„OPINION” – Epic Games Store is expanding. We hear it more and more: a game is quitting Steam only to be available via its publisher’s launcher, or via Epic Games Store (usually in a timed exclusive format)…
Epic Games started going aggressively after The Game Awards (or at least I remember it happening around December 6…), when they launched their store. Not even two months have passed since Tim Sweeney’s digital storefront launching. A few things have happened since…
Epic Games Store‘s launcher was installed on my PC for multiple years because, during one of the TGA shows, they offered Shadow Complex Remastered for free, but I never had time to start it, even though it’s still installed 😀 Still, they try to lure in people by offering a different game for free every two weeks. Now, some Jackbox Party Pack is offered for free, and it will be followed by Axiom Verge next.
Here comes the thought where previously, Epic Games were accused of sending data to the Chinese Communist Party, but Sweeney has strictly denied such rumours. (Still, objectively, we have to say this: one of the Chinese tech companies, namely Tencent, has 40% of the shares of Epic. There could be some sort of relation here.)
However, it’s not the major scandal around the company at the moment. More and more games started to turn towards exclusivity. Here’s a list. Ashen, Dauntless, The Division 2, Fortnite, Genesis Alpha One, Hades, Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek (after the base game, why make a prequel for this…?), Journey (yep, it’s coming to PC shortly), Maneater, Metro: Exodus, Operencia: The Stolen Sun, Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw, Satisfactory, Super Meat Boy Forever, The Walking Dead: The Final Season, Unreal Tournament (which is no longer in development because of Fortnite – goddamnit), World War Z. You can see a few AAA games here. Namely, The Division 2 and Metro Exodus…
With Metro Exodus, the main issue is that three weeks before its launch day, Deep Silver decided to announce that „sorry guys, the game will be exclusive to Epic Games Store for a year!” Sure, aside from honouring the Steam / Humble Bundle preorders, it’s a bold move, especially how it caused the Steam reviews of Metro 2033’s and Metro Last Light’s Redux version getting bombed by negative ratings. (And there’s also the question of Denuvo. Deep Silver seems to love using it, and I seem to love not buying games with it – if they get rid of the system requirement-increasing, making-the-exe-ten-times-bigger crap, I’d have already bought The Quiet Man… and I’m stopping here. I have a lot of negative experiences with DRM!) Epic has likely given a ton of money to Koch Media, the owners of Deep Silver (let’s not forget that Epic’s Fortnite is a financial success…), and the whole thing got the approval of THQ Nordic AB’s CEO. (THQ Nordic AB has Koch Media, THQ Nordic GmbH (publishers of Darksiders 3), and Coffee Stain (Goat Simulator) – complicated…).
However, this sudden switch of stores meant that they screwed people over who do not want to have an Epic Games Store account, as well as installing another launcher on their PC. Steam. Origin. uPlay. Epic Games Store. (Previously Desura.) Optionally GOG Galaxy. Bethesda launcher. It’s too much. And what else could be behind the move than money? While Steam takes a 30% cut of the revenue (which is less if more sales are generated), but Epic only takes 12%. (Meanwhile, we Europeans have to pay 60 euros for Metro: Exodus, while the US price is 50 dollars. Fair?)
The main problem altogether is that exclusivity starts to surface on PC. A game is only available in one place, and nowhere else. So far, only consoles had this thought, but the lack of parity is now appearing on PC. You can no longer go on Steam and buy the game there on day one. You can’t get them all with a single launcher/service. Although it causes competition for Valve/Steam (about time), us, the consumers, get screwed over. Aside from the possible Chinese spying (or not), there are a lot of functions missing on Epic Games Store that you can find on Steam. Cloud saves, user profiles, user reviews, forums, mod distribution, groups, item trading, game library sorting, account sharing, streaming to other devices, image saving/sharing, user guides, wishlists. Let’s face it: this list is too big. Epic Games Store might have launched way before it was ready, don’t you think?
The aggressive expansion helps Epic (who can afford it, remember), however, the consumers might not take the switch that kindly. Epic wants us to go and give Fortnite a shot as it’s easily accessible over their launcher… but maybe, just maybe, if the games were cheaper here than on Steam, and if they were cheaper worldwide, with bringing in the missing functions, then maybe Tim Sweeney’s ridiculously fast expansion might be taken more positively. And we still see the beginning of Epic’s gigantic growth.
In the end, the pistol of Chekhov was shot while the consumer held it: it’s up to them to make the Epic step, or be in a cloud of Steam and stay where they are. Currently, the new digital store does not look advantageous for us. Aside from the free games, I do not see many reasons to make the jump.