Epic’s Tim Sweeney has spoken up about plans to usurp Steam as the dominant PC gaming storefront, as well as how the wealth of Fortnite cash has allowed it to accelerate its plans for the Epic Games Store.
The pieces have been in place for Epic to launch an assault on Steam for some time now. The Epic Store has been kicking around for a few years in a low-key form; Epic using it as the basis for Fortnite, Unreal Tournament (RIP), and Unreal Engine 4. The biggest telltale sign though was when Epic gave away free copies of Shadow Complex Remastered to anyone who installed the client.
Fast forward a few years and the astounding success of Fortnite: Battle Royale has allowed Epic to accelerate plans for the Epic Games Store and begin bank-rolling exclusive titles to entire players over.
“We built the technology long before we had a business model supporting it,” said Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney during an interview with MCV. “Fortnite accelerated everything by bringing in the large audience of engaged gamers required for a successful storefront launch, and the e-commerce economies of scale for an 88-12 percent revenue-sharing model.
“Yes, we’ve worked to ensure it’s genuinely worthwhile for developers to move to the Epic Games store. Fortnite’s success has given Epic significant latitude to help developers. We’re giving game developers and publishers the store business model that we’ve always wanted as developers ourselves.”
Sweeney believes that we’re set for an incredibly turbulent few years in the games industry. He reckons things are going to change more in the next five years than they have in the past decade, exemplified by the surging success of titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends, both of which have amassed huge audiences, cultural cache, and big bucks.
The long-term success of Fortnite isn’t exactly a given though, and Epic is having to make hay while the sun shines with the Epic Store.
“There is no hope of displacing a dominant storefront solely by adding marginally more store features or a marginally better install experience,” continued Sweeney. “These battles will be won on the basis of game supply, consumer prices, and developer revenue sharing.”
Sweeney is continuing to throw his eggs into the bankrolling basket with this statement, and in some senses he’s right. If the Epic Store came out and was a better experience than Steam from day one then it would still be an immense task to pry users away from Steam. A lot of PC gamers have made their home in Steam and have libraries of hundreds, possibly even thousands of games. Another store coming along with better features and curation isn’t going most of these folks to up sticks and leave Steam. It makes it a bit of a lose/lose situation for Epic, who need convincing reasons for people to use its store and yet will be roundly criticised for paying for these exact reasons.
Ultimately, Epic’s goal is going to be to tip the balance in its favour. At some point, the plan has to be to have so many must-play games that using the Epic Games Store is practically unavoidable. Once this is theoretically achieved, and Steam's dominance is broken, moneyhatting exclusives becomes a much more pointless endeavour.
Without trying to give Epic fuel for bad ideas, which games would it take to convince you start using the Epic Games Store? Epic are fighting an uphill battle against Steam, but do you believe they can actually topple Valve's giant store? Let us know what you think of it all below!