Why People Are So Mad About The Epic Games Store

Why People Are So Mad About The Epic Games Store

For more than a decade, Steam has dominated the PC gaming market. More than 100 million people have amassed vast game collections on Valve’s platform, not to mention friends and communities. Now Epic is trying to muscle in on Steam’s turf, and a certain segment of PC game players are remarkably mad about that. Here are the reasons why.

“Unfair” exclusive games

The creator of Fortnite and Unreal Engine launched its PC game store stem the tide of toxicity that’s plagued Steam for years.

Epic had a few lower-profile exclusive games during this initial launch, such as Ashen and Hades. But when it began to accumulate a series of increasingly high-profile exclusive games from triple-A studios, like Walking Dead: The Final Season, The Division 2, and (for some reason) the collected works of David Cage, that’s when players began to get angry.

The tipping point was Metro: Exodus. Epic announced its exclusivity on January 28, just two weeks prior to the game’s launch. It was so close to launching that it already had its own Steam page, and many customers had already pre-ordered it on Valve’s service.

Valve itself then entered the conversation — rather than removing the game’s Steam page, it left it online and posted a note that read, in part, that “the decision to remove the game is unfair to Steam customers.” This gave Steam fans their rallying cry: Competition might be good, but Epic’s type of competition was not fair.

Review bombs of earlier games in the series on Steam followed, as did irate mobs on Twitter, Reddit, and other websites. In Metro’s case, some went after people who weren’t even involved in the decision, like Metro book series author Dmitry Glukhovsky.

This has now become standard practice when a high-profile game becomes an Epic exclusive, as most recently seen with Borderlands 3, which also resulted in review bombs and widespread rage.

Why, though, are people this upset? After all, it’s not like big companies haven’t tried to compete with Steam before. Most famously, Electronic Arts migrated its biggest series over to its own homegrown platform Origin back in 2011, causing Steam to miss out on more recent iterations of Battlefield, Titanfall, and Dragon Age, among others.. Origin is far from beloved, but it’s never prompted this kind of outcry, either. Plus, it’s not like these temporary Epic Games Store exclusives are skipping PC. People just have to download another, free launcher to play them.

Perhaps the difference is that Epic isn’t just taking its ball and going home — it’s snatching up a whole Dick’s Sporting Goods’ worth of balls, helmets, and cleats. It’s not just keeping its own games, like Fortnite, off Valve’s platform, but enticing away games from Steam. That seems to be the definition, here, of “unfair” competition.

Leaving Steam features behind

Epic is snaring lots of exclusives at a time when Steam is even more entrenched than it was back when the likes of EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s Uplay launched. Players like Steam’s robust suite of extra features. Popping open Epic’s launcher means temporarily exiting the Steam ecosystem, leaving behind friends lists (if you choose not to import them), groups, and quality-of-life features with it.

It doesn’t help that booting up Epic’s store is like walking into a post-apocalyptic supermarket. It’s as barren as they come in terms of features, with next to nothing in the way of community tools, cloud saves, achievements, offline modes, wishlists, mod support, user reviews, forums, or other longtime Steam standards. Many of these things are planned, but they’re still a ways off.

Even minor Steam features can mean more to some people than you’d initially expect. As ex-Valve developer Chet Faliszek said over the weekend on Twitter, Valve’s trading card system is more important to some players than you might think. You can earn them by playing games, sell them on the Steam marketplace, and earn cash. “Between them and selling items when I was playing PUBG, I earned enough to buy multiple games,” Faliszek said. “That’s crazy powerful, especially in depressed regions.”

Concerns about “spyware” and/or conspiracy theories

Earlier this year, Redditors claimed to have discovered evidence that the Epic Games Store included spyware intended to track users. This, Epic went on to explain, is just software that keeps tabs on page statistics to help more accurately pay people as part of Epic’s “Support-A-Creator” program. Epic said the rest is just basic hardware survey info, which is outlined in the company’s privacy policy. Steam has a similar optional feature.

People also accused the Epic Store of mining and sharing Steam data without permission, but Epic said it only sends that data back to itself if users opt into importing their Steam friends lists to the Epic launcher. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney did, however, acknowledge that there was something wrong with the feature as it launched, saying that the launcher should only access those Steam files “after the user chooses to import Steam friends. The version that raised eyebrows, he said, was a “remnant left over from our rush to implement social features in the early days of Fortnite.”

Epic’s Store has also been dogged by security concerns, albeit largely ones stemming from Fortnite’s spotty history in that area. Similarly, Fortnite’s reputation for bad customer service has carried over to the store its countless cartoon millions helped construct, as well as a refund system that’s received mixed reviews. Epic believes that reputation is overblown.

Steam has also had its fair share of large-scale security fiascoes and customer service gaffes over the years. It’s also constantly collecting data about users. But for these same users, these things clearly have not been deal-breakers.

Then there are the Chinese conspiracy theories. Yes, it’s time to go down a rabbit hole. The conspiracy theories stem from the aforementioned spyware accusations and the fact that Chinese company Tencent, one of the biggest video game companies in the world, owns 40 per cent of Epic. The Epic Store’s most vocal opponents have decided that Epic and Tencent are selling users’ data to the Chinese government.

These fears are, to be clear, outlandish, but not entirely outside the realm of possibility, given that the Chinese government likes to buddy up with big companies, and some, like telecommunications giant Huawei, have been accused of colluding with the Chinese government in pursuit of espionage. However, Tencent also owns portions of Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Riot, Discord, and Paradox, among others, and there’s been no funny business to speak of. In addition, Epic says that Tencent is one of many investors, not a shadowy dictator.

Last week, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney directly addressed the conspiracy theories in a Twitter thread. “I support everyone’s right to complain about tech industry stuff,” he said. “Epic’s store, with exclusive games and a spartan feature set, is a fine target for ire. But please help separate facts and opinions from the lies about spyware and foreign control. I’m the controlling shareholder in Epic Games, and have been since 1991. We have a number of outside investors now. Tencent is the largest. All of Epic’s investors our [sic] friends and partners. None can dictate decisions to Epic. None have access to Epic customer data.”

A vision of a fragmented PC future breaking up Steam’s convenient monopoly

On its own, Epic’s store is an inconvenience, a few extra clicks before you can play a cool new game. That’s literally it right now. It doesn’t force you to spend additional money just to install it, nor does it, say, delete Steam from your PC. But if everybody starts fleeing from Steam, PC gaming could become a jumbled mess of disparate game stores, collections, and communities, each with their own rules and quality standards.

Steam, for all its flaws, has unified and standardised PC gaming. However, it’s never been a complete monopoly. Blizzard games like World of Warcraft and, more recently, Overwatch have always had their own ecosystem. So has League of Legends. For years, though, games like that felt like outliers. In recent years, we’ve seen more continental drift, with Activision adding Call of Duty and Destiny to Blizzard’s launcher while Bethesda chose (at least, temporarily) to go its own way with Fallout 76.

Meanwhile, other major players like Discord have launched stores with their own, lower-profile exclusive programs. With these things in mind, you can see why some Steam users might have a dystopian vision of the future. Some imagine a world in which the Epic Games Store kills Steam and replaces it as the biggest PC gaming mega-mart in town, forcing people to re-buy games they’d previously owned on Steam. There’s no evidence this will actually happen, given that Steam is still doing just fine and Valve has more money than several real-world nations, but that hasn’t stopped people from extrapolating what’s happening right now into a potent worst-case scenario.

They’ve been dealing with Valve’s version of “fairness” for years

It makes sense that Steam users would view things like this through a lens of perceived “fairness” even if Valve hadn’t used the word itself. After all, their default for more than a decade has been Valve’s ecosystem and the messaging about openness and fairness that accompanies it. Valve has spent years implementing laissez-faire, free-market policies for everything from game releases to user reviews to community groups and then reacting to controversies stemming from those policies by opening things up even more.

