The Epic Games Store has been the subject of much attention over the past couple of years, and while there has been no shortage of controversy, there are several reasons to celebrate the rise of the newest and most ambitious digital gaming platform for the PC.
The Epic Games Store Is Underdeveloped - But It's Improving
A frequent criticism of the Epic Games Store is simply how lackluster and underdeveloped it feels when compared to Steam. There is no denying that this is true, but it should be considered that Steam has been constantly improving since its inception in 2003. It has had time to grow into the platform we know now.
Epic Games seems intent upon creating a platform with the purpose of luring consumers over to their side. As part of that process, they have drawn up a roadmap that is made available to the public as part of their initiative to be transparent about what goals they have, and when they plan to see them come to fruition.
With that said, Epic has recently been criticized for failing to miss some of their own milestones, which is a shame because of promises made for the upcoming release of Borderlands 3. Still, the existence of a roadmap is, at the least, a current list of what to expect in the future, and most of it looks quite attractive even if it is not coming as quickly as initial estimates predicted.
Exclusive Games Are Part Of The Industry
Game exclusivity has been the most often discussed part of Epic Games’ plan to attract consumers to their platform. One after another, it seems like there was no end in sight to the number of games signing up.
Anno 1800, Borderlands 3, Dauntless, Fortnite, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, John Wick Hex, Journey, Metro Exodus, Outer Wilds, The Outer Worlds, Rocket League, and Shenmue III are some of the most well-known and controversial titles that have made their ways into an exclusivity deal with Epic Games.
Sometimes, news of a title becoming an Epic exclusive receives little attention, and at other times, the internet bursts at the seam with calls for boycotts of developers, of Epic Games, and to review bomb aggregate sites like Metacritic and Steam.
Some of the worst cases of this have often been for games where the initial plan was tentatively set to release on Steam but moved over to Epic, much to the frustration of consumers, and, in some cases, supporters of Kickstarter campaigns. The Outer Wilds, Shenmue III, and Metro Exodus are recent examples of this.
However, there are a few counterpoints often not taken into consideration. First, backlash will often depend on how the developer handles the situation. With regards to the aforementioned games, only Shenmue III has had lasting problems, but as TheGamer has covered in-depth, the exclusivity agreement has been the least of their problems.
Both The Outer Wilds and Metro Exodus seem to have been fine upon release, selling well and receiving critical praise for being well-made. Anno 1800 apparently sold extremely well, though the developers did not provide exact numbers.
The reality is that Epic Games is not the only one seeking exclusivity in its games. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have done this for years, and they continue to do so. In their case, however, the exclusivity is far more restrictive than the same deal between Epic over another platform like Steam or GOG. In the first case, one needs a proprietary console to run an exclusive game, but with Epic Games, one can still play a game on PC. When Sony announces Red Dead Redemption 2 as only available for its console, where is the outrage?
The only obstacle that prevents someone from playing an Epic exclusive game that was at first planned to release on Steam is apparently their own pride. If one cannot move past that, then they likely are not that interested in playing the game anyway.
Furthermore, Epic Games has shown that they provide greater support for smaller indie developers than Steam, and they grant a better revenue-sharing split as well. In a video game market that is saturated with creativity and titles of various genres, indie developers must do all they can to survive, and Epic Games does exactly this.
Glumberland, the developer of the upcoming game Ooblets, recently wrote a candid post about why they chose to take an Epic exclusive deal. Despite being supported in marketing and having a greater revenue split, Epic also provided them with some funds upfront, and this led the developer to complete the game in the way they envisioned it without compromising on quality. If one really cares about a developer and is excited about the game they are creating, then it appears that one should also wish for them to go with whichever publisher offers them the best resources to accomplish this goal.
Regardless Of How One May Feel, Abuse And Harassment Are Unacceptable
Regardless of how one may feel about the Epic Games Store, there is no reason to become uncivil about the matter, as some of the worst people tend to do. When Glumberland penned its explanatory post about why it became an Epic exclusive, the result was a flood of hateful comments and tweets about the Ooblets team, which is comprised of just two people. The situation became so bad that they needed to try and get things under control, and Epic too became involved.
Ultimately, the rise and continued development of the Epic Games Store has been a boon for consumers, even if most do not see it right away. Before Epic came along, it was business as usual at Steam, with little innovation.
Now, Epic has offered a variety of free games every week for its consumer base, which it has committed to doing for the rest of 2019. As well, they have had great discounts to rival that of Steam’s, and the team has continued to work on improving their platform constantly.
The competition that Epic brings to Steam and others inevitably results in more consumer choice, and, more importantly, it forces these other platforms to consider how best to earn your consumer dollar. At the end of the day, if we as consumers have these companies fighting for our attention, it is gamers who come out on top.