Why is the Epic Games Store facing so much backlash of late? What’s with all the Epic Games Store exclusive games cropping up and games pulling themselves off of Steam? What does this mean for PC gaming? Well, we’re going to try and get to the bottom of all that.
When it comes to the digital distribution of games and an online games store for PC games, Steam has been king of the hill for as long as one can remember. Attempts have been made in the past to challenge the behemoth that is Steam, but they’ve tickled the giant at most. The launch of the Epic Games Store in December last year was, or rather is, the first digital store to actually give Steam a run for its money. Okay, we don’t know if it’s actually giving Steam a run for its money, but it’s definitely doing more than the tickling anything prior to it has managed.
Too much is too much
Personally, we think that too many different game stores is an annoying thing to have to deal with. Different places to keep track of your games, different accounts that you need to remember passwords for, different launchers that you need to keep updated. We’ve already got so many launchers to deal with on PC. Steam, the Blizzard app, Uplay, Origin, GOG Galaxy, lesser known ones like Glyph, and now the Epic Games Launcher.
Competition is great for the consumer, however, it fragments the market. While Steam was on top, this wasn’t an issue, we’d regretfully hop onto Origin every once in a while to play Apex, or open the Blizzard app to play Starcraft II or Overwatch every now and then, but for the most part, Steam is our home.
Steam is good
PC gaming today is synonymous with Steam. Why? Steam is good. It’s got a ton of features you’d want, and now, expect from a game launcher. There’s a reason it’s good. It’s been around for ages. It had its issues in the past. There was a time when people absolutely did not want anything to do with Steam, and cursed the fact that you needed to have it installed in order to play the new Half Life game. Even worse was the fact that you needed an internet connection in order to validate your copy of the game.
If we were to take a look at Steam’s biggest competitor prior to the Epic Games Store, it would be GOG Galaxy. We’re not including the Blizzard app, Uplay, or Origin here because they cater only games they publish themselves. Now calling GOG Galaxy Steam’s biggest competitor is an overstatement, it really didn’t do anything to affect Steam. Which is totally fine. It was still a decent alternative to Steam, and it had its own deals and features. One of the biggest ones being no DRM on any of their games. The thing about GOG Galaxy is that it did not disrupt the PC gaming world at all. It simply existed as an alternative but it was understood that it posed no threat to Steam. Epic Games on the other hand, does.
Big money=big disruption
Epic Games are in a pretty good place right now, financially. They’ve got revenue from Unreal Engine, which is used by plenty of popular games in the industry. Then of course there’s Fortnite, their cash cow, that’s raking in moolah. Finally, there’s the fact that 40% of Epic is owned by Tencent. Both Epic and Valve have massive amounts of wealth behind them. This gives them massive pull, enough pull to actually change or disrupt the market.
Unfortunately, the Epic Games Store is a newcomer while Steam is a veteran in the market. Steam has gotten to a point where gamers trust the platform completely. In Epic’s case, as far as we’re concerned, we don’t think or know if they have what it takes to actually pull this off (derailing Steam’s position in this space). The solution isn’t always throwing money at things, which is what it looks like Epic is doing right now. We’re talking about all the exclusivity deals they’re making right now. A lot of games, such as Metro Exodus, Borderlands 3, Supergiant Games’ Hades, Ashen and more are exclusive or timed exclusives to the Epic Games Store. This obviously has gamers miffed because they have to leave the comfort of Steam to play on the Epic Games Store that has only 10% of the features Steam offers. They’re being forced to leave behind convenience like cloud saving and achievements. Being forced to do anything is not a nice feeling. Us gamers, we like having choice.
Publishers are more than happy to sign exclusivity deals, it brings them more money. Ultimately, that’s what they care about. So the Epic Games Exclusivity deals probably aren’t going anywhere, at least for a while.
There is some good
However, it’s not all bad. The Epic Games Store offers better incentive rates to developers, this indirectly means that developers are more likely to offer lower prices on the Epic Games Store. However, in its current state, moving to the Epic Games Store is a gamble unless you know your game is going to sell. Huge AAA game publishers know that their games are going to sell regardless of whether they got on the Epic Games Store or not. The fact that they make more money, thanks to the better incentive rates, and get a nice amount for exclusivity, makes it an easy deal to get into. For indie developers though, it’s risky, there’s no guarantee that their game will sell well on the Epic Games Store. It could even be detrimental, and those who wanted to buy the game might not simply because it’s on the Epic Games Store.
We’ve also seen that Epic is willing to listen. This is rather important. One of the things Steam had going for it was regional pricing, this for us is one of the major reasons to prefer Steam over Epic. Epic has however announced that it’s working on regional pricing. Listening is a step in the right direction.
Conclusion – The Epic Games Store, yay or ney?
Things could change, the Epic Games Store is still in its early stages. We don’t know the situation and maybe we’re just being paranoid. Steam was pretty horrible when it first came around, but it’s had years to implement all the features that we have now become accustomed to from a game launcher and digital games store. Considering the infinite amount of wealth Epic has behind it, it’s unlikely that this “attack” on Steam is going to stop. It’s also possible that it might eventually become a better launcher than Steam at some point. This sucks really, because it’s at a time where we already have a good launcher – Steam.
Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.