Steam is a bit of a behemoth to try and take on, but Epic Games—who must be absolutely brimming with both self-confidence and money thanks to the monumental success of Fortnite—are going to do just that.
In a blog post over on the Unreal Engine website, Epic Games has announced that they are launching their own digital store that will launch with “a hand-curated set of games on PC and Mac, then it will open up more broadly to other games and to Android and other open platforms throughout 2019.” In other words, the Epic Games Store will start small and then build up to bigger things as it goes. Makes sense.
I know what you’re thinking, because it’ll be the exact same thing that I thought: “how do they plan on taking business away from Steam?”. It’s a very good question, Steam is an absolute monster of a digital store to take on, but there is one distinctive and eye-catching difference between the Epic Games Store and Steam, and that is the cut that will go to developers. Steam currently takes quite a sizable 30% cut of revenue made on their platform (and they recently announced that they will take slightly less once a game makes certain amounts of revenue), but Epic Games are planning to take just a 12% cut of revenue, with a staggering 88% going straight to the games developers. Not only that, but if the developer is using Unreal Engine then Epic will cover the 5% engine royalty for sales out of their own cut:
“Developers receive 88% of revenue. There are no tiers or thresholds. Epic takes 12%. And if you’re using Unreal Engine, Epic will cover the 5% engine royalty for sales on the Epic Games store, out of Epic’s 12%.”
So, the Epic Games Store will be considerably more beneficial for developers than Steam will be, and rightly so. The developers make the bloody game, so they deserve to take a sizable cut of revenue, and Epic will still make a decent amount if a game is successful. The Epic Games Store will certainly be a more appealing prospect to indie developers. In an interview with Game Informer, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney discussed the revenue split further, saying:
“The 70/30 percent split was a breakthrough more than a decade ago with the advent of Steam, the Apple App Store, and Google Play. But today, digital software stores have grown into a $25,000,000,000+ business worldwide across all platforms, yet the economies of scale have not benefited developers. In our analysis, stores are marking up their costs 300 percent to 400 percent. We simply aim to give developers a better deal.”
It’s great to see a company make a move like this that aims to benefit everybody rather than just themselves. The term “share the wealth” comes to mind, and let’s be honest, Epic can afford it. For sure, if you’re buying a game that’s available on both platforms and you want to support the developer as much as possible, then the Epic Games Store will be the best choice.
The Epic Games Store will also automatically subscribe people who buy a game to the developers newsfeed, allowing players to easily keep up to date with news and updates regarding their purchase. Developers will also have full control over their games page and newsfeed, and there will be no store-placed ads or cross-marketing of competing games on those pages. Also, the Epic Games Store will integrate the Support-A-Creator program, which is designed to connect developers to content creators, such as YouTubers or Twitch streamers. Content creators that refer players to buy a game will then also receive a cut of that games revenue, with the amount dependent on the agreement that they have with the developer.
What all of this tells me is that Epic Games very much has their ears to the ground and that they’ve been doing a lot of forward-thinking. Epic are clearly recognizing the ever-increasing shift towards digital purchases as well as the growing influence of YouTubers and streamers, and it’s no surprise that they have their fingers firmly on the pulse given that they are the creators of the biggest cultural phenomenon of modern times and have absolutely revolutionized the free to play game. Fortnite’s unrivaled success has given Epic Games the financial might that will be needed to take on such an established platform like Steam, and that financial might is allowing them to take this much smaller cut that will lean developers in their favour, but that doesn’t mean that customers will be tempted away from Steam. Although a large group of people would want to make sure that more money went to the developers of their game, a lot of people won’t care and will just stick with Steam out of familiarity, so Epic will surely have to do something to entice gamers to buy from their platform.
More details are due to be released at The Game Awards on December 6th, and I can’t wait to see how this develops.