In its messaging over the years, Valve has continually stressed a dedication to keeping Steam open and fair, at least by its own definitions of the terms. It has designed a series of systems and charts that, on their face, seem impersonal and unbiased. The core underlying structure of Steam is an algorithm that’s meant to serve up game recommendations to users on a meritocratic basis. Based on what players previously have seemed to like and other factors like prior popularity, review scores, and wishlists, games get more visibility or they don’t. Steam is, seemingly, guided purely by the market. All games are locked in gladiatorial combat for attention. Each one has an equal chance. The best games rise, while merely decent and, of course, bad games fall.

It is through this lens that Steam users define what constitutes “fair” and “unfair” competition. They can define what unfair competition looks like in a heartbeat. It’s any overt attempts to undermine this entrenched, often-taken-for-granted system. Within Steam, that might mean “fake” games intended to help people farm trading cards or achievements — games that aren’t traditionally “good,” but also aren’t really hurting anybody, by Valve’s measure. Despite this, these games have drawn a disproportionate amount of ire over the years, and Valve has historically done a poor job of shutting that ire down.

The same goes for developers who game the review system, or delete comments on forums. In the grand scheme of things, few developers actually do this, but Steam users view any instance of it as symptomatic of a larger rot. Epic, too, is gaming Steam’s ostensibly fair system. It’s throwing money around to lock down highly anticipated games for arbitrary periods of time on PC, where all borders are ultimately arbitrary and the default is Steam. Epic isn’t testing its mettle against competitors on an even playing field, the line of thinking goes; it’s giving itself an artificial advantage with heaping gobs of cash.

But that notion of fairness is ultimately illusory, born of the way Valve has run its business since Steam began making enough money for it to transform into an IRL version of the company from Portal. The algorithm is continually designed and updated by human beings, and has biases. Sometimes Valve performs experiments on it with unintended consequences that benefit big games over small ones. Other times, it works exactly as intended, but tends to prioritise games that are already popular.

The free market is rarely, if ever, actually free, and competition, especially inside a well-oiled money-making machine like Steam, isn’t fair. People game the system precisely because Steam is unfair. Success often comes down to who can ride luck, the wax and wane of genre preferences, timing, gimmicks, algorithmic shifts, and even underhanded tactics like lying about release dates to the top of a select handful of charts that go a disproportionately long way toward determining success or failure.

This inherent unfairness is present, too, in the competition between Steam and Epic, and it creates a similar sort of tension that Steam users can only vent through rage. In theory, “fair” competition would involve another service coming along with a better feature set than Steam and winning the day on merit alone. Easy enough. But, nestled within that sleek shell of simplicity is a briar ball of thorny particularities. What features could possibly lure Steam users away from their gargantuan game libraries on a store where everybody releases by default? In what sense is it “fair” that Valve has those things going for them? How can anyone hope to level that playing field and create a competitive environment that’s truly fair?

This is not to say that Valve has committed some great injustice by being so successful. Rather, the point is that there’s no such thing as fair competition at the scale Valve and Epic are operating on. The great equaliser (or un-equaliser, as it were) is, as ever, money. That’s infuriating to realise. It is the colossal bummer at the heart of capitalism. This has been like razor blades for Steam users to swallow because it seems to have been effective. Last month, Epic said that Metro Exodus sold two and a half times as many copies at launch as its predecessor, Metro: Last Light, did on Steam. It’s not just that Epic is using tactics that are perceived as “unfair.” It’s that those tactics are working.

The hate for the Epic Store stems from a variety of concerns. Some of them, like the store’s threadbare feature set, are legitimate, even if they don’t merit this degree of response. Other concerns, however, are conspiracy or conjecture, and all of the anger has been amplified by the megaphone of Steam’s own longtime rhetoric and structural issues. We’ve got a messy, drawn-out fight on our hands, and since Epic doesn’t seem like it’s finished snagging major exclusives for its store, things are probably just going to get messier before the dust settles.


  • Wasn’t aware ‘competition’ had be redefined as one team buying the field and kicking the other teams off it so they can’t even play.

    The more you know I guess.

    • I’ve said it before in these threads and will probably have to say it again and again;

      How else do you expect any competitor to make money against the Steam monopoly? Discounts? That’s hardly helped JB or Humble Store. Better customer service? That hasn’t helped GOG.

      The fact is that the only way to change the “no steam, no buy” mindset is to keep pushing people into making that decision – Do I go off Steam or do I simply not play the game I want?

      • My issue is largely with people saying what Epic are doing is ‘competition’, because it’s not.

        As @zombiejesus goes into in their comment elsewhere, Epic are explicitly preventing even the option of competing when they just run around buying and locking games into exclusivity.

        • That’s still competition. Just because they sell different titles doesn’t mean they aren’t competing for market share.

          Ford don’t sell commodores but they are still in direct competition of the car market with Holden, just as Foxtel is in competition with Netflix and Stan even though they all have exclusive deals for certain programs.

          • You completely ignore the fact that Ford aren’t stopping Holden from selling cars… On top of which you’re trying to make a comparison of manufacturers apply to shopfronts.

            Epic is making it impossible for stores like Steam, GoG, etc, to offer titles their consumers want… And the likes of Foxtel, Netflix, Stan, etc, buying rights to shows is just as bad, not to mention something that people have been arguing against for years as it is.

            Taking the ball home so nobody else can touch it doesn’t mean you’re being competitive.

          • You’re completely ignoring the fact that competition on a consumer level isn’t the only competition. Epic isn’t stopping X developer/publisher from selling their game on steam, they are offering a better deal that includes exclusivity. If Steam were offering a better deal, then steam would have the game. This is competition.

          • It is objectively not competition. If it was just about offering a better cut and organic transfer, nobody would be complaining. But it isn’t. They’re giving millions of dollars to developers in exchange for locking them in to only selling on the Epic store. They’re buying the race to prevent competitors from participating.

            Try watching a running race where there’s only one competitor because they paid to ensure no one else could run, or a football game where only one team was allowed on the field, and explain why you think that constitutes ‘competition’.

          • You seem to be missing lawlorz’ point. This is not a competition to have the most attractive storefront to consumers, it is to have the most attractive storefront to publishers.

            To use your analogy, there is no one competitor race because the Epic store is the only one selling a game; the race was already run by the two companies and the prize is who gets to sell it and by extension build or maintain their user base.

          • It is still competition, Steam has the option to pay developers to keep their product on Steam, and they certainly have deep enough pockets to do so if they want to.
            Microsoft Studios don’t release their product for PS4 to Switch or whatever, their games are only available on MS platforms, for example.
            Now Steam could compete by paying the developers directly, or by cutting their take or on a bunch of other fronts. All of those methods are spending money to be competitive. I don’t see the difference from a conceptual point of view. Exclusivity is a dick move, but it is still a competitive one.

          • @poita First party exclusives aren’t the problem here. Microsoft keeping their own products to their own platform is no different to Valve and Epic and EA keeping their own products on their own platforms. It’s a mild inconvenience, but it doesn’t rise at all to the level of fuckery that third party exclusivity does.

            Restricting competition is not a form of competition; at least not by legal definitions nor social ones. What you’re describing is saying it’s okay for me to buy all the running races at the Olympics so I’m the only participant because you can ‘compete’ by buying all the shotput events to compensate.

            The lack of competition that kind of thing results in is why internet services in the United States are so terrible in many places. Cities and towns ‘franchised’ ISPs to provide internet infrastructure in exchange for exclusive service to that area. As exclusive vendors, there’s no reason to ever reduce price or improve service because there’s no competitive pressure to do so. Fortunately, Australia recognised that exclusive use of infrastructure (buying the race, effectively) was harmful to competition and prevented Telstra and Optus from doing it.

          • @waltkowalski I didn’t ignore his point, it’s just wrong. Supplier exclusivity is restraint of trade that leads to monopolisation. By this logic, a wealthy company can ‘compete’ by buying exclusivity from every supplier. However, the direct result is to drive competitors out of business by denying them supply, producing a much larger net loss of competition across the market than what little allegedly existed in the ‘buying exclusivity’ contest in the first place. Even if two companies ‘competed’ equally and each bought exclusivity from half of suppliers, you end up with an oligopoly that effectively prohibits new competitors from entering the market. All outcomes result in a net reduction in competition across the market.

