Not that long ago we looked at the many ways Steam has severely gone downhill over recent years and even listed some viable alternatives. There weren’t many, and each had its own fair share of problems holding them back from competing with Steam in a real way. However, it appears we may finally get some competition for the defacto monopoly on PC Gaming software.
Epic Games has introduced a new revenue sharing system making it drastically cheaper to sell your games on the Epic Games Store in the face of new criticisms against Steam’s tiered system, and they’re even making it cheaper to make games with Unreal Engine 4, which has already seen a historically affordable IDE (Interactive Development Environment) compared to previous generations of the engine.
As publishers like Activision Blizzard, EA Games, and Ubisoft continue to focus on their own self-owned digital gaming storefronts on PC, Steam has caved to pressures from growing concern that they could end up not hosting several large releases each year. This would draw players away from Steam and into other ecosystems where they may spend more and invest their time into other platforms such as Origin, UPlay, or Battle.net, reducing the amount of time Steam has to market games to them.
In response to this Valve has announced that Steam would introduce a better revenue share, but only for massive games that reach over $10 million USD in revenue. Said games will be able to enjoy a 75% cut of the revenue made on the title instead of the standard 70%. If the title reaches over $50 million USD in revenue then the game’s publisher will receive 80% of the revenue. This new tiered system has also been introduced as a retroactive system and will be applied to pay-outs as of October 1, 2018. To put that into perspective, less than 3% of games sold on Steam made over $1 million USD in 2015.
That’s why this move has garnered plenty of criticism to say the least, as perhaps such a move that only benefits massive publishers and developers would have been best announced in a more private manner rather than publicly broadcasting it as indie developers are offered no change whatsoever to their earnings. To be fair, 30% cuts for digital stores has been the norm for stores like Apple’s iTunes App Store and Google Play. But even those companies have began to introduce changes or opportunities for making more cash as a dev. Many felt that Valve’s announcement has been tone-deaf and shows desperation. Rather than celebrating, many are unhappy with it.
Epic Games has seized the moment in perfect timing for an attempt at taking some market share away from Steam with their Epic Games Store by announcing a completely universal system in which digital games sold by publishers or indie devs alike earn more money. The store allows for all developers / publishers to earn 88% of the revenue they generate, making Epic Games’ cut only 12% (the lowest in the industry). Even better, if the game is made on Unreal Engine 4, Epic Games will forgo their usual 5% revenue fee!
In addition to providing a better financial situation for developers, there is also a supported creator program. Through this system YouTube content creators, Twitch live-streamers, Bloggers, and others will be able to gain a share of the revenue they generate through game recommendations within their content if developers opt-in. Epic Games will cover the first 5% of this program for the initial 24 months of its launch to help companies test it out for less.
In addition to these benefits to not only devs but also games media, there are also a number of ways that Epic plans to have their store focused on gamers themselves as well. To summarize;
- Involved community
- Direct Developer to Player relationships
- Connect with Creators
- No ads on Game Pages, no ads in search results
- All game engines are welcomed
- Customer support and an active, invested store owner
Epic Games Store will launch some time in the near future with a larger reveal taking place during The Game Awards this Thursday, December 6, 2018. The service is primarily focused on PC games but will also branch out to Android devices and “other open platforms” (perhaps Linux is among them) some time in 2019.
You can read more about Epic Games Store by reading their blog.