Gaming

Epic Tells Steam: Give Devs More, We'll Close Our Store

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in a Twitter thread that the Epic Store could potentially stop selling exclusive titles if Steam offered developers a better cut. Steam, Valve’s online marketplace, currently takes a 30 percent cut of all sold games. Comparatively, Epic Games takes a 12 percent cut on their games.

Sweeney said that "If Steam committed to a permanent 88 percent revenue share for all developers and publishers without major strings attached, Epic would hastily organize a retreat from exclusives (while honoring our partner commitments) and consider putting our own games on Steam.”

The CEO went on to detail what he meant by "no strings attached," namely a scenario in which "games can use any online systems like friends and accounts they choose, games are free to interoperate across platforms and stores, the store doesn’t tax revenue on other stores or platforms.” He summarized it by saying, “essentially, the spirit of an open platform where the store is just a place to find games and pay for stuff.”

Sweeney argues that Epic's initial impetus for removing its games from stores and placing them into an online marketplace was to allow developers a better cut of their products. If Steam, the most dominant online game marketplace, charges 30 percent then it defeats the purpose of using the service.

Steam did change their revenue structure slightly in December. Rather than being a straight 30 percent cut as in the past, the cut can decrease twice after a title hits certain milestones. If a game sells $10 million worth, Steam takes 5 percent less, placing it at a 25 percent cut. A second, five percent cut decrease occurs after a game sells $50 dollars worth of copies, placing the cut at 20 percent. Even with that change in mind, Steam still doesn’t beat what Epic offers developers.

Epic Games launched their store in December of last year. Although they debuted with the good intentions of making a fair marketplace for devs, their exclusive game rights have polarized gamers. They’ve crafted exclusivity deals with some of the biggest game developers around and some anticipated of the biggest upcoming games, including Supergiant Games’ Hades, Borderlands 3, Super Meat Boy Forever, and David Cage’s 2010s oeuvre (Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human). 

Exclusivity deals with the Epic Store likely won’t stop until Steam changes their cuts to be fairer to developers.

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