            Exclusive dealing isn’t always illegal, but it is always anti-competitive.

          • You’re completely ignoring the fact that competition on a consumer level isn’t the only competition.
            Consumers don’t care about which company has the biggest market share or the likes, it’s actually pretty much entirely irrelevant to them compared to things like what a company can offer them.

            Discussing consumer competition on a basis that consumers consider largely irrelevant would be plainly moronic, which is precisely why I haven’t been. The fact you clearly knew this and made the comment you did anyway is perplexing.

      • How else do you expect any competitor to make money against the Steam monopoly?

        By providing a service that is more attractive to customers. You know, like how every business in every industry competes. Steam isn’t a monopoly, that requires exclusivity that Steam has never had. It’s just the dominant player, amongst a dozen odd competitors.

        • By providing a service that is more attractive to customers.
          That’s lovely to say but doesn’t really mean anything in the real world. The question is *how* do you provide a better service to customers? GOG for example already provides more freedom (and often better prices) than Steam but they’re struggling for business while Steam continues to thrive. The fact is (as I said above) a large amount of the Steam customer base live by the motto “no Steam, no buy.” You could offar a house and car with a game purchase and those people still wouldn’t be swayed to a different store because it simply isn’t Steam. It’s basically the perfect example of sunk cost fallacy in action.

          You know, like how every business in every industry competes.
          That simply isn’t true. Most industries use exclusivity contracts to lock down certain products or suppliers, forcing their competitors to find better products/suppliers or to find a way to take the exclusivity back. It might not be nice but it is pretty standard capitalism.

          • How you provide a better service is by identifying things the dominant service does that customers don’t like, and doing it better. There are several areas that Steam is weak in that could be provided in Epic’s store to distinguish it, including curation or better discovery, or something like Uplay’s club points system that lets you buy discounts on other games by playing the ones you have. There are tons of ways Epic could offer a distinct service that would attract people naturally rather than artificially by preventing competition. Hell, I would have been tempted to use their store for the 12% cut alone if they hadn’t gone and done this exclusivity bullshit.

            There are always going to be people who stick to their chosen store, “no Steam no buy” as you say. The proper way to deal with them is to appeal to them as best as possible but if they don’t want to move then then that’s their right as a consumer. Forcing them to move is an dirty tactic that will only create resentment and hostility, which is exactly what is happening now.

          • On top of what @zombiejesus says, there are two ways I can see how Epic can provide a better service.

            1) Be cheaper. There reduced cut allows them to undercut Steam, and still provide an increased profit to the publisher. That’s a better service to the consumer.

            2) Provide options Steam cant or doesn’t. Example being crossplay. If they could be a central hub for games to be crossplay across the platforms, that’s a better service. If they had all the comments features of Steam, but ways to curate the toxicity, that’s a better service. Those are better services to the developer/publisher.

            With none of those being done, there is no improvement to the process, so at BEST we’re no worse off. But by being yet another launcher, its one more thing to remember, meaning that by default we’re worse off.

            See what I say below. I think this exclusivity bullshit hurts the publishers myself simply because it limits the customer base. So their improved cut of the RRP ends up being a smaller profit than they would otherwise.

            The sole benefit of the exclusivity is the guarantee (ie the Epic payment), which becomes meaningless once they sell enough to earn more than that. As far as I’m aware they pay that back from sales so in effect they are betting on their products not selling.

            That’s the only way I can see publishers getting a benefit from this. If the game is such a dud they don’t meet minimum sales. And even Fallout 76 sold enough to get to that point.

        • Thats ridiculous.

          Tell me, would you prefer all your shows on Netflix, or split up amongst different services? Thats all this conversation boils down to.

          Honestly, this anti Epic Store nonsense has to end. If Epic had another, cheaper way to take market share from Valve, they would.
          The fact is, they could have the greatest storefront on earth, and they’d still lag massively behind Steam.

          Or are you suggesting publishers should take some of their increased revenue split on Epic and pass it on to customers (in which case, why would they even bother with the ES in the first place?).

          I know this conversation will go nowhere. But Epic isn’t going anywhere, so let’s all just revisit it in a year or two.

          • I’d prefer shows were available on multiple services such that I could choose which one to watch it on. That is what this conversation boils down to, making sure people have choice in where they get their games from. If they want to get it from Epic then they can get it from Epic, but if they want to get it from GOG or Discord or Steam, it should also be available on those stores too.

            I don’t want Epic to ‘go anywhere’, I want Epic to stop paying for third party exclusivity. They can and should compete on features, like all the other stores competing with Steam do.

          • No surprise, but so would I. That way I could choose the service with the best video quality, easiest menu, lowest price and best browser support. Right?

            But that’s not how media licenses work. Netflix, Stan, Amazon and Foxtel all have their own titles – either self produced or licensed for a limited time – and I subscribe to each individual service when I want to watch a show locked to that service.

            I mean, I totally get that people want the option to get everything on Steam. I would too. But people are kidding themselves if they think Epic stood a chance in hell without exclusive content.

            Content is king.

          • I said elsewhere, but just because it’s done in other industries doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, and it doesn’t mean it should get a free pass here.

            I really do believe Epic could have competed on their own merits with the 12% cut alone, if they’d offered a more feature-rich storefront when they launched and did no exclusives. I nearly considered buying from them even without any features just on the 12% cut basis, but their exclusivity deals turned that maybe into a hard no.

        • It isn’t monopoly as such. More incumbency or inertia that needs to be overcome. Once that happens then consumers will be better off. Noone wins if Steam is dominant and unchallenged as all they will do is sit on their hoard of cash from clipping tickets like some lethargic dragon.

          That epic have chosen exclusives is probably the only meaningful way to overcome the inertia of Steam. It is working if Steam are starting to reduce their cut on popular titles. Steam has had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get some of the current features we have now over more than a decade.

          In the long run as consumers we will be better off with more than one incumbent. I am prepared to give them a tenth of the time Steam has had to evolve to its current state and see what epic can do.

      • That’s hardly helped JB or Humble Store.

        Don’t know about you, but there was a period of about 5-6 years where JB’s prices pushed me to get games from them over EB or even digital stores, because they were cheaper and more convenient. I still go to JB first for physical copies, because their prices are extremely competitive, and I don’t have to wait on delivery.

        Discounts most definitely helped when they could subsidise any loss with profits from other departments… which is exactly what Epic could be doing with their Fortnight money. Instead, their prices are not only not competitive, they don’t allow their keys to be sold through third-party stores, so there’s not even a possibility of competitive pricing.

    • If you’re going to make a sporting analogy, then the Super League war seems apt:


      Here you had some parties unhappy with the status quo setting up a rival league that would offer a better revenue share to those involved. You’ve got exclusivity agreements, threats to kick teams out of the original league, an evil multinational (Murdoch) supporting the upstart league, etc.

      The new league didn’t end up unseating the old one (they merged), but it did have the effect of changing the status quo.

  • I don’t like the exclusive games, I would rather they advertise the same game on the Epic store for cheaper as Epic takes less of a cut. Then you could decide if you wanted to pay more to get it on Steam.

    Other than that, I do agree people whinge about this too much.

    • I think in time it will come to that, but in the short term, Epic needs ‘bums on seats’ so there is no better way than to attract people to its marketplace than by offering up eagerly anticipated third-party games as exclusive offerings. It’s very aggressive, and that is why a number of people take exception to it. These people are a vocal minority though. Epic just needs some time to get people used to its system.

    • Epic ic already taking a smaller cut. 12% to Valves 30% ffs.

      What you’re asking for is the publisher to reduce their price on the Epic Store. Essentially giving the increased margin Epic provides away to customers.

      Why? Why would they bother with the Epic store at all then?
      Honestly, some of you need to consider what you’re suggesting.

