Epic’s Founder Explains Why The Company Is Going So Hard On Exclusives

Epic’s Founder Explains Why The Company Is Going So Hard On Exclusives

There are a lot of PC gamers, accustomed to buying and playing their games on Steam, who are not exactly happy at the way Epic’s new store has come in and started buying up exclusives.

In response to this, Epic founder Tim Sweeney has outlined in a lengthy Twitter thread exactly why his company is scooping games up, instead of just offering them for sale alongside every other store.

After initially tweeting earlier this month (above) praising GOG Galaxy, GOG’s attempt to build a launcher that worked across all major digital shopfronts on PC, Sweeney was met with a number of questions from fans, most of them wondering why he was so supportive of a rival store’s efforts.

In a direct reply to a user who had tagged him, Sweeney begins with:


Before settling into a more detailed explanation:

In short, he’s basically saying yeah, this is causing problems for some gamers, but the issue Epic is trying to solve is worth the hardship. Most interesting is what he says that issue is: it’s not necessarily for their own store to make money and become more powerful, but for Epic’s pricing model — which gives far more money to developers and publishers than Valve’s current split—to be implemented across the market, whether it’s driven by their own success or by rivals adopting a similar model.

That might seem potentially counter-productive; why would it not really matter if your own store survived or not? Then you remember that Epic sells engines as well, and that if Sweeney’s stated goal of seeing a rise in games development investment is achieved, then there’s going to be an increase in the licensing of the Unreal Engine along with it.

Whether you believe him or not is up to you, of course. The popular explanation for Epic’s exclusive-nabbing policy so far has been “exclusives = more users of our store = more money”, and it’s popular because that’s pretty basic (and believable) economics.

But if there’s one thing I hope we can all agree on here, it’s that it’d be great to see more powerful video game executives providing long and detailed explanations of company policies not in a conference call or powerpoint presentation, but to some rando on Twitter.


  • It’s not hard to figure out. Without exclusives, there’s absolutely no reason to use their shit service over Steam. Multiple security issues, missing multiple features, and awful customer service. If not for exclusives, free games, and Fortnite, nobody would use their crap platform.

  • Everything he said makes sense. It’s too complicated a strategy and too long a timeline for this to be a smokescreen for their “true” intentions. And if anyone is arguing “Epic just wants to make more money”, yeah, no shit. They are a company, that’s what the best ones do. It doesn’t mean they can’t have a vision that’s separate from profit as well though.

    • Except the problem where ALL the other store fronts are offering exclusives as well just first party ones.
      For his strategy to work epic would have to buy ALL the games to come out on steam…And well at that point it’s not really a viable model..
      Also they STILL don’t have a shopping cart. Is it really that hard a thing to add?

  • Well his strategy has backfired, there is a very vocal and large contingent that refuse to buy games from his service now.

    Maybe should have, you know, developed a storefront that actually had some features.

    • I actually think the people we see shouting online are a vocal minorty tbh, I’m sure epics store is probably making bank with all the fortnite installs it has.

      • Considering they’ve extended their free game thing until the end of the year, honestly, I don’t think they are seeing the user engagement they thought they had.

        And yes, whilst the aggrieved might shout the loudest, I don’t think the Fortnite userbase is all that reflective with the wider store.

      • What were his stats 60% of people on the epic browser don’t have steam… Doesn’t that really mean that 60% of his install base aren’t Core PC gamers?
        Also it turns out that the way the epic deal works is that they don’t directly pay cash. They purchase set amounts of game keys from the Devs (a few thousand or so so still = a couple of million in rev), which means you can’t trust their sales quotes.

  • But if there’s one thing I hope we can all agree on here, it’s that it’d be great to see more powerful video game executives providing long and detailed explanations of company policies not in a conference call or powerpoint presentation, but to some rando on Twitter.

    About as great as a policeman visiting your school to do an educational rap about drugs.

  • But if there fight against the 30% store cut is such a just cause, whywasnt develipers flicking to them?

    They werent cause despite that better margin alienating gamers by using a store with less features was not a steo they were willing to take… which is why Epic broke out the cheque book to sign deals that excludes Steam and Steam only.

    They are not challenging any other store for their 30% cut, just Steam!

    Make a better store!!!

    • Yeah ALL other storefronts are the 30%cut rate if their not first party titles. Consoles included the whole dev/rev split is basically a number Tim thought up that would make epic store competitive…but honestly that 18% must be the cost of what it takes to run a shopping cart and forums.

  • whynotboth.gif
    Epic is a company made of multiple people. I’m sure there are idealists in the business who are all “We need an industry-wide paradigm shift, and the best way to achieve that is through exclusives our own storefront”. And there are also people in the business who are like “Exclusives = $$$”. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

    • agree totally here, it’s a false dichotomy to state it has to be one or the other, we also have Epic doing things like this before, such as releasing the full source of their engine for $20, then for free.

      • It should be noted, it isn’t free at all, with Epic taking 5% of any gross income of a shipped title if you use their engine.

        • Very true but compared to the 1+ mil. it used to cost? Also if you do release on the epic store they waive that as well.
          It’s really not a bad price to pay for a fully developed engine (and full source code too).

          • Very highly dependent. Also, it being a 5% gross rather than net sales means it chews into your profit margins even more once you take out all the other things chewing into your per game costs.

            As for selling on the epic store, who buys stuff there? lol.

          • That was my point, the 5% being gross it has a large effect by removing that, but remember that Steams 30% is also out of your gross price, so the difference in what a developer/publisher will get is really big when you consider just a 12.5% margin change.

            Epic store needs major work, especially on the speed and efficiency side of things. But I have been using it since the UE4 launcher came out as I use the UE4 engine, and have no major complaints past the minor usabillity side of things.

          • The 5% gross is for the engine cost across all distribution methods slipoch, console, steam, retail, etc.

  • Even if what he said is true there is a simple rebuttal; how can you expect to change the industry when you are offering an inferior service? All you are doing is creating animosity towards not only Epic, but towards developers who need funding and feel pressured to take deals in order to make ends meet.

    • Can’t argue with this. The easiest way for any developer to instantly become absolutely hated today is to announce “Our game will be Epic exclusive”.

  • I’m sure the fact that they get the entirety of the critical initial sales period has absolutely nothing to do with it. They’re also totally not holding other stores to ransom either with saying that they’ll stop the exclusive behaviour if and only if other stores bow down to their demands. There’s also no irony in the fact that they praise GOG while not acknowledging the fact that the Epic store was responsible for the dismissal of GOG’s Fair Price scheme and the firing of staff a while back.

    It’s totally cool too that we as consumers aren’t seeing any of the benefits passed on to us as the developers get the benefits of less revenue sharing and thus have room to lower their prices while still making more of a profit. Hey, why don’t we do this with Brick and Mortar stores too? Lets give EB Games exclusive rights to sell all of our video games and see how cool people are with exclusivity deals then. /sarcasm

  • Ahh, now it makes sense. The reason they’re throwing their money around and hurting smaller stores with exclusivity is to make the gaming marketplace a better place!

  • Yeah, I’d put more stock in his flaccid attempt to justify their exclusives as, “What’s best for gamers,” if the Epic store wasn’t simultaneously making sure that developers are able to opt out of all the consumer-friendly protections that are directly and tangibly better for gamers.

    Not to mention that this whole, “If devs get a bigger cut, that’s better for gamers,” argument is some overly-optimistic theory that’s essentially the same as trickle-down economics that has never, ever, ever come true.

  • Just another reminder that you’ll rarely see bullshit get stacked higher than at the top of a “triple-AEYYY” gaming company.

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