Gamers have had a rather pronounced reaction to the policy Epic Games has been pursuing with exclusive games deals on their new sales platform. Since the Epic Games Store launched earlier this year, many games have made the jump with timed exclusives deals that deprive Steam users of access to the games, at least for a time.
Although it does seem as though this strategy could change in the future, depending on what else happens in the PC gaming industry.
According to Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, the plan to pursue such aggressive exclusive game deals on their game store was a direct consequence of Steam and their revenue split. The Epic Games store would absolutely offer a much more open policy, including even listing their own games on Steam, if Valve was a little more accommodating.
Developers and publishers of PC games alike both cite the 30% revenue split as a major hurdle, especially considering the current climate surrounding Steam. There are just too many games, including a glut of garbage asset flips, that make it extraordinarily hard to get a new game noticed on the platform. Combining this visibility problem with lower revenue makes it easy to see why Epic has been able to exploit their competition to gain a bit of an edge.
Gamers of course haven’t taken this strategy lying down, as many publishers that have announced Epic Games Store exclusives have found themselves on the wrong end of Steam review bombs and other backlash. And if Epic managed to drop it’s exclusive strategy, while maintaining already negotiated deals, while at the same time getting Steam developers and publishers a better deal, that would be great for the future of gaming.
Although speaking realistically, this change is unlikely. the 12% cut that Epic takes from sales works in part because the company limits the numbers of keys a developer can create. This means that third-party sales, which dilute the value of a given game key, are massively limited. Steam allows developers to issue a huge amount of keys, and it’s this loophole that allows many third-party sellers like G2A and CDKeys to operate at all. This loss of exposure would hurt Valve’s bottom line a fair bit on individual games. Adding in the loss of revenue from increasing transaction fees and other costs means that a much lower cut could very well be impossible for Valve to honor.