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.