The Epic Games Store (EGS) appears to have enjoyed a banner year in 2021. For many, the EGS is better known for its giveaways than for being a game buying destination, and the figures show this feeling rings true. To sum up its extraordinary year, Epic Games says that it gave away 765M games (with an average price of $23.82), which means it gave away about $18 billion worth of games. However, its income from game sales in 2021 was just $840 million – which is less than 5% of the total giveaway value it claims.
While we might have nitpicked at the giveaways versus cash generation figures in the intro, the EGS has some great numbers that it can boast about for 2021. To grow and compete with the likes of Steam on PC, the EGS obviously needs to be 'stickier' so those millions of freebie seekers stick around to play the games and add paid titles to their collection.
"There are now over 194 million Epic Games Store PC users, an increase of 34M from 2020," boasts Epic in its year in review blog post. "Daily active users peaked at 31.1M, and peak concurrent users reached 13.2M. December's monthly active users peak reached 62M users, an increase of 11% from last year's peak of 56M."
As a point of reference, earlier this week, we reported that Steam achieved a record 29.2M+ concurrent users. So, EGS is where Steam was (using this metric) in Q3 2016.
On the topic of free games, Epic Games gave away 89 free games during 2021, which it says were worth $2,120 in total – an average of $23.82 per game, as we mentioned in the intro. With over 765 million free games claimed by players, we calculate an incredible giveaway total value of somewhere around $18 billion. Epic seems to be particularly happy about its most recent sale over Christmas and New Year's, where it saw 31 million people participate in the event. Gamers acquired 159 million items, which was 14% better than the previous year's sale event.
Improvements Delivered in 2021
Epic set aside a portion of its blog to talk up the EGS platform and its development. The immaturity of the EGS client and limited features compared to competitors are frequently highlighted as criticisms. Critical introductions in 2021 include improved navigation, social panel tweaks, improved wishlist support, fuller product previews, and new views to discover new releases, among other highlighted store sections.
Weekly Free Games Will Continue in 2022
In 2022, Epic wants to reassure gamers that "weekly Free Games will continue." Remember, last year we got 89 giveaways, which is more than once a week, due to special events timed with sales and holidays. The better, bigger name giveaways tended to also tie in with these events. We would wager that this promotional giveaway activity will follow a similar pace in 2022. In fact, there is yet another sale now celebrating the Chinese New Year period.
Lastly Epic promises the release of "a number of huge games," through 2022 to get you to visit its store. It name checks the likes of Forspoken, Dying Light 2 Stay Human, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction. But of course, some of the biggest games of the year are still probably yet to be revealed.
Is Steam Your Biggest Foe – or Xbox Games Pass?
It would be ironic if, as Epic almost grasps Steam's coattails, the industry and gamers pivot to gaming subscription services. Whenever news about Microsoft's Xbox Games Pass (for example) bubbles up, it always seems relatively positive, and Microsoft's investments in it look to have paid off over recent years. If the games industry is going to finally have its Blockbuster Netflix moment with games subscriptions and streaming, Epic better start making some Plan B and Plan C contingencies, and it isn't the only one that needs to do this.