by Blake Chapman
Epic Games, the development team behind the massively popular Fortnite: Battle Royale has launched a new online store specializing in the sale of pc games.
The launch is seen as an effort to target Steam and game developers hoping to release their projects on the platform. The biggest difference between Valve’s giant marketplace and Epic’s is the potential for higher revenue sharing. Currently Steam works on a tiered system with Valve taking home anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of profit from a studio depending on the number of purchases a game accumulates. With the Epic Games Store,designers are enticed by a flat rate of 12 percent and come away earning an impressive 88 percent of all sales. The economy of video game retail was a crucial point to consider.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said, “As a developer ourselves, we have always wanted a platform with great economics that connects us directly with our players. Thanks to the success of Fortnite, we now have this and are ready to share it with other developers.”
Studios are not the only group considering the possibility of Steam falling to a new titan of the digital storefront. Consumers will have a heavy impact on the success of the store and its future growth, and the reasoning behind getting rid of Steam once-and-for-all is starting to become clearer each day. Steam has been notorious for releasing mountains of shovelware titles and simple mobile ports for lackluster games through its infamous early access programs: the now defunct Steam Greenlight and current Steam Direct. Valve as a developer themselves has also lost trust in the community considering some of their most popular games - Portal, Left for Dead and Half Life - have had sequels released in over five years.
This is not the first example of large development firms deciding to go against Steam and release games on their own platform. The messaging app Discord introduced their own games store back in August. Bethesda only allowed downloads of their most recent title Fallout: 76 to be completed through the online launcher Bethesda.net. EA has a subscription-based model for pc games using Origin and Activision-Blizzard has their own launcher and store for hits like Overwatch, World of Warcraft and Diablo III.
The road to topple Steam will be a difficult one though as the community behind it is over 13 million users strong and has gained experience online for more than 15 years. Even with games alady to purchase online such as early access for Supergiant Game’s new dungeon crawler Hades and a slew of titles releasing in the future like Journey and World War Z,there are many key features still missing on the platform. Wish lists, giftcards and large triple-A game releases are nowhere to be seen, and the refund policy requires a ton of extra identification compared to Steam’s close to automatic system of processing requests. Epic certainly has room to improve when it comes to the launch of their exclusive game marketplace.
Steam could have a major threat on its hands if they don’t make improvements of their own. The hope now is that Fortnite’s developers can weather the storm of other popular publishers trying to build up competition against Valve’s king of online video game retail.