The amount of drama that surrounded the decision to pull Metro Exodus’ release from Steam to make it an Epic Games Store exclusive was staggering. According to Epic, if it were ever to come up against another last-second decision to do so again, the company would probably not pull the trigger just for the sake of gaining an exclusive.
During the Epic Store Q&A at GDC 2019, which featured a panel of Epic leaders, Steve Allison, head of the Epic Games Store, responded to a question asking if the company would make the same decision in a future scenario. Allison quickly stated, "We don't want to do that ever again."
"We had been talking to those guys for a number of months,and they made some decisions on their end—this is not a throw under the bus thing, it's just the timing of where that came together and what was important to their business—we decided to do it together, we both knew there was the potential for the thing that happened in terms of communication. I think it felt way worse and was bigger than we thought, and in real-time, we spent time talking ... 'we will never do this again in this way.' And I think we're not in a situation now where that could ever happen, because now we're live and we have a view out in time, and we can work with everybody ... We have a case study where it says 'maybe we should make our decisions earlier,' and we will."
Hindsight is 20/20, but saying, “maybe we should make our decisions earlier,” seems like a pretty obvious way to manage a business. Being proactive is always more effective than reactive, which was clearly reinforced by the laughable way the Steam logo was covered up on physical copies of Metro Exodus.
The timing of the decision is also a bit of a head scratcher, considering that the Metro Exodus news came after the Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 announcement (which was basically the first big-name title to be announced as an Epic Exclusive), but was released before The Division 2. Gamers barely had time to come to terms with the reality of the new platform wars, and that frustration bled over to the Metro developers themselves, which is something that Allison wants to prevent moving forward.
Thankfully for 4A Games, Metro Exodus still sold well despite all of the drama. The platform wars are here to stay - at least for the foreseeable future - but hopefully, Epic will use this as a learning moment to improve future releases for both developers and gamers.