For some time now, Epic Games has been courting a wide variety of developers to release their games as exclusives on the Epic Games Store. Amid continuing backlash, founder Tim Sweeney has stepped in to explain Epic Games Store's methods.
The Fornite developer has suffered criticism for this strategy among gamers. While some are only interested in when they can play upcoming titles and not where, there's a vocal group that's vehemently against Epic's push for exclusive games on its platform. Take the recent controversy surrounding Shenmue III. After developer Ys Net confirmed that the game will be an Epic Games Store exclusive for PC gamers, Kickstarter backers expressed anger and frustration, saying they specifically requested Steam keys when they made their pledges.
In April, Sweeney claimed the Epic Games Store would stop with the exclusives if Steam adopted its revenue model (Epic's split is 88%/12% in favor of developers, Steam's is 70/30). Now, Sweeney is attempting to illuminate the thought process behind this initiative. The exec took to social media with a series of tweets, explaining that exclusivity deals are part of a longer-term solution meant to improve cuts for developers.
According to Sweeney, simply offering a better cut for creators isn't going to change the industry standard rates. Instead, Epic Games believes in purchasing exclusive games at scale in an effort to pressure Steam to reduce their cut.
"After years of great work by independent stores (excluding big publishers like EA-Activision-Ubi), none seem to have reached 5% of Steam’s scale," wrote Sweeney. "Nearly all have more features than Epic; and the ability to discount games is limited by various external pressures." He added that these outside factors lead to the "strategy of exclusives," which indeed may be "unpopular" with Steam gamers, but it does work.
Sweeney also said that the tactic could indeed be seen as aggressive, but it's “proportionate to the problem it addresses." With Epic's long-term goal of lowering the cuts that platforms like Steam take from developers as an industry-wide standard, the strategy does start to make more sense.
"If the Epic strategy either succeeds in building a second major storefront for PC games with an 88/12 revenue split, or even just leads other stores to significantly improve their terms, the result will be a major wave of reinvestment in game development and a lowering of costs," he summarized.
This may not be the most optimal solution for gamers resistant to change, or those who prefer Steam to the Epic Games Store, but it does appear that Sweeney and company believe this is a viable option to better the industry as a whole. And with a goal like that in mind, it's honestly hard to fault them – though we'll grant you the fact that it is a pain to constantly have to swap between launchers.