      • You don’t seem to be thinking about this mathematically.
        If a game was sold on Steam for $50, then after taking away Valve’s 30% the publisher would be earning $35.
        If a game was sold on the Epic Store for $45, then after taking away Epic’s 12% the publisher would be earning $39.60.
        With Epic agreeing to taking a smaller cut, they have definitely opened the way for incentivising lower pricing. Their lesser cut means that publishers can instead either earn that extra percentage themselves, or through an agreement with Epic they would pass a portion of that extra onto the consumer as a discount, whilst still making a profit. This way consumers would still have the choice of Steam for library-consolidation at an increased price, or save a few dollars via Epic. The publisher would still earn more with every sale on Epic, Epic would be gaining consumer loyalty, and Steam would still be earning from sales.
        The way it’s happening though, consumers lose due to lack of choice, publisher loses on sales due to consumers being turned off by Epic’s choice. Epic loses consumer confidence, and Steam loses on sales until after the exclusivity time expires.

        • This depends on the payment processor used too – they can take up to 25% in some instances, and most transactions in Asia/SEA aren’t done with CC/Paypal or one of the bigger merchants that take smaller fees.

          • @bodmaniac @alexwalker
            Publishers set standard regional list pricing. They can then adjust % discounts on different storefronts.

            With physical goods, you cannot set different RRP’s for different customers. I can only assume there is similar protections in place for digital goods and storefronts? Perhaps Alex can clarify this point?

          • My suggestion wasn’t “different RRPs for different customers”, it was 2 stores offering different pricing on the item. It’s the same as how JB Hi-FI will usually sell games for less than EB, causing the latter to have to price-match when enquired.

          • Publishers set their own prices on digital store fronts. Epic has no say in that. Epic simply takes a percentage of the sale, as cd keys are freely generated.

            With physical stores, a publisher might set an RRP on $99, while selling wholesale boxed copies for $60. All the publisher cares about is that they sell the item for $60… stores can do what they want after that.

            JB may decide to sell for $66 (way, way underneath RRP), but EB may simply go with the RRP (knowing they can always price match JB).

            If a publisher has set the RRP in a region as $99 – I would be very, very surprised if they can then log into the back end of Steam/Epic and set different sell price (before discount). ie $99 on Steam and $89 on Epic.

            Hopefully Alex can elaborate here, as it’s something I’m genuinely interested to know the answer on.

          • So publishers can set the price at whatever they want. The kicker is who the customer decides to use to make the payment in the final step.

            Now, in Australia and most of the Western world, that’s handled by a straight credit card transaction. Or PayPal. Maybe some other kind of wierd crypto bullshit if you’re into that. But generally – so let’s just keep it to Aussies to make it simple – we tend to use the “major” global payment processors.

            All of those have very marginal transaction fees. So you’re giving maybe $30 to Publisher X for a game. Steam might take 30% of that.

            But the bit that people miss is the haircut that these payment processors take in between the user, Steam and the publisher/developer.

            For something like a credit card, you’re looking at less than 1%. Maybe a bit higher if there’s a foreign currency exchange involved.

            Now in China and the vast majority of Asia/SEA? People don’t use a normal CC or PayPal to pay at checkout. They’re using different methods, which we’ll call “non-standard”.

            In a GDC talk – this year I think – Steam revealed that these “non-standard” payment processors make up the vast majority of transactions done on the platform. We’re talking over 90%. A shot of the slide is floating out there on Twitter, but I haven’t got it on me right now.

            Put simply, platforms like Epic, Steam etc. NEED to play ball with these other processors if they want to actually sell games in those regions.

            And the cut those processors take is genuinely fucked. Instead of maybe shaving 0.5%, 1% or 1.5% off the cut an Epic/Steam would make, it’s closer to 10-15%. One processor I saw quoted charged 25%. And because they’re the ones handling the transaction, they take that cut before it goes to the marketplace, so that’s coming straight out of their profit.

            Hopefully that outlines the problem a bit more.

          • @alexwalker I can’t reply to your post below for some reason, but it sounds genuinely fascinating. Perhaps that would be a good topic for an article sometime?

            Also, can you 100% confirm that a publisher can log into the back end of Steam and Epic, and set different list prices for both?

            In which case, people are still directing their hatred at the wrong entity. Epic would be giving publishers the opportunity to pass on cheaper prices to consumers – but instead the publishers are keeping the increased profit for themselves.

    • Depends. If you sell 1,000,000 copies at $100, and pay 30%, you end up with $70,000,000 from Steam. if you sell 500,000 copies at $100, and pay 12%, you end up with $44,000,000. Might seem fair until you realise the decision has cost you far more than what you saved.

      Then the other parts of Epic’s arrangement, the exclusivity part, is unfair in how its limiting your potential customer base. Exclusivity is unfair by default.

      Epic might get there at some point, but it most certainly isn’t there yet.

      • Also, Steam’s cut is only 20% at the level in your example since it introduced pricing tiers, so in this example they’d only need to sell 10% more on Steam than on Epic to come out ahead, which it’s probably safe to say is guaranteed.

        • Yeah, that too. I think that’s a Steam reaction to this though, isn’t it? I thought they brought that in only recently, but could be wrong. Still, its something more.

          I think I’ve been pretty clear what I’ve thought of Epic so far, so don’t really need to go over it all again. There are potential benefits, like their experience getting cross play up and running, but they’re yet to be realised. It may actually be nothing.

          Outside of that everything I’ve seen has been for their benefit in my opinion, no-one elses. And where there is some perceived benefit, its been greed based for the developer. End result, theres no reason for us as consumers to support them. Made worse by there being an option right in front of them that would reverse all that.

          • It was in response to Epic, yeah. But still, it makes the supposed advantage of the Epic store that much smaller. 8% hardly seems worth losing customers and goodwill over for a AAA title that will sell enough to get the 20% cut.

      • The funny thing as well is that during steam sales publishers and devs actually made more money despite the lower prices.

        • Old economic theory. Getting the price right. Do you want to sell 40 items at $100, or 100 items at $50? Even more important once the key launch window is closed, and you’re just getting any sales you can just to add gravy.

          Epic claims to have as many users as Steam. It does, but its a little misleading. It in no way accounts for how many unique users are just there for Fortnite, or like me and just hoovering up the free games. Neither of which are necessarily spending money.

    • Depends if you want your users to still be able to play when a Fortnite update happens I guess.

    • It’s an even better deal if you chose to use Unreal Engine for your game: normally that would represent a 5% royalty on each of your sales. Epic waives that for sales made through their store.

  • I think it’s a strange take to say Steam has shaped consumers’ views on fairness. It doesn’t take much memory to know that Steam has gone through growing pains and controversies, and they’ve adapted to consumer feedback (for the most part) rather than the other way around. They’ve been slow, reticent at times, but they’ve generally come around. Steam didn’t shape our view of fairness, we shaped it, over 16 years of feedback and criticism and pressure.

    I’m also really not a fan of how much Grayson seems to want to forgive what are clearly shady business practices under some bizarre notion that “competition isn’t fair”. Competition should be fair, and we shouldn’t be giving free passes to companies that try to circumvent that fairness.

    Buying exclusivity on third party titles is not competition, it’s using money to explicitly prevent competition. Origin never did this, nor Uplay, nor Discord, nor GOG, nor Steam. None of the stores competing with Steam needed to bribe exclusivity to compete, and Epic doesn’t either. That they’re choosing to isn’t out of necessity, it’s out of lacking anything of substance to offer consumers, itself born from a rush to market long before their product was ready. That kind of behaviour absolutely should not be excused under the false pretence of ‘necessary to compete’.

    • Agree, though I’d point out Steam enjoys a kind of defacto exclusivity for a lot of titles because it operates as a vehicle for DRM as well – though it’s saved by the fact you can usually buy keys elsewhere to activate on Steam, bypassing the awful shop front and ridiculous pricing. It’s a great anchor for people to get stuck in the Steam ecosystem and never want to leave it – which is why any alternative not only has to meet Steam, but exceed it in some way.

      Epic have just taken the arse-backwards way of pandering to developers instead of end users.

      • It should also be noted that Valve makes no money from key sales (all keys are generated for free).

        • It’s still used as an anchor to keep people in the ecosystem, the idea being they’ll keep you tied to the platform and hopefully buy through their store front.

    • It is competition…
      If we both opened fruit stores but I decided to buy exclusive rights to apples, would you really say I wasn’t competing with you anymore? Even if we sell different fruit, we’re still competing for sales in the fruit market.

