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Epic challenges Steam with its own PC game store

For a long time, Steam was the name in PC gaming, the dominant platform where games were sold. But, thanks in part to the war chest afforded by the Fortnite phenomenon, Epic has launched its own digital game store to provide users — and developers — with a different option. Epic is offering a more friendly revenue split for developers, benefits for those who also use its Unreal Engine game development tools, and has even lured major publishers like Ubisoft to its store. Valve might not be the only major force for much longer.

  • Nick Statt

    Jan 14, 2020

    Nick Statt

    Epic says its PC game store now has more than 100 million users

    Epic games launcher
    Image: Epic Games

    Epic has some new metrics for the Epic Game Store a little over a year after its launch. The Fortnite developer now says the store has amassed 108 million registered users, thanks in part to the software doubling as the official PC launcher for the hit battle royale game.

    Without monthly user stats, it’s hard to compare that number with Valve’s competing Steam store, which had 90 million users as of January of last year. (Valve has yet to release a more recent stat.) But it bodes well for Epic that so many people have dowloaded its launcher and that a significant portion of that number likely do use it at least once a month, even just to play Fortnite.

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  • Nick Statt

    Jul 2, 2019

    Nick Statt

    Epic Games will cover refunds of Shenmue III to protect developer after backlash

    Image: Ys Net

    Game studio Ys Net, its publishing partner Deep Silver, and distributor Epic Games have come to a solution to appease angry fans over the PC exclusivity of upcoming, Kickstarter-backed game Shenmue III.

    In an upcoming survey, the trio plan to offer refunds to any backers upset the game won’t be available on Valve’s Steam storefront at launch, after Epic secured exclusivity of the PC version of the game for its own marketplace. You’ll also be able to transfer your PC version to a PS4 one if you so choose instead, while those who want Steam keys one year after release, once the exclusivity window closes, can request them in the survey.

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  • Nick Statt

    May 2, 2019

    Nick Statt

    Epic’s Rocket League acquisition made a messy situation even messier

    Image: Pysonix

    Epic Games’ acquisition of Rocket League developer Psyonix should have been a game industry success story for the ages. Psyonix was a small, mostly contract studio that created a blockbuster online game that became an overnight success and now, a few years later, it gets scooped up by the cash-flush creator of Fortnite.

    But in short order, the announcement became the latest controversial touchpoint in Epic’s ongoing struggle to compete in the PC game marketplace with Valve-owned Steam. At this point, it seems like Epic can’t do anything without whipping the PC gaming community into a frenzy.

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  • Nick Statt

    May 1, 2019

    Nick Statt

    Epic buys Rocket League developer Psyonix, strongly hints it will stop selling the game on Steam

    Image: Psyonix

    Fortnite creator Epic Games announced today that it’s acquired the independent game development studio Psyonix, makers of the massively popular vehicular soccer game Rocket League.

    As a result of the deal, Psyonix says it will have access to more resources to support Rocket League’s competitive e-sports league and, by late 2019, will bring the game to Epic’s PC storefront.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 18, 2019

    Adi Robertson

    Epic vs. Steam is just the latest battle in the dark history of DRM

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Earlier this month, PC gaming fans learned that the long-awaited Borderlands 3 would initially launch exclusively on the Epic Store, not Valve Corporation’s older and more popular Steam platform, and a number of them exploded with rage. Steam users review-bombed the earlier Borderlands games, calling Epic Games a “scummy company” and its actions “a slap in the face.” Critics posted a litany of reasons to hate the Epic Store, ranging from minor feature complaints to serious concerns about privacy and security. They’d made similar protests against earlier Epic exclusivity deals, including the shooter Metro: Exodus.

    Other reviewers, however, were incredulous at the level of anger. “Review bombing? Seriously? Over your favorite choice of DRM [digital rights management] platform?” asked one person. Several of the complaints against Epic were undeniable, but others were overblown, including a theory that Epic investor Tencent was funneling player data to the Chinese government. And the dispute reminded many observers of a small-scale console war, something that was based more in fandom than dispassionate analysis. “At this point, Steam is not just a place to buy games,” Motherboard noted. “It’s a part of some people’s identity.”

