Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney has effectively thrown down the gauntlet to Valve, saying that if Steam matched the Epic Games Store in terms of dropping the cut it takes from developers to 12%, Epic would stop pursuing the policy of securing big-name exclusives.
Deep breath – as you can imagine, there’s a fair bit to unpick with this one, in terms of the background here, and reaction to Sweeney’s tweet.
As you can see below, the message came in response to theorizing about what Epic would do if Valve slashed the percentage of revenue it took from game makers, and whether Sweeney’s firm would still pay for exclusives in that scenario.
If Steam committed to a permanent 88% 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.April 25, 2019
The answer is apparently clear: if Valve was to permanently drop to giving developers/publishers 88% of the money earned, with a 12% cut for itself, which is how Epic currently operates, then there would be a hasty reversal of the exclusives policy.
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At the moment, Valve takes a much larger 30% cut of revenue (although that drops to 25% or 20% at certain revenue milestones for huge titles that really rake in the cash).
As Wccftech reports, Sweeney further noted: “[If Valve made] such a move [it] would be a glorious moment in the history of PC gaming and would have a sweeping impact on other platforms for generations to come. Then stores could go back to just being nice places to buy stuff, rather than the Game Developer IRS.”
He also observed: “30% store dominance is the #1 problem for PC developers, publishers, and everyone who relies on those businesses for their livelihood. We’re determined to fix it and this [paying for exclusives] is the one approach that will effect major change.”
As you can imagine, the reaction to Sweeney’s comment on Twitter has been, shall we say, heated. Some of the biggest flames are being fired up by those questioning why they should even believe Tim would follow through on this, when previously, Epic did something of an about-face in deciding it would keep nabbing exclusives, even with titles already on Steam, despite previous apparent assurances to the contrary following the whole Metro Exodus furore.
The other counterarguments raised include stressing the fact that while Steam may charge a lot more than Epic’s store, it should rightly do so, given that the latter still lacks polish, and Valve simply provides much more. And that’s not just in terms of the interface and store appearance, but also on the security front, and with support, along with a host of community trimmings.
And naturally, PC gamers don’t appreciate any kind of restriction on where big-name titles can be purchased, anyway.
Further accusations have also been levelled at Sweeney for being concerned about how developers are treated with unfair shares of the profits on one hand, and yet we have a recent report about Epic Games’ own devs being worked to brutally demanding schedules to keep Fortnite constantly updated and successful, in the face of rivals like Apex Legends.
Indeed, the developer of the latter, Respawn, has declared that this is most definitely a road it doesn’t want to go down, even if that means content is delivered at a much slower pace.
At any rate, the upshot is that Sweeney appears to have opened something of a can of worms on Twitter, once again. We doubt Valve will be getting involved in any responses…
Meanwhile, the Epic Games Store exclusive train keeps chugging on, with the most recent addition being Borderlands 3, which will only be sold via Epic’s platform for the first six months before making it to Steam.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).