“I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords,” a representative from THQ Nordic probably said recently in regard to Epic Games’ hostile takeover of the digital marketplace on PC. Actually, that was a quote from The Simpsons, but, given the circumstances, it’s fitting.
The back and forth between Fortnite developer Epic Games and the gaming community at large hasn’t cooled down much since news broke in January of this year that 4A Games’ Metro Exodus would be an Epic Store exclusive for twelve long months. The move was met with an incredible amount of backlash, and things only got worse as Epic continued to sign exclusivity deals and more-or-less poach games from other retailers.
Few were in favor of the move, but Koch Media CEO Klemens Kundratitz recently stated that he’s totally in favor of Epic’s involvement in the digital retail space.
“[We’re] very happy with the commercial results so far,” Kundratitz stated in reference to the sales figures for Metro Exodus on PC. The numbers definitely back that up; Exodus sold two and a half times what Last Light, the game’s predecessor, sold. The affair helped THQ Nordic to post some seriously impressive Q1 numbers this year, and it shows that, despite a few “ripples”—Kundratitz’s words—caused by the transition over to Epic’s storefront, the game still sold very well on the PC platform.
“Overall, I’m still of the opinion, like I was at the beginning, that, as an industry and as a publisher, we should welcome Epic and their business model.” Kundratitz may have a point here; though few PC players approve of Epic’s tactics, it’s true that they offer a more favorable revenue split. Developers and publishers who partner with Epic can expect to take home 88% of their total profits, with Epic only taking a 12% cut. This should come across as particularly attractive for smaller development studios, as Steam’s 30% cut is often viewed as outrageously high.
“...a seventy-thirty split is, quite frankly, anachronistic,” said Kundratitz of Steam’s revenue policies. It’s something which has gotten the platform in trouble before, and, with other developers like 2K Games and Paradox Interactive partnering with the service, it’s safe to say that Valve may have to get their act together in order to stay relevant.
That said, this is mostly pro-Epic speak coming from suits eager to reap the benefits of jumping into bed with Steam’s new competitor. It speaks nothing of how derided and consumer-unfriendly an exclusivity war on PC is, and, in our current era of loot box fiascos and free-to-play monetization mechanics in premium games, this feels like another way to get one over on the players.
Though they’re behind Fortnite, the gaming revolution which dominated the interests of a major portion of gamers for two years straight, Epic Games’ public image has been somewhat tarnished by these scandals, and, while they may be able to write checks, their ability to win over consumers may soon be dwindling. Just ask the developers of Ooblets what happens when devs make the shift over to Epic.
Koch Media’s CEO may have welcomed Epic’s storefront with open arms, but those of us who aren’t experiencing any sort of financial gain as a result of their presence on the market won’t be so quick to let them in. Almost everyone agrees that Steam needs competition, but Epic doesn’t seem eager to compete—they seem eager to push everyone out of the market.