By Sweep 68 Comments
I got an email today that said:
Which I guess is the latest in a long line of games that have ditched Steam to sell themselves on the Epic storefront. And people are really angry about it, apparently? A whole bunch of games are getting review-bombed because they were listed on steam and now they're not?
Does anyone else think that getting upset over this is completely fucking bananas?
Epic doesn't decide where games are sold, that's the publisher or developer. So people getting upset that Epic is "yanking" games off steam, as though Epic had any say in the matter, are extremely misguided. What's happened here is that Publishers listed their game on one store, then a second store opened with better incentives, so they decided to use that one instead. Let's take a second to consider some of the reasons a developer or publisher might want to make the switch;
- The Epic store takes a 12% cut of every game sold, and waives the 5% fee if the developer is using the Unreal Engine. Valve takes 30%. Which means if a game using the Unreal Engine released on Steam, they're losing 23% of the potential profit that they could have made if they'd released on the Epic Store.
- Steam has an open-door policy for hate groups, harassment, and unsavory game-design. Moderations are rare, glacially slow and/or invisible. There's plenty of Developers who don't want to be associated with that or give up 30% of their profits to support that business model. Case in point.
- The Epic store is "hand-curated" instead of auto-populated by an algorithm, which means smaller indie games will still be featured on the storefront and given a share of the spotlight. Devs also have control over the appearance of their store page.
- Players can decide if they want to allocate a slice of the games cost to a streamer when purchasing, as a way of supporting/rewarding streamers who may have brought the game to their attention.
If the cost of all of the above is an exclusivity deal with Epic then that seems like a small price to pay - especially as the increasing size of the store will mean more traffic and customers snowballing into bigger sales; developers with exclusivity deals will be happy that other developers are also getting exclusivity deals, because it means more customers will be visiting the store where their own game is. The more exclusives Epic gets the more customers they have in circulation, so it's in their best interests to operate this way.
A lot of this comes down to the notion of "fairness" and that Epic are somehow not playing fair by "depriving Steam customers" of the games they want. This is a mentality that is perpetuated by Valve themselves after they left up store pages for games that had been removed and literally accused Epic of unfairness. Does anyone else see the irony of the biggest pc-gaming monopoly accusing other stores of being "unfair"? This is some manipulative playground bullshit. Steam has been hyping up the illusion that their store is "open" and "fair" but the reality is that those terms are defined by Valve themselves, because they've been sitting on the top of the pile for so long and can dictate how the entire industry is perceived. The fundamental truth is that Steam graphs and algorithms manipulate and track players just as much as anywhere else, and transparency is limited only to what Valve wants you to see. We like to believe that a "fair" exchange would be for the Epic store to attract customers with a better set of features rather than with exclusives, but ultimately when it comes to corporations competing at this level it's always going to come down to who is willing to throw around the most money. Valve has got the capital to undercut the prices of every other store at a loss, effectively running them out of business, which they frequently do with their steam sales. How is that fair?
Rather than get annoyed with the people running the shiny new store, maybe your frustration would be better aimed at the old store for not properly supporting and looking after the developers upon which their entire platform depends? It's not like they're short of money, so their lack of apparent effort seems extremely complacent and greedy. Competition is good, and healthy; it promotes growth and experimentation and all that good shit.
What number are we on? Four? OK,
Both stores are free. This isn't some Sony/Microsoft console war where each platform treats customers as investors and attempts to steal then away from the other by securing exclusives. If you have a PC that can run steam then you have a pc that can run the Epic store. There is nothing to prevent you from having both.
I can't think of a fifthly. But you get the idea, anyway.