Remember 2019? Yeah, those were the days. I remember it like it was just a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, remember the 2019 Store Wars?
In case you were lucky enough to miss the whole Store Wars business (and I’m hoping most of you did, because it was so silly in retrospect): in a nutshell, Epic Games started its own PC gaming storefront that operated in direct opposition to the entrenched Steam. It successfully drew in indie developers by offering a more attractive revenue split (and threw some pretty harsh shade at Steam and Google Play’s existing split while doing so) as well as a guaranteed sales minimum. It also snatched up exclusivity for a number of games that most likely would have come out on Steam otherwise — in some cases, even snatching them from under Valve’s nose.
Gamers were… split about whether this was actually good for them. I’ve summarized this debate so many times I feel like I’m putting myself to sleep just reiterating the points further. In essence, one side said competition was good, the other said paying for exclusives was unfair to the consumer. I’m leaving a whole lot out, but the fact that the Epic Store was suddenly the only place to buy many games on PC was the material point for a lot of gamers on both sides.
Turns out Epic had the right idea about exclusivity, judging by the sales data it released today. When you are the only place from which people can buy a coveted item, they will come to you. According to Epic, Game Store customers have spent $680 million so far, and CEO Tim Sweeney himself credits exclusives with getting the number that high.
In an interview with GameDaily, Sweeney said:
Exclusives have been critical in gaining momentum in the presence of a competitor that began 2019 with more than 90% market share. Securing exclusives for Epic means we can significantly assist developers with product funding and invest in marketing and awareness knowing that these efforts bring in new customers to our store, rather than just sending more business to the incumbent.
Between this and the free games, Epic appears to have made serious inroads on the so-called PC Master Race. The company also announced today it was extending its weekly offering of free games into 2020.
So while there are no doubt still naysayers who will cry foul when a game is revealed to be Epic Store exclusive (recall the Ooblets developers allegedly getting death threats over it), the numbers appear to support Epic’s strategy. Whether we like it or not (and I have to say I kinda do), the Epic Store is here to stay and on its way to being a bonafide PC gaming institution.
Sweeney promised more exclusives to come this year — and we know that Godfall, Rogue Company, and Magic: The Gathering Arena will be among them.