The Epic Games Store has become to gaming what EA’s Origin platform was several years ago; that is to say, totally unwelcome and actively preventing would-be quality titles from appearing on Steam. Of course, Epic may be even more controversial because, unlike Electronic Arts, they are quite literally pulling titles from Steam that were previously announced to be available on that platform. While some developers are reveling in Epic’s financial stipend, others aren’t having it, and Re-Logic, the studio behind Pixel Piracy, Pixel Privateers, and, perhaps most importantly, Terraria, have stated that they aren’t looking to “sell their souls” any time soon.
That’s quite literally the phrasing used in a recent tweet by Whitney Spinks, the Re-Logic VP. While other small developers have either praised Epic for their more developer-friendly financial ambitions or perhaps made an attempt to downplay their dealings with the Fortnite developer, Re-Logic is actively against the store's influence over the indie industry.
Since there seems to be confusion- No Re-Logic title will ever be an Epic Store exclusive. There is no amount of money we could be offered to sell our souls.— Whitney Spinks (@Cennxx) May 14, 2019
Suffice to say that Terraria won’t be scrubbed from Steam anytime soon. Yet, that’s hardly cause for a sigh of relief. While it would be nice to see smaller studios ban together and reject Epic’s encroachment on an otherwise fairly harmonious PC digital distribution space, it feels like small compensation when compared to the laundry list of developers and projects Epic has either bought or absorb over the past few months.
Beginning with Metro Exodus in January and including major 2019 releases like The Outer Worlds and Borderlands 3, Epic’s attempts at maintaining a user base by taking titles hostage hasn’t earned them much support from the gaming community at large. While it has undoubtedly gotten at least a few consumers to download their proprietary game launcher, a very small margin of players would be likely to prefer it over something like Steam.
Steve Allison, the current head of the Epic Games Store, recently stated in an interview that he doesn’t believe the company will continue to negotiate for title exclusivity far into the future, but it’s hard to know what the line will be drawn. Valve has kept relatively mum when it comes to their new competitors, and, aside from temporary consumer backlash, there’s very little to stop Epic from doing what they’re doing. Thanks to Fortnite, they may be able to maintain these abrasive practices for quite a long time.
It’s not all bad, of course; one-time industry darling Bethesda Softworks have announced that they don’t plan on handing their upcoming titles over to Epic anytime soon. In fact, games like Rage 2 and Doom Eternal will make it to Steam despite the fact that Bethesda themselves have their own launcher.
Perhaps this is simple recompense for years of lackluster quality control and stringent developer revenue splits for Steam. Yet, it’s tough to come to terms with the fact that titles like Journey, Detroit: Become Human, and even Rocket League will perhaps be sold exclusively through Epic on the PC. How many more devs need to “sell their souls” before the PC gaming community runs into a real issue?