So, what's your beef with EGS?
Epic Games Store launched onto the PC scene around December 2018, to directly compete with the likes of Steam, Origin, UPlay, GOG, Battle.Net, etc. - Steam being a well-established player in this space (launching around 2003).
Competition is good, right? Well, Epic seems to think buying/funding exclusivity deals with developers is the way to gain traction in the market. This has led to many developers promising to only release their game on PC via the Epic platform, and not allowing Steam and others to carry the game digitally; sometimes with a delay, sometimes "perpetually".
The console world has had the concept of "exclusives" for years (and I also believe they're not right). But this is now spilling into the PC realm, which historically hasn't had this sort of attitude - and with Steam being king as long as it has, Epic is looking to shake things up.
Epic's approach is completely anti-consumer, and a huge step backwards. Epic's platform contains nowhere near the feature set and policies that Steam has. I hope this site can bring awareness to how scummy Epic's practices are, and encourage you to vote with your money/wallet to send them a strong message.
Why are developers choosing Epic Games Store over Steam?
Some developers feel that Steam's revenue split is unfair. Valve, in 2018, changed their revenue share to be 30 percent of all Steam sales for first $10M of sales, then for $10M to $50M, the split goes to 25 percent. After $50M, Steam takes 20 percent.
Epic, on the other hand, has their revenue share at 12% - a very enticing proposal to developers. However it seems Epic is encouraging developers who want to be on their store to make them exclusive, either temporarily or permanently. I have no way of knowing what deals are being offered here, but publishers/developers are taking Epic up on their offer, leading to games being locked to the Epic Games Store.
The bottom line is - Epic likes making money. Publishers/developers like making money. If someone came and offered you a nice amount of cash (or a special deal on sales in your store) in order to be exclusive, you may be tempted to take it. But in doing so, don't forget the message you're sending to consumers - you don't want your customers being able to play/own your games on the platform of their choice, and care more about money instead.
I've heard the argument that the Epic Games Store deal really helps indie developers, and their games wouldn't exist without the exclusivity bump. This may be true in some degree, however it doesn't hide the fact that it's preventing the consumer from choosing which store to support/purchase from, and still wrong in my book.
Update: Someone shared with me that Steam allows developers to generate keys for the store for free (so they can be activated on Steam), allowing developers to sell these keys on other storefronts and get 100% of the profit. As far as I know, Epic does not offer any such mechanism. This is a big deal, and a huge help for indie developers/etc.
What Steam gets right versus Epic Game Store
This might come off as "Steam" fan-boy speaking, but they do so many things right. Valve Software runs the Steam platform, which freely provides an API called Steamworks, which developers can use to integrate features like matchmaking, in-game achievements, microtransactions, mods, patching/updating, etc. - any platform that would hope to compete with Steam would want to implement these, right?
Well, Epic publishes a Trello board with their roadmap, and while I appreciate the transparency, the priority they wish to complete these features with is frankly laughable. As of May 2020, "Storefront - Trending" is the next item on their priority list to work on. Things on the "recently shipped" include Wishlists, reviews and curated collections - you know, things a store should have before it launches.
Being a gamer for many many years now, the features that mean the most to me, in no particular order are:
- In-Home Streaming
- Remote Play with Friends
- Family Accounts
- Cloud Saves
- User Reviews
- Price Adjusted Bundles
- Gifting Games
- Shopping Cart
- TV/Big Screen Mode
Guess which of those features above the Epic Games Store supports? Only one (Cloud Saves)-- but not on very many games, and Tim Sweeney has even said they "have a bit more work to do before rolling it out more widely". This is unacceptable, for a platform intending to compete with Steam.
Steam also has had a history of supporting other operating systems, such as macOS and Linux. While Epic Games Store does provide a macOS client, they do not offer a Linux one, and their macOS offerings are pretty slim-- and, adding more confusion-- some games that do have macOS support on Steam do not show macOS support on Epic Games Store.
Arguments and Counter-Arguments
This isn't some snap judgement call made by myself - this is something I've spent quite a bit of time on. I want to present some of the common things I've heard and my responses to them:
|"Store XYZ should not have a monopoly on the PC games market!"||Steam may be one of the most popular, but it is definitely not alone nor a monopoly. Companies such as EA and Ubisoft have their own launchers, and even recently companies like Rockstar have gotten into the mix. These companies (until recently) were still offering their games for sale digitally across their own launchers, Steam, and other stores like GOG.com - letting consumers choose which platform they want to bind their digital purchase to.|
|"Epic gives away a lot of great games for free. I don't see (store XYZ) doing that."||Epic isn't the only store that has ever done this. You can feel free to take advantage of the fact that Epic is willing to do this; it doesn't make up for anything else, though, in my opinion. It just means they either have deeper pocketbooks and/or are willing to take the hit to win in the popularity contest (and getting people installing their store).|
|"Just use what you want to use, why does this bother you so much?"||I would think you'd have a pretty good idea after reading this site - however let me boil it down to the main issue that bothers me - Epic is choosing to not compete with other stores by building something better-- they're spending money (and they have a lot of it) to buy exclusivity instead.|
|"Steam has exclusives too- you don't see Counter-Strike: GO on other stores, for example."||This is the difference between a 1st party and 3rd party game. Valve runs Steam, and made games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - which run on Steamworks, which means it requires Steam to run. Features such as matchmaking, anti-cheat, etc. are all provided by this platform. Epic has no equivilant featureset - perhaps if it did, Valve would want to implement them so they can sell on their store too.|
How can we fight back?
I'll be honest - there's no silver bullet here. Epic has shown they do not care about making exclusivity deals (profits!) - so letting them know directly is most likely going to change nothing, but worth a shot. They have a "Contact Us" form linked at their help page - perhaps some nicely worded feedback would help. Others have gone as far as telling Epic support to delete their accounts.
I encourage you to also not purchase the games (at least on the PC platform), and tell developers and publishers directly, via their social media and contact forms, why you are not going to purchase their game on Epic.
Of course, for all the above methods - feel free to link to this site to help them and others understand why gamers won't tolerate these anti-consumer practices. Let's educate folks on why this just plain sucks.
Hall of Shame
It's important to know what developers and publishers are working with Epic on this, so you can choose to voice your displeasure (and vote with your wallet) - here is one of the best and well-maintained lists I've found thus far, thanks to contributions from AlienPsycho, Askolei and others:
I realize not everyone may share my opinion, or may have more to add on the subject. Feel free to do so below!