In response to a Twitter thread discussing the Epic Store’s controversial pursuit of exclusives, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney explained that the aggressive pursuit of such titles is really one of the only ways to change the digital distribution status quo which he believes is often unfair to developers.
“We believe exclusives are the only strategy that will change the 70/30 status quo at a large enough scale to permanently affect the whole game industry,” said Sweeney via Twitter. “The 30% store tax usually exceeds the entire profits of the developer who built the game that’s sold. This is a disastrous situation for developers and publishers alike, so I believe the strategy of exclusives is proportionate to the problem.”
The 30% that Sweeney notes is a reference to the 30% revenue cut that Valve takes from sales made on the Steam marketplace. By comparison, the Epic Store takes 12% of revenue. Sweeney notes that part of the reason why other marketplaces which have failed to even dent Steam’s place atop the digital sales world may be because they do not use exclusives to disrupt the Valve empire.
“In judging whether a disruptive move like this is reasonable in gaming, I suggest considering two questions: Is the solution proportionate to the problem it addresses, and are gamers likely benefit from the end goal if it’s ultimately achieved?” says Sweeney. “This leads to the strategy of exclusives which, though unpopular with dedicated Steam gamers, do work, as established by the major publisher storefronts and by the key Epic Games store releases compared to their former Steam revenue projections and their actual console sales.”
Sweeney ultimately feels that Epic is doing what is necessary to help create a better marketplace for gamers and developers, but he acknowledges that they have not found the perfect solution yet.
“I believe this approach passes the test of ultimately benefitting gamers after game storefronts have rebalanced and developers have reinvested more of their fruits of their labor into creation rather than taxation,” said Sweeney. “Of course, there are LOTS of challenges along the way, and Epic is fully committed to solving all problems that arise for gamers are for our partners as the Epic Games store grows.”
At the moment, major games like The Outer Worlds, many Ubisoft titles, Heavy Rain, and Borderlands 3 remain exclusive to the Epic Store on PC. Some PC players have protested that these exclusivity deals deprive gamers of choice and force them to use a game launcher which lacks many of the features found on Steam and other popular platforms.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.