Epic Games started life in the digital distribution field, receiving praise for finally creating some real competition for Steam. Steam has been dominating the landscape for well over a decade without any real threat of competition. The Epic Store originally launched on the back of offering developers better revenue splits when compared to the Steam marketplace. Little did we know that Epic Games would totally disregard the end user, forcing you into using their store front or to go without. The latest game in the Metro franchise was expected to be available via Steam right up until the minute that Epic came along and grabbed it as an exclusive, rightly annoying gamers all over the globe.
Digital distribution could do with some competition but this war on exclusives does nothing other than forcing players onto platforms they wouldn’t otherwise be using. Epic Games is bullying its way into the marketplace instead of creating a platform gamers want to use. The User Interface over on the Epic Store is modern but is lacking many basic features which users have had access to over on Steam for years now. If Epic really intend on providing some worthwhile competition they should first focus on making good games easier to find, along with essential social features including groups. Steam may not be perfect but it merges gaming with the social experience through curators and groups.
Fortnite firmly placed Epic Games in a very profitable position to take advantages of the millions upon millions of Fortnite players, streamers, content creators and influencers. One of the first casualties within Epic Games was Paragon, a first person MOBA spin-off. After struggling to achieve any mainstream success it did have a fairly dedicated community. The multiple revamps to in game mechanics didn’t help any. Once Epic was firmly back at the top with Fortnite it didn’t take long before the Epic Games store announcement and from there things moved pretty quickly. As of today, some of the biggest releases expected in the next 12 months have been strong armed into being Epic exclusives. This does little to improve anything for gamers and simply having a better revenue split does not mean this is anything worth looking forward too.
Epic won’t be able to continue throwing money around but where it will stop is anybody’s guess with the continued success of Fortnite. Jim Sterling is one of my idols within games journalism and I highly recommend you check out his video on the Epic store and business practices.
Jim Sterling rightly points out that capitalism is a brutal place for competition and without some real changes we shouldn’t expect things to be any different. Whether we like it or not the Epic Games store is the only competition we will see to Steam in the near future.