Inviting the wrath of diehard Steam fans, Epic Games continues to snap up Epic Store exclusives by throwing millions at developers to coax them away from Valve’s platform.
How does a newcomer chip away at such an entrenched market? No competitor has yet to successfully rival Steam’s dominance as the go-to digital storefront for PC games, partly due to the sheer breadth of its catalog.
The answer is simple – money, and lots of it. Through Fortnite’s ongoing and lucrative success, Epic Games has amassed a substantial war chest and isn’t shying away from using to secure the hottest upcoming games.
Rebellion’s Switch To Exclusivity
In what is an unusually candid revelation, Rebellion Developments co-founder Jason Kingsley shed light on just how enticing Epic Games’ money can be. During a talk at the Develop:Brighton event this week, Kinglsey said that Epic is;
paying through the nose to build their store.
Rebellion’s case is particularly enlighting of how aggressively Epic is cajoling developers over to its platform. No less than a month ago, Kingsley explained his reluctance to shift upcoming title Zombie Army 4: Dead War over to an exclusive Epic Store release unless presented with sufficient impetus to do so. It appears Epic’s money was motivating enough – Zombie Army 4: Dead War will now release as an Epic Store exclusive.
The embarrassment of the U-turn aside, Kingsley explained he understood Epic’s approach, saying;
All credit to them, it’s fantastic, and we’ll take some of their money, thank you very much.
Kingsley isn’t alone in seeing the appeal of indirectly benefitting from Fortnite. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint exact sums, developers feel the financial incentives of switching to the Epic Games Store are substantial enough to warrant weathering backlash from gaming fans. After all, money talks and game development is expensive. Epic is acutely aware of the fact.
Epic Game Store exclusivity makes sound business sense. For many developers, Epic’s tantalizing offer can be the difference between a studio staying afloat or closing its doors and can even put them in good stead for years to come.
Epic Stepping In To Help Handle Backlash
The backlash of exclusivity isn’t a mere annoyance, though. Several well-publicized examples prove just how intense resistance can be.
When Kickstarter-backed Shenmue 3 was announced as an Epic Game Store exclusive back in June, many fans who had made a down payment on the title with their hard-earned cash were understandably dismayed.
Throughout the campaign, there was a tacit understanding the game would launch on Steam. The logo for Valve’s storefront peppered trailers, and many of the tiered pledges featured Steam keys, so there was little doubt in the minds of backers that Shenmue 3 was heading to Steam. Developer Ys Net’s decision to go all-in on the Epic Games Store was a punch in the gut for many.
As backers clamored for refunds, Epic stepped in and promised to foot the bill, going so far as to guarantee the same for all games that suffer a similar fate when transitioning to Epic Store exclusivity. The move shows just how committed Epic is to the strategy.
When future games go Epic-exclusive after offering crowdfunding rewards on other PC stores, we’ll either coordinate with colleagues at the other stores to ensure key availability in advance, or guarantee refunds at announcement time.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) July 2, 2019
Only time will tell how far Epic Games can go in drawing consumers away from Steam, but announcements of new exclusives pop up almost weekly. A tipping point is on the horizon, and Epic is throwing its financial might around to ensure it happens sooner rather than later.