      As to why Epic ‘needs’ to do this while other competitors never did:
      Origin and UPlay don’t even sell third-party titles (also Origin did in fact pull exclusivity of their titles back around the ME3 release) and people still go berserk about even those games not being on Steam.
      Discord (correct me if I’m wrong here, up-to-date info is tough to find, I guess that shows the general interest level in the store) is still only in beta and requires a paid subscription.
      Finally GOG is struggling financially so they’re not exactly a great example of competition either…

      Basically, no, Epic doesn’t ‘need’ exclusive contracts but without something like that to steal some customers from Steam, they’d struggle and die the same way the rest of the competition is.

      • It’s not competition. If we both had fruit stores but you bought exclusive rights to apples, you’d be charged with exclusive dealing since you’ve substantially reduced competition. You’re not ‘competing’ on apples because there’s nobody else selling them.

        Other stores compete by offering things Steam doesn’t. GOG offered the price guarantee and continues to offer DRM-free software. Discord and Humble offer subscription-based services with the latter including free games in the sub and the former offering in-game perks. Origin does sell third party titles including the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series (Ubisoft), Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix), Darksiders (THQ Nordic), Banner Saga (Stoic), Tropico (Kalypso) and more. The problem here is third party exclusivity, not first party, so EA selling their own titles exclusively through their own store isn’t the issue at hand.

        GOG’s particular model of distinction – DRM-free games – is only less successful because a lot of AAA publishers don’t like the idea of offering their games without DRM. But the principle of how they’re competing with Steam is very much a success, as are the distinguishing elements of the other stores competing with Steam.

        • this is the worst take and it’s wild that you care so much. Also, separately, exclusive dealing 100% isn’t a crime and 1000% doesn’t apply in this situation. This is so wild.

          • The Competition and Consumer Act 2010, section 47, defines the unlawful act of exclusive dealing, which is as I described. 47(4) defines one of the forms of exclusive dealing as when a company acquires goods or services from a supplier on the condition that the supplier does not supply the same to one or more other companies/people. It definitely can be against the law, and it’s definitely applicable to both the Epic situation and the fruit store analogy.

          • As the ACCC lawsuit with Valve proved that foreign companies that do business in Australia are subject to Australian consumer laws. The laws Valve were found to have violated were from the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the same act I described above.

            You can downvote if you like, but it doesn’t change that you’re mistaken. I’m just explaining this to help you understand what the law says and why it applies.

          • It’s just the whole “high and mighty, Epic Games are bullying the little guy Valve” attitude really grinds my gears and you are totally dripping with it. Please stop putting that into the world, it’s not productive or good for anyone.

          • @roberotful I’ve said nothing of the kind, you seem to be projecting that from your own mind. I’ve never said Valve is “the little guy”, and I’ve never said Epic is bullying Valve, nor do I believe either of those things are true. Most of what I’ve said is from the perspective of the consumer. This tactic is anti-competitive and bad for the consumer. Oligopolies are bad for the consumer. This type of commerce war only benefits the winning trader: everyone else, including us, are the losers.

            The comments I’ve made about the legality have been in response to faulty claims that eliminating competition is somehow competition itself. It isn’t, and the law supports the fact it isn’t. It’s a general statement of what is considered anti-competitive, and how it applies to this particular case. My comments on this have always been framed as “Epic is acting badly” and “Valve does not do this”. To get “poor little Valve” from that is beyond me, and certainly beyond what I’ve said.

          • @roberotful They said that about the people fighting for net neutrality, and now we have American cable/internet conglomerates like Comcast and Verizon throttling third party streaming services (eg. Netflix) to make the experience unpleasant enough to push people to their own pay TV services instead.

            If we don’t stand up for what we want and need, unscrupulous companies will have no problem taking them from us to pad their own bank account. You might be okay with letting that happen, but I’m not.

  • Wasn’t gonna buy it in the first place, not because of the epic store being a pile of poop (I already have it installed for UT afterall), but because 2K haven’t released anything worth giving a shit about in a long time and I am sort of skeptical as to whether they have what it takes any more.

  • The author doesn’t seem to understand the problem with the exclusivity side of it. Epic is not “competing”, it is removing competition altogether by being the sole provider of game and as such has complete control over pricing and availability. It’s borderline antitrust behaviour. EA didn’t get as much outcry because the games that it made exclusive to its store were games that EA itself owned and not games made by third parties. No one is complaining that Valve games aren’t on GOG, Origin or the Windows store.

    Epic is also forcing the exclusivity deals, not giving devs the option of an exclusivity deal. It’s something they’ve said they’ll do eventually but for now Epic is locking them in so they get the lion’s share of initial sales.

    We’re also not seeing any change in price. A 12% revenue share gives pretty significant leeway for discounts at higher price points without hitting the same amount you’d get on Valve’s 30%. No one is doing this though, reinforcing the notion that this is all about greed on both the developer’s part and Epic’s.

    It’s also having a negative impact on other storefronts as they lower their revenue shares to compete. The example I always use is GOG who have had to let staff go and also cancel their Fair Price scheme because they don’t get as much from each sale now. Epic has Fortnite microtransactions and Unreal engine licenses to subsidise the costs so they can afford to get less per sale and still keep the servers running.

    The funny thing is though, I was reading an article and it explains that Valve doesn’t actually get 30% of every sale. There are a number of instances where Valve gets less, if anything at all making it an even murkier issue.

    • I wish more people understood the effect Epic’s strategy is having on smaller storefronts. If GOG goes under at this point, it’ll be because of Epic.

      • GOG was suffering long before Epic even announced their store… If they go under it’ll be because their only selling point is being DRM-free in an age when the majority of PC gamers have already decided they prefer Steam over that :/

        I’d go as far to say Epic will have almost no effect on GOG as 99% of the people who buy from there would likely have gone through Steam otherwise, not GOG.

        • I’ll take that bet. Considering what GOG staff have said in anonymous comments to media about this, Epic’s approach is definitely the catalyst for the most recent round of layoffs.

          • I’m hardly shocked that staff are angry about new competition but that hardly proves GOG’s situation is a result of the Epic store.
            On the contrary, those latest layoffs you mentioned were late February, less than a month after the Metro exclusive deal was announced and well before any of the other Epic Deals.

            Further to that, GOG staff said the company started that restucture in October 2018 (two months before the Epic store even opened) due to months of financial struggles.

            Here’s one source that took all of 2 seconds to find…

          • The article says that GOG’s growth hasn’t kept up with revenue, which basically means they’ve hired bloat. Restructuring is how you get rid of bloat, and that’s consistent with GOG’s statement that while they let go of some jobs, they hired twice as many new ones.

            The telling part is in the source’s comments, that the financial situation “got really desperate really fast” and specifically cited February as a bad month, while January was excellent. That’s much more recent than October and is well after the Epic store’s release. By the end of January Epic had already bought Metro Exodus, Hades, Ashen, Super Meat Boy Forever, Satisfactory, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, Genesis Alpha One and I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Many of those titles would have been excellent candidates for the GOG store.

            The news that these titles are exclusive to one storefront is pretty bad for GOG, especially since there’s no indication Epic would stop there. This requires a downgrade in their forecast revenue, and preemptive scaling of resources is generally how companies address an anticipated future downturn. It’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that the scale of the layoffs at GOG has been driven by the February downturn and downgraded forecasting caused by Epic’s exclusivity purchases, and that’s consistent with the source calling out “the market’s move towards higher revenue shares”.

    • Exclusivity happens all the time in the commercial world. When we sell houses we often sign up to an exclusive agency agreement. TV stations will buy exclusive rights to sports tournaments or third-party content. Many shops have exclusive import or distribution rights for physical items. These are all deals that revolve around money.

      The reason that many people are upset is purely because they have become comfortable with Steam’s system and are scared that Epic will disrupt it and cause change to occur. Fear of the unknown. Fear of Steam somehow crumbling and taking with it all the user’s games on the platform.

      When it comes down to it, buying (licencing) a game from Epic will be no different from buying (licencing) a game from Steam.

