Epic Games Store
|Initial release||December 6, 2018|
|Available in||13 languages|
Epic's own games will be exclusively available through its store and the company plans to fund developers to release exclusively through their store, using revenue guarantees to developers that opt for this, with Epic paying the difference should a game underperform.
Epic plans to offer one free game every two weeks through 2019.
Prior to the Epic Games Store, the principal digital distribution channel for personal computer games was Valve's Steam, though other competitors like GOG.com, Origin and Uplay existed. Valve took a 30% revenue cut of all games sold via Steam, which at the time Steam launched was comparable to other digital distribution networks like the App Store. In August 2017, Epic's Tim Sweeney suggested that 30% was no longer a reasonable cut, and that Valve could still profit if they cut their revenue share to 8%.
In early December 2018, Epic Games announced that it would open a digital storefront to challenge Steam. Epic planned to compete with Valve on game developers' share of profits: 88% with Epic, against 70% with Valve. Epic would also forgo the standard 5% revenue fee normally applied to games using the Unreal Engine if they were published on the Epic Game Store. By Epic's calculations, the storefront's reduced portion of profits was sufficient to be profitable. Epic also said that it wouldn't impose digital rights management (DRM) restrictions on games sold through its platform. The store opened days later, on December 6, 2018, as part of the Game Awards, with a handful of games and a short list of upcoming titles. The store is expected to open for macOS and Windows platforms before expanding to Android and other platforms. Epic aims to release a storefront for Android devices, bypassing the Google Play Store, where it will similarly only take a 12% cut compared to Google's 30%. While Apple, Inc.'s monopoly on iOS currently makes it impossible for Epic to release an App Store there, analysts believe that if Google reacts to Epic's App Store by reducing their cut, Apple will be pressured to follow suit.
Prior to the store's launch, its Director of Publishing Strategy, Sergey Galyonkin, had run Steam Spy, a website that collected Steam usage data from public profiles to create public sales statistics. He ran the site as a side-project, but used it to learn what developers would want from Epic's store, namely fewer social elements and less visual clutter. The store will be hand-curated until it opens to developer submissions in mid-2019. Once at this point, Epic's staff will still need to approve games for the store, a process that "mostly focus[es] on the technical side of things and general quality", according to Tim Sweeney. Epic does not plan to allow adults-only mature content on the store.
In January 2019, Ubisoft announced its plans to distribute its games via the Epic Games Store, with its upcoming Tom Clancy's The Division 2 to be sold exclusively on the storefront (in addition to its own UPlay storefront), making it the first major third-party publisher to utilize the Epic Games Store.
The Epic Games Store was announced a few days after Valve had revealed a change in the Steam revenue sharing model that reduced Valve's take, reducing their revenue cut from 30% to 25% after a game made more than US$10 million, and to 20% after US$50 million. Several indie game developers expressed concern that this change was meant to help keep larger AAA developers and publishers and did little to support smaller developers. As such, when the Epic Games Store was announced, several journalists saw it as potentially disruptive to Steam's current model. Some developers have already announced plans to release games that they were planning to release through Steam now exclusively through the Epic Games Store, or to have time-exclusivity on Epic's storefront before appearing on other services.
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