Epic's New PC Game Store Is Making Waves Even Without A Lot Of Games

Epic Games' new digital storefront went live last night during the Game Awards and it already has an exclusive to call its own: Hades, the latest game from the developers of Bastion and Pyre at Supergiant Games. It's one of the reasons to give the store, which lives inside Epic's game launcher for Fortnite, a look in the coming weeks. While Epic doesn't have nearly the selection of games Steam does, it's doing some interesting things that are worth keeping an eye one.

The store only contains three purchasable games, so isn't ready to knock Steam out just yet. The biggest hook for players now is that Epic will be giving away a free game every two weeks. For December that means the underwater survival exploration game Subnautica on December 14, followed by Super Meat Boy starting December 28.

Services on PS4 and Xbox One as well as Twitch and EA's Access all dole out games for the price of a regular subscription, but Epic is offering their freebies without any monthly subscription fee. It remains to be seen how good the free games offered are in the future, but Subnautica and Super Meat Boy are decent enough to start.

The other notable thing about the Epic Games store is its revenue split with game developers, which is closer to the generous terms of an itch.io than it is with Steam. Developers get 88 per cent of the the money that comes in from sales of their games on the platform. That's regardless of how much their game sells, or how big the studio is.

But while that revenue split might draw more game creators to the store, right now it's extremely small and simplistic. In addition to Hades, there are currently only two other games you can buy: Ashen, the action role-playing game that just released on console and PC yesterday, and Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek.

Darksiders III, a game with no shortages of flaws, will get added on December 14, along with Subnautica followed by Super Meat Boy at the end of the month. There are nine other games listed as "coming soon":

  • Genesis Alpha One by Radiation Blue and Team17

  • Journey by thatgamecompany and Annapurna Interactive

  • Maneater by Tripwire Interactive (coming soon)

  • Outer Wilds by Mobius Digital and Annapurna Interactive

  • Pathless by Giant Squid Studios

  • Rebel Galaxy Outlaw by Double Damage Games

  • Satisfactory by Coffee Stain Studios

  • Super Meat Boy Forever by Team Meat

  • World War Z by Saber Interactive

While this selection is sure to grow, it's clear Epic Games store isn't going to be anything like Steam in the near future. That's not necessarily abad thing. When it was announced on Tuesday, the store was pitched as starting as a "hand-curated" experience and I have to say, after becoming accustomed to tuning out most of the noise on Steam as I try to sift through its algorithmically-engineered lists of top new and upcoming games, it's refreshing to just be able to scroll down a list of what I can buy.

Store pages for individual games like Hades have some information and trailers but no user reviews or links to forums, newsfeeds, and lots of other features which can occasionally be useful but also overwhelming and unnecessary. While Epic has said its storefront will get things like user reviews in the future, it'll be optional for developers and can be deployed on a per-game basis.

The left margin of the storefront is reserved for links to your game library, current downloads, and friends list, but that's it.

It's crisp and minimalist. It probably won't stay that way for long as it gets more crowded and ambitious. For now though, it's frankly a nice break from the cacophony of distractions and attention grabbers everywhere else on my computer and the internet.


Comments

    Whilst I'm in favour of creating competition to steam to force new inovation and better deals for publishers and customers alike, I can't help but be wary that the more platforms there are the more likely we are to have the same problems as netflex. they were the only game in town for the longest time and now that everyone and their mother has a service to offer, shows are made exclusive to to just one of those services. I can't help but, feel this is how the games industry will go and I don't know how I feel about that.

      isn't it already partly like that though? you don't see Blizzard's library on Steam... or any of the new EA games.

      honestly it just makes a whole lot of commercial sense given how Steam takes a cut of the sale, it just sucks for us consumers because now we have another program to install

      Difference between this and Netflix (or subscription services in general) is exactly that, its not a subscription service, its free.

      Sure it sucks when your forced to use one launcher over another, but unlike Netflix, I can download Origin, buy a game, play it and leave it and re-download it 2 months later and nothing changes, while Netflix, you have to un-subscribe or your paying.

      And for exclusivity, its always been like that. Origin only has EA games, Battle.net only has games that are exclusive to Battle.net. Uplay shares its games (but forces you to use both), but thats never going to change just like you can't buy Portal 2 on Epic Games Store.

        The real problem is when a store goes bust. Hasn't happened a lot, yet (greenhouse, impulse, and direct2drive was on life support for a while there), but we haven't seen this kind of fragmentation before either.

          Denuvo went bust. They mainly did indie games, but everything I owned I didn't have a copy of at the time. I lost.
          Luckily unlike others they weren't used as DRM for the games.

        Yeah but exclusivity also works as in: hey that games only on that platform, oh well I can't be bothered downloading another storefront (don't have origins or Uplay either). Then forget about it.

      Netflix is a subscription service so it doesn't really equate. The only games I see it being a problem for are multiplayer games as steam-join is such an easy way to join friend's games.

      The problem is that it's largely not competition for users at all, it's competition for developers.

      Most specifically, the Epic Store's entire business model is based around catering to developers, not users. Things like low commissions, no pesky review bombing, no forums to maintain.

      One thing that developers do not like, but consumers do, is getting forced into constant discounting battles.

      So, as you say, the most likely outcome is many more shop-front exclusives, much less frequent discounting, and even more fragmentation in everyone's game libraries.

      It's a problem that GOG, at least, has gone some way to mitigating by offering free copies to users for games already owned on Steam. I'd be surprised if we saw the same thing with Epic but it would certainly make me feel more comfortable with the platform if they did.

    I find it interesting that three times you had to mention it doesn't have as many games as Steam does.
    Three times.
    That number was three. I didn't see four, and you should have probably stopped at two but you proceeded to three. I guess at least you didn't say it a fifth, that would have been right out.

    Wow, imagine the buzz and hype when the new Unreal Tournament launches on the platform as a limited exclu...oh wait a sec.

    Oh, cool. Exclusives. Exactly what I wanted to see. More of that stick forcing us to download yet another fucking storefront if we want to buy the game.

      I wonder if someone could make a program to compile all the other platforms? I don't know programming so I'm guessing it's too hard or at least too legally hard.

        it'd be much like steam and ubisoft games. at the end your basically still running the other programs to get there anyway.

    Oh it's early access! For a second there I thought I had to opt into Epic Store immediately. That would have been a good way to get people in if it was a full release.

    Genesis alpha one is causing issues on Steam at the moment. Apparently they have been telling people on steam get on social media hype the game and are now saying thanks for the support but we aren't selling the game on steam.

    Journey by thatgamecompany and Annapurna Interactive

    I think you meant to say Ashen.

    Alright, I tried out the store and bought Ashen on it, was looking at Hades because some folks I know where raving about it, but early reviews indicates it's got a lot of cooking left to do before it's ready, so yeah - no early access for me.

    Man, the store... needs a lot of work. Very clearly this is just a 'get it up and running' most basic of alphas ever. Lot of really basic quality of life things missing.

    For starters, there's no community forum. No feedback, no forum, no subreddit, nothing. No wishlists so you can be notified when which titles you are mildly interested in drop in price to make you more interested, no ability to ignore/hide titles you really don't give a shit about (Fortnite) or already own. Stuff that's already in your library still occupies a crazy amount of real estate on the storefront. There are no options for how/what titles are presented - it's all just a scrolling sprawl of massive tiles. Prices are in USD only.

    Without that kind of basic QoL considerations for consumers, this shit ain't competing with Steam in a hurry. I have no idea why they chose to launch it before it was even remotely ready. What was the rush? Seems like the only waves this storefront is going to make is for developers seeing dollar signs.

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