Metro Exodus publisher: Epic exclusivity is ‘making the industry a better place,’ despite gamer backlash

As the first company to announce an Epic Games Store exclusive, Koch Media received a lot of backlash for the decision. However, it seems that the Metro Exodus publisher has no regrets about making it an exclusive. Indeed, it’s now stating that the industry will be a better place thanks to the Epic exclusives.

At Gamescom 2019, Koch Media CEO Klemens Kundratitz discussed the company’s relationship with Epic Games in an interview with gamesindustry.biz. Here, he acknowledged that there was some push back to the deal, stating that it “caused some ripples.” However, Kundratitz confirmed that Koch was “very happy with the commercial results so far.”

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Overall, Kundratitz stands by the company’s decision and offered praise for Epic and the impact its store has had on PC gaming. He stated that, “overall, I’m still of the opinion like I was at the beginning that, as an industry and as a publisher, we should welcome Epic and their business model.”

“We have a strong relationship with Epic and we continue to have a strong relationship with Steam as well,” Kundratitz continued. “It’s just a shame that we couldn’t announce this collaboration earlier. That was not perfect.”

Despite their good relationship with Epic, Koch Media still released a number of games on Steam this year. “We have many games on Steam, including many new releases like Iron Harvest,” confirmed Kundratitz. “But I’m not ruling out to do an exclusive with Epic again.” Indeed, it seems that Koch prefers having their bigger IPs, such as Metro Exodusas exclusives. This may indicate that any future releases in these franchises, such as the upcoming Metro Exodus sequel, will also be exclusives.

Epic Games Store exclusivity continues to be a sore point among gamers, with announcements of it generally being met with negativity. Quite a fair bit of criticism has gone towards Deep Silver, Koch Media’s parent company, which has announced a number of Epic exclusives over the past few months. Most notably, Shenmue 3 forced the company to offer refunds to backers. That said, even developers of smaller indie games such as Ooblets have also come under fire for making their game an exclusive.

Kundratitz addressed the negativity by stating that this kind of behavior was a problem with the internet in general, calling it a “wider issue than just the battle between two digital stores.” However, he doubled down on the sentiment that Epic exclusives are good for the industry.

“As a company, we have to do the things we believe in. We make mistakes as well but this wasn’t a mistake,” explained Kundratitz. “We need to embrace a digital partner that offers a much more compelling rev share model than anybody else, and I think they act as a role model for us and for other digital partners as well — a 70/30 split is quite frankly anachronistic.”

Kundratitz’ statement echoes those of Epic Games’ own Tim Sweeney. Back in July, Sweeney similarly stated that Epic’s drive to get more exclusives would be good for the industry in the long run. The idea is to offer a storefront that takes a smaller cut of a game’s profits than Steam. This is the “70/30 split” that Kundratitz mentions, with Valve taking 30% of a game’s revenue. Epic Games on the other hand only takes 12% of the revenue from game’s sold in its store. The goal for Epic is to eventually force Valve to adjusts its revenue model to match its own, upon which Epic will end the practice of exclusives.

Of course, gamers do have valid complaints when it comes to the Epic Games Store. When it launched, the storefront lacked a number of features such as a shopping cart, as well as cloud saves. While Epic has been slowly rolling out features — it recently enabled cloud saves for select games in July — it still continues to lag behind Steam.