why is there a need for that?

        • EndlessWaves
        • 10 months ago

        Unfortunately that option doesn’t shut them down after the game has finished, which it really should.

      • ClickClick5
      • 10 months ago

      I finally gave up on these stores. I had Steam, Origin, and the Ubisoft one for a while. Then at a point said, “forget it”, and uninstalled all the stores except steam. The policy is simple now. If steam does not have it, nor will I.

      A physical copy would still be ok.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 10 months ago

        I usually stick to that same Steam and Only Steam kind of party line, but I’d be inclined to buy indie stuff that’s available on the Unreal store knowing a small studio would get get a bigger cut than if I bought it on Steam.

      • drfish
      • 10 months ago

      [url<]https://xkcd.com/927/[/url<]

      • blastdoor
      • 10 months ago

      [quote<]Somebody should just create an open source store that puts all these other wannabes out of business.[/quote<] Funny how nobody is rushing in to make zero money doing that. In the abstract, people always want perfectly competitive markets and lots of choices. But when the rubber meets the road, people don't really want a lot of choices because the cost of sorting through them all is too high. In reality, it often works out that regulated monopolistic competition is the best solution. But "regulation bad! keep gubberment out of my guns!" and so what we get is unregulated monopolistic competition, which degenerated into unregulated monopoly. Thanks, Obama.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 10 months ago

      And who do you think made this store paradigm the standard?

      There’s absolutely no reason games can’t run like any other application, all these auto-launch clients are purely to improve advertising.

      Let’s go back to games running like normal applications and you won’t have this problem.

    • superjawes
    • 10 months ago

    Valve can probably match this without missing a beat. We know that Steam makes ALL the money, and Valve do still get a cut of in-game purchases as well. Even if Valve don’t give more to the developers/publishers, sheer inertia might keep Epic from getting off the ground (since everybody already uses Steam for instant accessibility).

    Don’t misunderstand me. We need competition for PC digital sales, and I hope Epic find success, but getting a win like this is far from automatic.

    • Khali
    • 10 months ago

    Looks like they have checked several boxes for the game developers. How about a few for the consumers like refunds and insuring the store isn’t flooded with a bunch of crap games no one is interested in.

      • Sigma0004
      • 10 months ago

      Agreed. Here’s hoping that they continue with the hand-curation for new games on their storefront which also checks another box for self-respecting developers for them not have to fight to be noticed among a tsunami of shovelware as it is with Steam.

      • shaq_mobile
      • 10 months ago

      I’d still like to see Epic Launcher become more of a platform. Steam offers a lot that Epic hasn’t mentioned anything about. There are a lot of games that have been developed to be attached at the hip to Steam. Friends, server browsing, and steam marketplace are heavily integrated into a lot of games. Server browsing specifically is an important feature that Steam offers that Epic doesn’t. Being able to use Steam’s environment for hosting/finding servers alone is a huge benefit for smaller dev’s that are working on MP games.

      The fees are great. Epic struck gold with fartnite and they are definitely paying it forward. They’ve been doing a purchasing program on their UE4 Marketplace that allows devs to download a handful of packs they select, every month, for free. They also expose a lot of the engine changes they make for their games to us. Not to mention that when Paragon failed, they repackaged all that content for us and generously organized, scripted, and walked us through how to use them all.

      They aren’t perfect, but they are definitely investing their profits into their games, platform, and engine. It’s pretty exciting. 🙂

    • RoxasForTheWin
    • 10 months ago

    I wonder if this’ll pick up some serious momentum. Not gonna pretend I know the economics of game making but this seems to really undercut Steam as a whole, especially with the rise of UE4 seemingly everywhere these days

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 months ago

      I would be inclined to buy indie-type titles on an Unreal store instead of Steam specifically because of the smaller cut the developer loses.

      • LostCat
      • 10 months ago

      I buy digital to support devs as well as play games without bothering with stores, I’ll dig in.

    • enixenigma
    • 10 months ago

    Oh, snap! Shots fired, yo!

    • the
    • 10 months ago

    Epic just threw down a gauntlet.

    The appropriate retort from Valve would be to answer in kind with a crowbar.

      • K-L-Waster
      • 10 months ago

      And without saying anything else, of course.

    • chuckula
    • 10 months ago

    Gabe Newell:

    I’m gonna give you to the count of that number after two to get outta here!!

    One!
    Two!
    Two Episode One!!
    Two Episode Two!!

    . . .

    I forgot what I was doing.

      • RickyTick
      • 10 months ago

      Ok, that might just be the funniest post you’ve ever made. Nice work.

      • Voldenuit
      • 10 months ago

      I’m starting to think that Valve are like the Gully Dwarves from Dragonlance (any number bigger than two is just, ‘two’).

        • psuedonymous
        • 10 months ago

        Or Pratchett’s Troll counting system: One, Two, Many, Lots.

      • Chrispy_
      • 10 months ago

      Straight for the jugular; Gabe deserves nothing less 😉

      • jihadjoe
      • 10 months ago

      But Steam’s cut is 30%!

      See, Valve and Gabe can count to three, but only when it comes to taking money from developers.

        • Voldenuit
        • 10 months ago

        Well, technically 30% is only 0.30, so they haven’t canonically broken 2 yet…

      • Krogoth
      • 10 months ago

      Joking aside.

      HL2:EP3/HL3 was murdered by DNF, Halo and COD franchises.

      HL2:EP3/HL3’s plot was starting to becoming like a Halo lite (Alien invasion, megastructures, savior archetype). The FPS demographics shifted towards COD and BF clones. The backlash from Duke Nukem Forever’s mixed reception despite its long development time was the final nail in HL2:EP3/HL3’s coffin.

      Valve didn’t want to risk sinking Steam from the inevitable backlash of a “lackluster” HL3 release. Most of the original talent behind HL1/HL2 already had left for greener fields around the release of TF2. Valve decided to quietly distance themselves from the HL franchise and move onto other more lucrative projects. They only keep HL3 around as an inside joke/meme.

        • psuedonymous
        • 10 months ago

        DNF was release 4 years after Episode 2. Any decisions to can development of Episode 3 would have been taken long before then.

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