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  • Nick Statt

    Apr 16, 2019

    Nick Statt

    Epic vs. Steam: the console war reimagined on the PC

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    There’s a war brewing in the video game industry, and it’s getting uglier by the day. Steam, the longtime leading digital distributor for the PC platform, is facing a significant challenge from an equally large and powerful player: Fortnite creator Epic Games, which launched its own PC games store last year. The ensuing competition has morphed into a console war-like debate for a modern generation of players who grew up under the unhindered dominance of Steam, a platform now facing its first real form of competition since it arrived on the scene nearly 15 years ago.

    Steam parent company Valve has enjoyed enormous success as a game developer, thanks to titles like Half-Life, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota 2. But the company’s main moneymaker has been Steam, an iOS App Store-like marketplace for PC games. Without its own Android to challenge it, the store has for years been a de facto monopoly, earning Valve a 30 percent cut of all sales. PC gaming, while not as large as the mobile marketplace that now dominates the $137 billion game industry, has grown immensely in the past decade and now approaches the size of the home console segment at nearly $33 billion in annual revenue, according to market intelligence company NewZoo. And a lion’s share of all digital sales goes through Valve.

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  • Andrew Webster

    Apr 3, 2019

    Andrew Webster

    Borderlands 3 will be exclusive to the Epic Store on PC

    Last week, Gearbox officially unveiled that Borderlands 3 was in the works with a colorful debut trailer. Now, the developer has revealed a few more details, including when and where players will be able to jump into the latest game. Borderlands 3 is launching on September 13th on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC — though the PC version will be exclusive to the Epic Store, the budding rival to Steam. Borderlands 3 joins a growing list of Epic Store exclusives, including The Division 2, Metro Exodus, Control, and a trio of Quantic Dream games. Gearbox’s game won’t be exclusive forever, though; the game “will be available on additional PC digital storefronts in April 2020,” according to publisher 2K.

    As for the game itself, Borderlands 3 will feature a number of series mainstays — notably, a ridiculous number of guns, lots of vehicles to wreak mayhem in, and a role-playing-style progression — along with several new features. That includes four new playable characters, “seamless” co-op play, and new worlds to explore outside of the mainstay planet Pandora. In keeping with the series’s past, it also features some not-so-subtle box art.

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  • Nick Statt

    Mar 21, 2019

    Nick Statt

    Epic Games Store chief says they’ll eventually stop paying for exclusive PC games

    Epic games launcher

    Developer Epic Games has been shaking up the industry in more ways than one since launching the massively popular and influential Fortnite in 2017. Starting last December, the company has been using its newfound wealth from the battle royale hit to fund its PC marketplace, the Epic Games Store, which offers game developers a more generous 88-12 percent revenue split than the competition.

    In addition to that, Epic has been paying out large sums of money to developers to launch their games exclusively on its store, creating a particularly heated point of contention between PC game fans and the company. As a result, the store has grown to 85 million users, thanks largely to Fortnite’s active player base, Epic announced today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. (The software used to launch Fortnite on PC also contains the Epic Games Store, making users of the game also registered users of the store.)

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  • Andrew Webster

    Mar 20, 2019

    Andrew Webster

    Quantic Dream is bringing PlayStation games like Detroit and Heavy Rain to Epic’s PC store

    Detroit: Become Human
    Detroit: Become Human.

    Over the past decade, French studio Quantic Dream has become closely associated with the PlayStation platform, thanks to games like Detroit: Become Human and Beyond: Two Souls. But now, the developer is expanding its reach to the PC, and it’s starting with Epic’s new game store.

    Today, Quantic announced plans to bring its three latest games — Detroit, Beyond, and Heavy Rain — to Epic’s digital shop as timed exclusives for a year after launch. The move comes not long after Chinese internet giant NetEase invested in Quantic Dream with the goal of reaching a larger global audience. Both announcements represent a dramatic shift for the studio.

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  • Nick Statt

    Mar 20, 2019

    Nick Statt

    Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney on PC store moderation: ‘We’re not in the porn business’

    Samsung Unpacked New York City
    Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Samsung

    Fortnite creator Epic Games is in a unique position. Not only is the company overseeing development of one of the most popular and lucrative games on the planet, but it’s also now utilizing the success of that software to make its Unreal Engine development tools and, more recently, its online PC game store two of the most ubiquitous and disruptive elements in the industry.

