Epic games is shelling some hard earned money in order to bolster their Epic Games Store offerings thanks to the staggering financial success of Fortnite.
As Microsoft continues to buy up developers to help bolster their first-party offerings, Epic Games is doing something a bit differently, something similar to what we’d seen Microsoft do in the past with franchises such as Dead Rising and even the smash-hit series Tomb Raider for a single entry.
But Epic Games didn’t know they had struck gold until the launch of Fortnite in 2017, quickly causing Epic fans to forget about the incomplete titles Epic had been working on including a reboot of Unreal Tournament and even the already-in-development Paragon. It seemed that Epic Games had finally found their newfound sense of wealth from their smash-hit Battle Royale title that captivated fans around the world.
They continued to deliver top-notch content in comparison to the struggling PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and the slowly, but surely, struggling title Radical Heights from the now-defunct Boss Key Productions founded by former Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski. But as any business venture goes, you have to find new grounds, and even grow your brand past a single title if you’re going to run a storefront of any form.
As of earlier this year, Epic Games hit a critical stride by moving forward with the Epic Games Store, which set itself apart from the competition with a generous, and extremely developer-friendly revenue split of 88 to 12, letting the developers save even more money compared to that of what they would have seen on Steam at a 20% cut letting developers only take home 80% of what their game makes as long as it is featured on their store.
But that doesn’t stop the fact that users are already concerned about Epic Games’ sniffing around their computers, which Epic has already had to respond, issuing their response regarding what they are actually doing in our computers on a day-to-day basis when Epic Store is actually running after accusations arose on Reddit as of recent.
The odd business practices, however, don’t end there. Epic is paying absolutely massive amounts to get Epic Store exclusives to sell to its 85+ million active users, and even enticing developers along with their publishers through its approach to revenue sharing.
“I don’t think we plan to do it forever.”
During GDC 2019, Steve Allison, Epic Games Store chief, said they’d heard the criticisms from PC gamers and that they are working to address their concerns moving forward. This includes their ability to slowly bring their strategy of securing exclusive games much as the console industry has for multiple generations.
According to Allison, he feels it will disappear eventually, telling the crowd that, “I don’t think we plan to do it forever. I expect that we’re already seeing the ecosystem come to life, from a sales and users perspective,” stated Allison during GDC 2019.
But Allison wasn’t done there, he continued on, explaining that Epic Games will “probably do it for a while. It’s about pushing the business model and helping people thrive. Hopefully, people just come eventually or the industry moves down to match us. But the answer is yes, we will at some point go to zero or very, very few exclusives per year. Definitely not going to be doing it at the scale we’re doing now.” (source: The Verge)
However, it almost seems as if Epic doesn’t see the bigger problem here. PC gamers want a free market, they want a more user-friendly interface, one that allows for fans to pick and choose where they purchase their games and choose to play them. Unfortunately, some fans remain critical about how Metro: Exodus was handled and some even remain rather critical about games like Control, Solar Ash Kingdom, and even the highly anticipated title Outer Worlds from former Fallout team Obsidian being Epic Store exclusives.
But it doesn’t end there. There is a rather vocal subset of gamers, primarily PC users, who are not at all pleased with Epic Games at this time. They’ve gone as far as to make threats with a title like “Stop advertising your game on Steam if you are going to make it an Epic exclusive,” and one that’s almost as harsh as it sounds as you read through the thread itself.
“Except, fans are still mad about Epics relations with the China-based publisher, Tencent.”
But the most critical of all the feedback is those in the community, who have found Epics relations with Tencent, the China-based publisher, to be rather bothersome. According to their research to have solid proof that Tencent is using the Epic store to snoop around a users computer as long as the Epic Launcher is up and running.
The accusations even led Tim Sweeney, co-founder and CEO of Epic Games, to respond to the conspiracy theories that keep arising that the information gathering is used to sell off and or market a user’s data and that Tencent themselves are also major shareholders that are pulling the reigns of the Epic Games sled.
“Tencent is a significant, but minority shareholder in Epic,” Sweeney stated. “I’m the controlling shareholder of Epic… The decisions Epic makes are ultimately my decisions, made here in North Carolina based on my beliefs as a game developer about what the game industry needs!”
But this isn’t the first time Epic has been under fire. Last December, when they revealed their partnership with Tencent, which saw Tencent buy an estimated 48% of Epic Games’ shares. When this happened, Sweeney once again had to step up and reaffirm Epics stance about user data and safety concerns, “Epic does not share user data with Tencent or any other company. We don’t share it, sell it, or broker access to it for advertising like so many other companies do. I’m the founder and controlling shareholder of Epic and would never allow this to happen.”
Except, fans are still mad about Epics relations with the China-based publisher, Tencent. Now, there’s just more fuel to the fire over Metro Exodus in recent days.
“The reality is, Tim Sweeney is super responsive on Reddit, but gets downvoted enough, his responses don’t appear very often.”
During GDC, Epic Games’ Steve Allison even addressed the PC gaming community, knowing they’ve slammed a wedge into the very heart of the community they are trying to win back over. “We’re trying. Tim Sweeney is in the middle of those conversations. He tries to engage with folks.”
The reality is, Tim Sweeney is super responsive on Reddit, but gets downvoted enough, his responses don’t appear very often. It’s a harsh reality that he has to live with, even as Sweeney and the Epic Games team attempt to win the PC gaming community over once again. The only issue they have to face? The gaming community is extremely critical and their trust is hard to earn.
With accusations of the Epic Launcher being spyware, a concern in our modern age of cybersecurity and PC gaming, the sentiment such a thing is happening raises concern among PC users. “We’re definitely not making spyware, and we’re definitely not run by China and we’re not trying to build an empire. We’re trying to help developers,” Allison states in his closing statement to those attending GDC.
If you plan on playing Detroit: Become Human, Beyond Two Souls, and Heavy Rain on PC, you may want to consider giving the Epic Launcher a chance as all three former-PlayStation exclusives are going to launch exclusively on the Epic Store later this year.
About the Writers:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.