      • All of the examples you gave of exclusivity are things consumers have been railing against for years, though. Nobody wants TV show exclusivity, nobody wants a brand of clothes or electronics to be sold through just one store. The enormous amount of piracy for Game of Thrones in Australia was pretty much universally blamed on Foxtel’s exclusivity deal.

        It’s really not about getting comfortable with what Steam offered, it’s about there finally being a market where we were able to shape it to what we wanted. Exclusivity is bullshit no matter who does it, no matter the industry. Just because companies get away with it more readily in other industries doesn’t mean it’s acceptable or that it should get a free pass in this one.

        • The only reason people complain about TV exclusivity so much is because services like Foxtel and Netflix are subscription based. If they were all free almost no one would care: as evidence, see the lack of anyone caring when the Aus Open Tennis moved from 7 exclusive to a 9 exclusive. The only time people get upset is when something leaves free-to-air for a paid service (i.e. Football and motorsports).

          In the case of Steam vs Epic, both options are freely available to everyone, the only reason people care is (as Zambayoshi mentioned) because they are comfortable with Steam.

          • You’re comparing apples and oranges. The tennis is free, and it changing between two otherwise identical free providers is effectively meaningless. Video games are not free, and them changing between two substantially different services matters significantly.

            The two are incomparable. The latter includes numerous factors the former doesn’t, like the feature sets and security practices of the respective stores, the handling of personal information and the customer’s choice of who they do commercial business with.

            The better comparison in television terms would be a show either exclusive to Foxtel Go, or available on Foxtel Go and Netflix and Amazon and Stan. The latter is absolutely what people want, and people absolutely do complain when a show is locked down to a service they don’t or won’t use.

      • I’m not saying exclusivity in and of itself is wrong. I’m saying that Epic is starting to tuck a lot of games, especially newer titles, under its belt as exclusives and doesn’t show any signs of letting up. It’s the magnitude that’s the issue and when you have one entity gaining exclusive rights to a notable percentage of a market that’s when people start to look at it negatively.

        If it doesn’t matter where the license comes from then why the need for exclusivity? Why do I need to pay Epic’s prices and use Epic’s services when I could instead have the choice of buying DRM free from GOG or itch.io? Or buy from Steam and use their services and social platform? What if I want the Discord integration from the Discord store or maybe I want something with Twitch integration? Maybe I want the cheapest option from a key reseller regardless of the platform?

        Right now I don’t have any choice whereas before I did, even if most of the time it led back to Steam.

        • Hell, I’d be a lot more comfortable with Epic’s exclusivity deals if they allowed third-party key sales so the consumer could at least see some competition on price. The fact that once a game releases, you buy it from Epic on their terms at their price, or you don’t buy it at all, rubs me the wrong way. There’s no consumer choice there at all.

    • Said Author has a pretty blatant history of being anti-Steam. Just about every Steam related site on the article (at least in recent years) is by him or Ethan Gach, and I don’t remember any of his being positive. It is of my opinion that he has an axe to grind, but I can’t figure out why.

    • Epic is also forcing the exclusivity deals, not giving devs the option of an exclusivity deal.

      Source? I’m honestly curious how you think a publisher the size of 2K can be “forced” to do anything.

  • Well this is probably one of the more condescending takes I’ve seen on the subject, yet. Way to dismiss concerns you don’t share, and minimize what you can’t get away with ignoring.

    At the very least, change the title to something more honest: “Why I personally think you people are making too big a deal about this.”

    • Really, a more honest title would actually be “I have an axe to grind against Steam, watch me go!”

      The author has a well documented history of being anti-Steam/Valve.

  • Lack of regional local currency pricing, that its a return of “Australia tax” its cheaper to buy Bordelands 3 from JBHIFI… and by cheaper its actualky cheaper for americans to buy it from JB.

    Lack of keys, which actually cuts conpetition because GMG cant offer better prices which was my goto for Australia Tax issues we had on Steam for years.

    The exclusives also throw off the market cause we dont kbow if developers are genuinely picking Epic… when they are getting a secret undisclosed kick back to do so. Epic isnt winning against Steam, its bribing its way.

    Genuinely I would like to see sales figures for a gane on both platforms and consumer surveys on why they chose one pkatform over the other… cause i bought the new subnautica on steam.

  • Oh boy, I can’t wait to install another intrusive game client for the one or two games by this publisher I might actually play!

    Said no one ever.

  • Since we are going to beat a dead horse, I refuse to support a company that says one thing to publishers, and another thing to its users, effectively lying to one or the other.

    Digital storefronts for me are about trust, trust that I can access my game in years to come. Steam’s proven that by being the market pioneer and still going after 15 years. GOG does it by just giving you the game you paid for. Epic kicks you out of your game because its always on DRM can’t cope when Fortnite gets an update. Sure, that’ll probably get better, but combined with the lying, it doesn’t bode well.

    Trust, its what Valve and GOG have, and what Epic doesn’t. And its practices straight out of the gate have hurt that further.

    • I bought a few things on Greenhouse, and those are gone, now. Everything I ever bought on Impulse can APPARENTLY be accessed on Direct2Drive, but hell if I can access my login details. I only ever paid for a couple things on Desura, and now that that’s shut down, my only chance to access them is when some rogue ex-employee sneaks into the server room and switches it all back on for as many hours as they think they can get away with.

      Trust matters.

      • One of several reasons that I prefer physical media. If Sony went under I could lose half my game library though, so I can understand why people are scared that Steam has a serious competitor.

        • thing is EGS isnt a serious competitor, its not even a competitor to gog, origin or uplay. i mean for crying out loud the EGS doesnt even have a fucking shopping cart. All EGS is doing at the moment is just bribe their way into the market.

          Even when it comes to the so called 12% vs 30% issues, unless you are a fully independent studio with not ties to any publisher, getting 12 vs 30 doesnt matter because that profit goes straight to the publisher and you wont see a cent of it as you had already been paid for your work

          • Bribing its way into the market, as you put it, makes it serious in my mind. Why money-hat exclusives on a lark?

          • they can only bribe for so long as fortnight stays popular enough. remember the moment something else comes around, fortnight will loose a massive amount of players and whales and its already started with Apex. And if that happens within the next year, then abiltiy to bribe publishers goes down the drain.

            Remember even in the development roadmap for the EGS, a shooping cart is still at least 6months away from being added.

        • Enh. Steam’s not going anywhere. Epic’s success is banking on Fortnite money, which PUBG (amongst others) has shown can be fleeting. The platform I’m banking on failing within the next ten years is not Steam.

          This makes Epic’s exclusives just feel pointless to me, which means I have a frustrating wait period before getting access to those titles on the better platform. I’m not investing in Epic’s bullshit for the apparently noble purpose of propping them up.

          Especially given the absence of what I now consider mandatory quality-of-life features, and Epic’s very clear decision to side with devs where there’s any conflict of interest between devs and consumers, where I believe the priority should always, always, always be consumers. That’s probably my main ’emotional’ complaint about Epic that doesn’t have to do with the real frustrating of further fragmenting my library or their shithouse platform.

          Not to mention Epic has shown zero interest in solving ‘the discoverability problem’. They’re calling it ‘curation’ at the moment, but we’ve seen time and time again how that pans out.

          Too many devs are married to the outdated way of thinking: captive market plus limited selection = high discoverability. That’s unsustainable. Their voice always shrinks as the catalogues grow and they go looking for the next best place to be a big fish in a small pond.

          But Valve’s the only one bothering to tackle the problem in a smarter way – matching the right games with the right players. They haven’t perfected it, but they’ve made great strides in what is the only truly effective way to improve discoverability. The big fish/small pond solution never works for long; it won’t work for those who aren’t first to the new ponds, and the more ponds there are, the less effective it becomes.

  • Aside from the fact that epic has never tried to give it’s customers a proper store or library. If a developer really cared about the % charged by steam VS epic they would offer on both platforms with varying price as many have done in the past.
    The fact it is exclusive to Epic despite customer pre-orders only proves that Epic is willing to be dirty and waste all there money paying for games people are now going to refuse to buy.
    Don’t forget Epic, the customer is always right.