    One of the main architects of this dramatic shift at Epic is CEO Tim Sweeney who hasn’t shied away from using his company’s renewed influence and stature to bring about bold changes to the status quo. One of the bigger challenges the company is pushing forward of late is its Epic Store, a new marketplace for PC games with an 88 / 12 percent revenue split that stands in stark contrast to Valve’s Steam, with its more traditional 70 / 30 percent split. (Valve has since altered its terms to make them more developer-friendly, but the terms are not as generous as Epic’s.)

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  • Andrew Webster

    Jan 28, 2019

    Andrew Webster

    Metro Exodus is the latest game to ditch Steam for Epic’s game store

    Metro Exodus

    Bleak survival shooter Metro Exodus is skipping Steam to launch exclusively on Epic’s game store on PC. Publisher Deep Silver made the announcement today, explaining that the latest game in the series would be available “solely” through the Epic store on PC when it launches on February 15th. Meanwhile, the previous two Metro games will also be coming to the digital shop later in the year.

    The news marks yet another major get for Epic, which launched its Steam competitor late last year. Earlier in January, Ubisoft revealed that the PC version of The Division 2 would also be exclusive to Epic, despite previously being listed on Steam. Epic has been able to lure developers and publishers by offering a more generous revenue split, taking a 12 percent cut of sales as opposed to the industry standard 30 percent.

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  • Andrew Webster

    Jan 9, 2019

    Andrew Webster

    The Division 2 is coming to Epic’s game store instead of Steam

    The Division 2

    The war of the digital game stores continues, and this time it’s Epic making a major move. Today, Epic announced a deal with Ubisoft to bring The Division 2 to its freshly launched game store. The PC version of the online shooter will also be available through Ubisoft’s own digital store, but it won’t be for sale on Steam; this in spite of the fact that the original The Division was sold through Steam, and the sequel was previously listed on Valve’s store as recently as this morning. Ubisoft says that “any pre-orders previously placed elsewhere will still be honored.”

    The Division 2, which launches on March 15th, will be the first big-budget title available through Epic’s store (it’s also coming to the Xbox One and PS4). The Fortnite developer debuted its PC game shop in early December, and the first batch of releases was full of notable indie games like Supergiant’s Hades and the PC debut of thatgamecompany’s Journey. The store will also be the exclusive PC home of The Walking Dead game’s final season starting with the third episode on January 15th.

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  • Andrew Webster

    Dec 14, 2018

    Andrew Webster

    Discord’s game store tries to top Steam and Epic by offering developers more money

    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Discord is looking to make its fledgling game store the most developer-friendly option around. Today, the company announced that it will offer developers a 90 percent share of revenue when its PC game store opens up to all creators starting next year. The store first launched in October with a heavily curated selection of indie games, including Into the Breach and Dead Cells as well as a handful of timed exclusives. Currently, it operates under a fairly standard 70 / 30 revenue split.

    “Turns out, it does not cost 30 percent to distribute games in 2018,” Discord CEO Jason Citron explained in a blog post. “After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share.”

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  • Nick Statt

    Dec 12, 2018

    Nick Statt

    Epic will let other game developers use Fortnite’s cross-platform tools for free

    Fortnite on mobile phones.
    Photo by Stefan Etienne / The Verge

    Epic Games today announced that it’s going to offer up the underlying software infrastructure and tools used to run its massive, cross-platform hit Fortnite to other game developers for free. Those tools include the ability to sync a player’s profile and in-game purchases across multiple platforms, to provide cross-platform voice communication, and to allow cross-platform partying and matchmaking, among other features.

    “Throughout 2019, we’ll be launching a large set of cross-platform game services originally built for Fortnite, and battle-tested with 200,000,000 players across seven platforms,” reads the announcement. “These services will be free for all developers, and will be open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores. As a developer, you’re free to choose mix-and-match solutions from Epic and others as you wish.”

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  • Nick Statt

    Dec 7, 2018

    Nick Statt

    Why Epic’s new PC game store is the Steam competitor the industry needed

    Epic games launcher
    Image: Epic Games

    Epic Games’ new digital game marketplace, announced earlier this week and surprise launched during the Game Awards yesterday evening, has raised a lot of eyebrows in the industry. With its favorable 88 / 12 percent revenue split and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s pledge to better support creators, many in the industry are wondering whether this will be the game store that could truly rival Valve’s Steam, which has been the dominant platform for PC game distribution for well over a decade.

