Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney on Store Exclusives, Promoting Competition, and More

Despite making a splash at The Game Awards, the Epic Games Store is having a tough time winning over a certain set of PC gamers. The push towards store exclusives has led to some frustration, especially with titles that were already announced for Steam. It seems that some folks just don’t like the idea of launching their games from more than one platform. Epic’s Tim Sweeney acknowledged the complaints along with a few other general concerns.

Responding to claims that the new store and others like it are “anti-consumer,” Sweeney went into some previously unknown details about how games came to be under the Epic banner. As far as store exclusives, he laid it out pretty clearly.

“These exclusives don’t come to stores for free; they’re a result of some combination of marketing commitments, development funding, or revenue guarantees,” he said. “This all helps developers.”

This means that some of Epic’s vast Fortnite fortune is powering and promoting games like Hades and Super Meat Boy Forever. Tim goes on to compare this setup to the current shakeup in TV, where Netflix and Amazon are pumping more money than anyone into content production to prop up their services against the established players.

While Epic doesn’t want to bring over every system from Steam, the company is open to figuring out what could work in a Steam alternative. The Epic Store currently lacks user reviews, but Sweeney mentioned on Twitter that they’re looking to bring that feature in on a case by case basis. Developers who want to avoid review bombing can turn the feature off and point their users towards other forms of feedback. Speaking of, it looks like Epic still won’t have game-specific forums, so at least one issue is still waiting to be solved. The way Sweeney sees it, this is the only way forward on PC.

“Multiple stores are necessary for the health of an ecosystem,” he said. When there’s only one, their natural tendency is to siphon off more and more of the revenue, which then go to monopoly profits rather than CREATORS!”

This is in reference to Steam’s increasingly lackadaisical attitude when it comes to curation, which floods the marketplace and buries promising smaller games under the weight of less desirable titles.

Not only is the Epic Games Store giving a bigger spotlight to their releases at the moment, but they’re also paying much better than Valve.

“Steam takes 30 percent and Epic takes 12 percent,” he said. “That’s an 18 percent difference, and most devs make WAY less than an 18 percent profit margin — so this can be the difference between being able to fund a new game and going bankrupt!”

With so many studios not surviving past a less than stellar release in today’s industry, this seems on the mark.