  • The thing I find dodgy that doesn’t seem to get mentioned often are games basically using Steam to advertise and post news about the games but then a couple of weeks before launch announcing a game as Epic exclusive (but not taking down the Steam page just disabling purchase option). Seems like a case of wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

  • Because people like to pick and choose when they want to exist in a capitalist society and get awfully wound up about things that in the grand scheme don’t matter shit.

  • Game journos: “Games should have easy modes! We want choice!”

    Also game journos: “why are you so mad about epic exclusives, its just another lanucher, get over it, You’re entitled for wanting your games on steam.”

    • Hot damn @djbear I’ve been finding myself agreeing with you a lot recently.

  • I’m worried about the further implications of Epic exclusives and the pressure applied to smaller actors, like GoG, have for anyone who doesn’t use windows.

    I was once very keen for windows 10. On paper it looked like a great technological leap forward. In practice I feel it’s been one badly written and poorly managed update after another, with the complete lack of control or choice for the end user being the ultimate in disrespect. Microsoft doesn’t have my trust anymore.

    I’ve been running Linux exclusively for over a year now and having platforms like Steam and GoG consider the existence of people like myself has made gaming on Linux enjoyable.

    Having Epic come along and try to take away the choice to game without windows one game at a time is something I view as dangerous and immensely insulting.

  • I am not mad at it but it definitely missing some near essential features. I really need those cloud saves.

    I am definitely salty about the ridiculous price of Control on the Australian store. Why is it $72 US? Where has that extra $12 come from?

  • Epic’s exclusivity doesn’t hurt Steam, so much as it hurts every other retailer that isn’t Steam. It’s a dick move to the little guys just to stick it to the big guy. That’s mainly my personal distaste with the whole thing.
    That and I’m not quite convinced that the spyware claims are entirely false, but I don’t launch the app anyway. Fortnite didn’t grab me.

  • On the whole it doesn’t really affect me – my pile of shame is so large (thanks largely to Steam and Humble) that most games I buy/play are at least 12 months old anyway. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    As others have stated, and the author seems to have missed entirely, I would have no issue with Epic having exclusives of the titles that they have developed. In the beginning I was pissed that Origin came along and I couldn’t keep all my Mass Effect games on one platform. Same for Ubi and their platform. But I eventually got over it…and understood why a publisher might want to keep all the money to themselves. (It sucks – but I understand).

    But Epic are “buying” exclusivity on titles that they don’t own and as a consumer I see no value in their proposition; they are not cheaper and they are not providing additional services. Epic are simply flexing their corporate muscle in an obvious and aggressive manner; which doesn’t engender confidence that their future actions are going to be any different.

    This is why we are unhappy. It is not because we are rabid Steam fanboys, it is because we dislike the way this is heading.

    • It’s been 2 months? You will get over your rage just like you a with origin and Uplay. Just have to give it time. Be interesting to get this article reposted in 12 months and see if all the emotion is still there.

  • The way Steam operates has been bad for a long time. The way Epic operates is bad.

    They’re both bad.

    How can people who play games be better? Buy directly from the developer when they can. Be less shit.

  • The hilarious part about all these stores is that, at any time, Microsoft could just snap its fingers, say “Everyone has to use the Windows app store now” and watch as they all turn to ash.

    • I’d wager Microsoft’s headquarters might be literal piles of ash not too long after they did that.

  • Steam used to be this bastion of good games. New releases didn’t pop up often but when they did they warranted a look. Even if maybe they weren’t from your preferred genre or your favourite studio. Now it’s 99% shovelware.

    Steam’s never really had to compete. That’s why it took the ACCC to get a decent refund policy enforced. That’s why we spent almost 2 decades with our regional pricing in a foreign currency.

    Steam isn’t good in the same way Windows isn’t good. It’s just what we’re used to. Familiarity and fear of change and all that jazz. It’s not unusual for people to make something out of nothing. Remember when Blizzard wanted to just change the name of its launcher app?

    The Epic store is just as good/bad as Steam and every other storefront. Although now that I know I’ve been missing out on free games every fortnight I’m gonna have to login to Epic store more often.

    • ? This used to be the case, but Steam’s algorithms have elimated this.

      My home page right now is Dirt Rally 2, Sunless Skies, Risk of Rain 2, Planet Coaster, Battlefleet Gothic Armada II, Moonlighter, Sniper Elite V2 Remasted, Devil May Crt V, Sekiro, Factorio and Tropico.

      • That’s my point, no one needs help to find big name games. Half of my homepage is the same as yours. The problem is finding those games that don’t get coverage or curated to your homepage. 300+ games have released since the start of the month and the 10 or so homepage games range from 2 months to 2 years old.

        It’s like Valve doesn’t even have to play the game any more. They didn’t bother to match or beat the exclusivity deals. They don’t bother to match or beat the revenue split.

        The more I read about the Epic Store the more I fail to understand why people are upset.

        • So your argument is you don’t want those games there so what little remains you can see?

          I’m going to be very rude for a sec, but heard of a search and filter? I would always prefer the choice amongst many than being railroaded to the few, and in your example, what you see on your homepage, is the only thing you would see.

          • Yes I have. There’s no real elegant solution for sorting through 11000 games a year. You either devote manpower to a certification process, or you just let all of the crap in.

            Epic store is basically Steam in the pre-greenlight era.

  • I think it’s hilarious that people seem to be forgetting that Steam originally was the ONLY way to play Half Life 2. But Epic comes along and now it’s the ONLY way to play the latest Metro on PC for a limited time, and everybody loses their shit.

    I mean, Steam is not a monopoly the same way as Microsoft in the 90’s was not a monopoly. Epic have lit a fire under Valve’s arse, which is an excellent thing and long overdue.

    I imagine we will end up seeing Valve adjusting their cut to be more or less equal to Epic, Epic will gradually gain feature parity with Valve, and we will see most games launch on both platforms with the occasional paid exclusive. Just like Playstation and Xbox, except you only need to download a launcher, not buy a whole bloody console.

    • This argument has been done countlessly before. People are generally okay with a vendor launching into their own store.

      What people are against is paid exclusivity of titles for your store. Its an important distinction, and one that highlights that people want competition on features and price if you aren’t maintaining your own launcher or storefront.

      • What people are against is the only thing that could possibly pose a threat to Valve’s effective monopoly. That’s the reality, plain and simple, because the large majority of people will go with the status quo.

        • Thats a dumb argument, especially since no other competitor provides anywhere close to Valve’s complete ecosystem (with maybe the exception of GoG, except they are hamstrung by their very own DRM policy).

    • If you can see the difference between steam launching its OWN game on its service and another service poaching games it did not make from other services you are beyond help and like the author you simply have an axe to grind.

    • and… epic launched with Fortnight. The difference is Steam never bought developers and told them you can only sell on my store for insert period of time. The difference is huge. Steam has its problems but exclusives themselves are the problem. If a studio makes a game and puts it on their own service sure it sucks, but the argument is paying others and forcing people to use a store that they may not want or trust in order to get people onto that store.

      TBH i doubt Steam gives a hoot about Epic, rather the are a lot of users who have seen what epic has done and gone well since they are screwing me over then i am just against them now. Epic created a problem for themselves by buying games. People have long memories and unless Epic can gain peoples trust they will not succeed past fortnight.

      Personally i don’t want or need another launcher. I want to be able to install games and play them without launchers, they take system resources, force-ably update games and just annoy me. Give me back the days where i didn’t have to log into steam(or any other online store), have an active internet connect, be constantly up to date, remember different passwords and have 2fa for everything under the sun.

  • Fuck this huge argument on weather Epic is competing with Steam or not who cares thats not whats important here. Whats important is the simple fact that Epic are getting game exclusives and forcing people to use their platform because there are no other options. This is a practice I refuse to support and if you feel the same way then don’t buy into their service.

    • Epic are getting game exclusives and forcing people to use their platform because there are no other optionsThey are not forcing people to buy the games, this isn’t an essential good.
      If you want Borderland 3 you buy it on the Epic store and install their launcher. If you don’t want to install the launcher don’t buy the game.
      As you say the other option is don’t use the service, it will make a tiny difference to your life.

