It looks like 2019 will be the year of competing digital game stores. Epic Games, creators of the hit game Fortnite, made headlines earlier this month when it announced it was going to open its own distribution platform for digital games. With so many eyes already on Epic due to Fortnite, and a decent stable of exclusive titles, the service is well-poised to challenge Steam's dominance.
But that doesn't mean competitors are just going to let Epic win. Discord recently fired a shot of its own in this distribution war. It announced that it's going to be giving a lot more power, and a lot more money, directly to game developers.
The change was outlined in a recent Discord blog post. The biggest takeaway is that Discord will now be giving developers 90% of the revenue from games sold on its platform. This will leave the other 10% to Discord for "operating costs, and [it will] explore lowering it by optimizing tech and making things more efficient."
That's a big difference compared to Steam's 70/30 split. Epic Games already attacked that weakness by offering developers an 88% share. While it's only another 2%, Discord's move seems timed to outdo Epic.
Discord will also be offering another huge perk to developers who decide to publish on its platform. Every developer "from AAA to single person teams" will be able to use a self-serve service to get their games on the Discord store on their own. There will be no long review period or constantly shifting rules like on Steam.
The Discord store launched during the summer and boasted one incredibly convenient feature, the Universal Library. The function allows players to launch all of their games through Discord. No more dealing with tons of different launchers. If the games industry really is going the way of television with several competing digital platforms, all with their own exclusives, the Universal Library could become essential.
Meanwhile, Itch.io also offers developers 90% with the option for gamers to donate more. It doesn't have much in the way of big-name titles, but it does have some very creative indie games. But will any of these platforms truly be able to overthrow Steam? 2019 will be an interesting year for the gaming industry, it seems.