The Epic Games Store has been getting a ton of backlash and public support, often in equal measure, due to various choices that Epic has made while trying to compete with Steam. The Fortnite mega-publisher has been steadily pulling more and more games into their digital distribution storefront over the last few months. And because of certain deals being made, gamers are often not happy.
The big hindrance for their strategy as a company is pretty well understood by this point as well. You can only throw so much money at a problem before the money runs out or gamers get tired of the exclusivity problem. “What exclusivity problem?” I hear you ask, well let me explain.
As games make the deal with Epic to offer timed or permanent exclusives on their store , gamers often get left out to dry if they wanted the game on Steam, but there’s another layer to this issue. Developers running Kickstarter campaigns would often promise Steam or DRM free keys to backers on PC, and this practice took palce long before Epic came onto the scene. Anyone who backs a game on Kickstarter is even worse off as they won’t get something they were promised for backing the project, unless Epic manages to get ahead of the problem and offer refunds or Steam keys.
Now Epic is doing just that in a way. Tim Sweeney, current CEO of the company, had the following to say in response to fan backlash over Shenmue III going to the Epic store.
Epic is funding the cost of all Kickstarter refunds resulting from Shenmue III’s move to the Epic Games store, so that refunds won’t reduce Ys Net’s development funding. When future games go Epic-exclusive after offering crowdfunding rewards on other PC stores, we’ll either coordinate with colleagues at the other stores to ensure key availability in advance, or guarantee refunds at announcement time.
Many gamers began calling on their friends and acquaintances to push for refunds of their Kickstarter backing funds, prompting fears that a wave of refunds could hurt Ys Net and development of the new game. Epic appears to be keenly aware of this and is offering financial support as a backstop against problems from refunds.
This is a huge relief for fans of that game, as well as any other game that chooses to move with Epic. The question still remains of if Epic will ever run out of money to throw around, although with Fortnite still being monstrously popular, that may not happen for a while. And with Epic continually offering better revenue splits for developers and actively improving their service over time, things are looking up for the company in terms of its competitiveness with Steam.