Epic's drive to make a success of its PC game store has annoyed plenty of Steam lovers - but it's boom time for the developers whose games are snapped up as exclusives.
Epic has of course pumped millions of dollars into buying timed exclusivity for games to launch on its Store instead of rival Steam - an approach Epic boss Tim Sweeney has insisted is currently the only way to make a dent on Valve's monopoly.
We believe the lock-in effect of having a large library of games on a dominant storefront is more powerful than features, and hence a dominant store can only be challenged through exclusives.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) June 26, 2019
Here’s an article where Bill Gates explores a similar topic: https://t.co/QnkaOmfldd
It's easy to see why developers would play ball with Epic: money talks, after all. But you don't get many saying as much on the record. Rebellion's Jason Kingsley, though, who has signed an exclusivity deal with Epic for the PC version of the upcoming Zombie Army 4, was perfectly comfortable calling it like it is in a recent interview.
Speaking in an on-stage interview at the Develop conference this week, attended and reported on by Eurogamer sister site GamesIndustry.biz, Kingsley explained why Rebellion took the deal having previously said he would need a "bloody good reason" to do an Epic Store exclusive. The long and short of it is, that bloody good reason actually happened.
"Generally I think I would prefer not to do exclusives but I understand Epic's position with it, and quite frankly they are paying through the nose to build their store," Kingsley said.
"All credit to them, it's fantastic, and we'll take some of their money, thank you very much."
Kingsley is then quoted as saying the decision to go with Epic instead of Steam for Zombie Army 4 was a "pure business case." Rebellion's games have a history with Steam and have built up sizeable communities on Valve's platforms over the years.
So, how much did Epic pay Rebellion for Zombie Army 4? As you'd expect, Kingsley kept his cards close to his chest.
"I was aware that Epic was doing exclusives, [but] we hadn't been offered at the time," he said.
"I didn't really think they would, because typically they go for the super big [games]. Obviously they count our new title Zombie Army 4 as a big title, which is great, it's a really nice bonus for us. I was quite impressed by the numbers they offered." He then called it an "attractive package".
"Sometimes, as an independent developer, you've gotta take your chances," he said. "When something like that is offered... you sort of share the risk and share the reward."
Epic Games store exclusivity has certainly annoyed plenty of gamers who expected certain games to launch on Steam, and there have been high-profile cases of games coming under fire from a vehement backlash after the announcement of Epic Games store exclusivity.
But it's easy to see why some developers risk a backlash when the amount of money paid by Epic for exclusivity can make such a meaningful difference to their business and the future of their studios.
As for Epic, the Fortnite-fuelled gaming company has money to burn - and it's proven it's unafraid to spend big in the ongoing war with Valve for the hearts and minds - and money - of PC gamers.
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