    We’re not going to know how successful the store will be for quite some time. Last night, Epic announced the first batch of games that will support its store, and that list remains minuscule compared to the tens of thousands of titles available on Valve’s storefront. And although Epic has the benefit of positioning its store within the Epic Launcher, which is the software required to update and start playing its mega-hit Fortnite, there remains the distinct possibility that consumers don’t want to fragment their game libraries any further. In that scenario, Steam remains dominant, and Epic’s store becomes just another less-popular alternative, like GOG or Green Man Gaming, while smaller stores like Itch.io and Humble Bundle keep their focus on the indie game market.

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  • Nick Statt

    Dec 7, 2018

    Nick Statt

    Epic’s PC game store is live now

    Epic games launcher
    Image: Epic Games

    Epic Games announced earlier this week that it was entering the digital game store business, and just a few days later the Fortnite developer is ready to open its marketplace. The new Epic Games Store, which will live inside the Epic Launcher app for Windows and Mac, is now live after a surprise launch in the middle of the Game Awards in Los Angeles this evening.

    Epic is only confirming 14 titles right now, but its first two to be available right now are high-profile ones: Ashen from developer A44 and publisher Annapurna Interactive, and an all-new game from Bastion and Transistor developer Supergiant Games called Hades. Some other big names include Gunfire Games’ recently released Darksiders 3 and indie classics Journey and Super Meat Boy.

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  • Sam Byford

    Dec 7, 2018

    Sam Byford

    Hades is a new game from the makers of Pyre and Transistor, and it’s out now in early access

    Here’s a total surprise: a brand-new title from Supergiant Games, the studio behind Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre, has been announced and released all at once. Hades is in keeping with the studio’s isometric action-RPG history, with a typically eye-catching and unique art style. It’s out now for $19.99 in early access — but not on Steam.

    Hades is one of the most high-profile titles secured for the launch of the Epic Games Store, a new Steam competitor from Fortnite creators Epic, who are planning to woo developers with a more attractive 88/12 revenue split. The store is now live on the web and built into the same Epic app used to launch Fortnite on PC.

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  • Dec 4, 2018

    Nick Statt and Sean Hollister

    Epic Games takes on Steam with its own fairer game store

    Epic games launcher

    Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite and the widely used game-making software Unreal Engine, is about to start selling other companies’ games, too. Epic is launching a new online store like Valve’s Steam that will similarly feature third-party games, marking yet another substantial threat to Steam’s dominant position as the lead distributor of PC titles. Epic’s store, which is set to launch soon, will start with a select number of PC and Mac games, and it will open up to more developers next year.

    While we don’t know which games will make the initial cut — “Stay tuned for game announcements Thursday at The Game Awards,” the company hints — Epic CEO Tim Sweeney tells The Verge that he’s aiming to ultimately include “quality games of all sizes and genres” and is open to expanding the store to Android and even iOS, should Apple allow users to install a competing storefront on its iPads and iPhones. (Slim chance of that.)

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  • Nick Statt

    Dec 1, 2018

    Nick Statt

    Valve’s new Steam revenue agreement gives more money to game developers

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Steam parent company Valve announced a new revenue split for its online video game marketplace late Friday evening, with the change in its distribution agreement giving developers more money as the number of unit sales increases. Normally, Valve takes around 30 percent of all game sales on Steam, with some exceptions for games from smaller developers in its Steam Direct program. That will remain the case for the first $10 million in sales a game maker or publisher earns. For all sales between $10 million and $50 million, the split goes to 25 percent. And for every sale after the initial $50 million, Steam will take just a 20 percent cut.

    “The value of a large network like Steam has many benefits that are contributed to and shared by all the participants. Finding the right balance to reflect those contributions is a tricky but important factor in a well-functioning network,” the company wrote in a statement on the Steam Community page. “It’s always been apparent that successful games and their large audiences have a material impact on those network effects so making sure Steam recognizes and continues to be an attractive platform for those games is an important goal for all participants in the network.” Valve is also letting developers be more transparent about game sales with an update to the confidentiality clause of its agreement.

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