Tim Sweeney defends Epic exclusivity deals as necessary
The issue of exclusivity on video game storefronts and consoles is a rather contentious one. Gamers across the globe may hate it, and they’re right to be angry about not having access to the games they love, but exclusives are a major part of the strategies game developers and publishers use to make money. Epic has exploited this trend to terrifying effect in recent months as they have effectively poached many games from Steam and other competitors, much to the disdain of gamers online.
It’s pretty obvious how they’re doing it too. In short, giant sums of money. Through a combination of financial assistance offered to developers and a high share of the revenue, Epic has been able to pull multiple high-profile games into timed exclusivity contracts on the PC market.
So it’s with no real surprise that Tim Sweeny, the CEO of Epic Games and one of the architects of the Epic Games Store, has some things to say about the plan Epic is using, as well as why they’re doing it. According to Sweeney, bringing titles exclusively to Epic’s storefront is the only way to encourage a change for the better in an oft-ignored aspect of the games industry. That area is the share of revenue developers actually see from their games.
With an estimated 80% of the value of the games industry as a whole belonging to software sales, you would expect that developers can make a pretty penny on their games, although this isn’t usually the case. the share of revenue from an individual game sale is exponentially lower in the AAA games industry, but in the landscape of Steam, GOG and Epic, the average is often a split where only 70% of the value of a sale goes to a developer. Epic wants to change that though.
And according to Sweeney, exclusives are the only way that’s going to happen in the current consumer climate. And according to other statements he has made, this doesn’t have to be the way things go down.
For comparison to this typical split, Epic offers an 88/12 split in favor of the developer. This means that selling $1 million dollars worth of copies would generate $180,000 more revenue on Epic than it would on say, Steam. Sweeney hopes that by using exclusives, Epic can convince the rest of the gaming market to follow their lead.
Trouble is, Epic has a long way to go until they can claim that win. Without major complaints about the usability of their store, as well as the lack of social features, there’s already a big uphill fight in store against the likes of Steam. There’s also the question of when they reach the critical mass of games that will allow them to offer enough games for people to consider moving away from Valve. I don’t see the company being able to sound the horn of victory just yet when they still lack both compelling social features and an expansive library of new and classic titles.
Epic will likely run out of money to throw at the problem before they can eclipse Steam in terms of volume, so the clear path is to focus on quality. But then the company has to contend with the inevitable backlash they are due to receive as more games make the jump to the Epic Games Store.
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