  • Why the rage train? It’s a waste of time and energy which will gain you nothing.

    No one rants and raves about Halo or Pokemon exclusivity and they require the cost of a whole new console.
    “It’s unfair that Pokemon is only on the Switch!!! Clearly Nintendo is selling data to the Chinese! Conspiracy!”

    If this is the new form of fandom, it’s toxic and I want no part of it.

    Intentional or not, Steam labeling it as “unfair” fueled this toxic rage train. As a steam user with over 10yrs on the platform, I’ve very disappointed in Valve’s approach to this.

    I expected better.

    • The only comment from steam I have seen labelled as unfair was with metro and would support them on that. Having it setup on steam, pre-orders being sold, Valve advertising the game in anticipation of launch and then yanking it was dodgy.

      I haven’t seen them come out and say borderlands 3 exclusivity is unfair, they were just never offered it.

      • I think that one was because Exodus was literally on Steam, being sold and advertised through Steam before it got pulled days before release.

  • I think what’s really pissing people off is the betrayal of hopes.

    People WANTED a service to provide a serious viable competitive alternative to Steam. Epic could have, and SHOULD have, been that alternative. But instead of trying to actually be competitive with Steam (not actually that difficult because let’s be honest, Steam is pretty crap), their store is just absolute garbage. They have a friggin’ roadmap to add BASIC FEATURES several MONTHS from now! So their “competing product” is just flat-out worse for consumers than Steam in every way.

    But with no way to actually APPEAL to gamers, Epic have instead used their money to EXTORT them instead. That’s what buying the exclusives is: extortion. “Come and use our shitty store, or wait up to a year to play the latest exciting games! Your choice. No, you don’t get another, suck it up.” And they don’t even seem to be ashamed about it, basically telling gamers “It’s my way or the highway.” As much as we say we’d prefer it if companies could drop the corporate doublespeak bullshit and just admit how much they’re screwing us to feed their greed, it’s not actually that pleasant when they do it.

    Basically, rather that making the gamin industry better by providing a solid competitor that forces Valve to finally get off their complacent arse and pull their socks up to remain competitive, they’re just making the industry WORSE by throwing their Fortnite money at it and gamers are getting bent over a barrel. It’s no surprise gamers are pissed. I can almost hear Obi-Wan screaming “You were supposed to SAVE the gaming industry, not DESTROY it!”

    • Steam was absolutely a steaming pile of shit when it launched. And for many years afterwards.

      Epic had an unexpected opportunity to compete when Fortnight took off (and nobody saw that coming), and are taking advantage. NOBODY can compete against Steam without new release exclusives and a practically unlimited budget. There is absolutely no way in hell, Steam is too entrenched.

      And if you want to complain about Epic doublespeak bullshit, how is it extortion to install a new launcher? It’s an inconvenience at worst.

  • This didn’t cover my main concern at all.

    Exclusivity does not result in competitive pricing.

    There are very few games I buy on release, and most of those I manage to get a discount on from a third party seller, discounts (UPlay points for example) or going down to JB to see what sales they have. But only having a game on one storefront with only digital sales directly through them and no one else, you are faced with the predicament of fixed pricing because you have no other choices. That there is anti-consumer and anti-competitive. At least with exclusives in UPlay and Origin you have other means of getting cheaper copies , but with Epic it remains to be seen whether that will ever happen. Will they have more sale periods then steam? How long will a game stay at full price? Would the publishers even consider passing one a fraction of the profits giving you a lower price? Currently, your options effectively become 1. wait for sale, 2. wait for exclusivity to end in 6 months to a year, 3. bite the bullet and pay full price, or 4. not buy the game at all. Personally, I am voting with my wallet.

    This article has done a fine job of covering the silly reasons why people are unhappy, or trivialising them, but seems to have swept some of the main issues under the rug, classifying them as ‘unimportant.’ That really is poor reporting right there.

    • Everything you complain about in your comment applies to Steam, so it’s not really a point against Epic.

      • None of them apply to Steam. Every product on Steam can be sold through any number of storefronts by means of key generation, which Steam offers for free. Those third party stores compete and put downward pressure on price, and there’s no fixed pricing concern because consumers have more than one vendor they can purchase from.

        None of that competition exists with Epic’s third party exclusives, where Epic is the sole exclusive vendor. Nobody else can sell the same product so there’s no downward pressure on price and there’s no incentive for them to offer discounts or sales, because customers can’t choose to go elsewhere like they can with Steam.

  • Anyone remember when the same argument was had PC game vs Xbox game?

    Or how about when you could only buy certain games in certain stores? EB exclusive, only able to buy Diablo in Eb games?

    or further back, PC game vs Console game.. when you could only get Mario on Nintendo, and not on an IBM?

    Or lets go back further, when you could only buy certain console games in Japan or America, not for sale in Oz..

    • I remember them, they all sucked. The reason they’re mostly not around any more is because we fought against each of them until they were changed. Xbox games almost always release multi-platform now; retailer-exclusive titles were replaced with retailer-exclusive preorder bonuses which were also unpopular and are on the way out; the Mario franchise is on dozens of platforms now including PC, Android and iOS; and an ever-dwindling number of titles are region-exclusive any more.

  • Epic Games customer service is garbage and their account and website security is trash as well. No MFA, no support for hijacked accounts, no validation of funds being added\spent. I’d wager their passwords are stored without salts and it’s only a matter of time before there is a significant breach that contains detailed amounts of personal information (Epic would never disclose this based on how p*ss-poor their handling of everything security related is). I’m all for competition but Epic is not the answer you are looking for.

  • Literally everyone who plays a video game and also has an opinion is bad including me, and that’s why this argument has happened. It’s a real dumb one.

  • Not even worried about timed exclusives, ill wait for steam release.
    If its exclusive period because they threw a few hundred mil at a developer to do so then oh well, eye patch at the ready.

    The way they are going about business is screwing the consumer and backing them into a corner with a no option mindset.

    And as i understand it its the publishers doing it, many devs ahave already spoken out about not wanting exclusivity deals because in some cases it was the players that paid for their game to be made in the first place.

  • I havent read every single comment here but people comparing this to the olympics or sporting events saying its like paying to buy all the slots in an event is utterly ridiculous , Competition in sports and in business is like comparing apples to oranges. what these people do not realize is that the competition happens even before the games are released.

    Valve and their Steam platform has the opportunity to fight back by opening their wallet and biding against Epic for the exclusive rights to games by other developers but to this point has either not been successful , or not attempted to do so

    I dont see how people can say this is unfair . It would be unfair if Epic prevented developers from even talking to Valve , but they are not . They have simply offered developers more money to make their games Epic exclusives . Do you guys really think the developers do not contact Valve and say ” Hey , Epic is offering us X amount to make our game exclusive to their platform , are you willing to offer us more ? ” … If not then the developers are not doing their job seeling their game and making the maximum out of an asset .

    In short , Valve is not being competed with unfairly , it may seem that way , but the competition actually occurs even before the games are released on a platform , not once they are out on them

  • I honestly don’t even care anymore. Torrenting and cracking metro was at an all time high. Sales were lower than expected.. Gee I wonder why.
    Epic are taking aggressive tactics but like their development tools it will prove to be futile when competitors introduce features epic are struggling to add. Just like steam and so many of these big publishers they seem to forget that innovative features are what you want.

    I hope epic sink or swim and I pray this process is accelerated upwards or downwards. I hate companies that linger by making stupid business decisions that insult both players and devs. I don’t know who the managers and investors of epic are but If I was king of the world I would round them all up and have witch hunters interrogate those fucking pricks. Crunch time normal in a high stress environment? Not paying staff for over time? Not telling staff how upset you are with them until a review? letting go of staff if they suggest ideas you don’t like? In some ways epic is more toxic than the players of games… So I don’t mind players are giving them hate. They deserve it TBH. “they take 12% appose to steams 30%” yeah well steam didn’t take any cut from devs using their open source valve engine. Epic however takes a significant cut and than to add salt to the wound gives insulting salaries to their devs.

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