While it’s obviously not going to be at the same level as Steam, the Epic Games Store has got plenty of fans of its own. Helped by a string of excellent free games throughout 2020, Epic has revealed some key figures in its official year in review.
The full breakdown offers the best public snapshot of Epic’s attempts to take on Valve’s juggernaut Steam, which has been the defacto digital PC gaming marketplace for almost 20 years. And so far, the battle’s going well. Epic also revealed that their monthly active users has soared to over 56 million, with more than 749 million free games claimed via Epic accounts over the last year.
When some of those free games include GTA 5 and Civilization 6, it’s no surprise so many people took advantage. But outside of the giant infographic, Epic revealed that their daily active users has risen to 31.3 million, with a peak concurrent users rising to 13 million from 7 million last year.
By comparison, Steam has been enjoying peak concurrent users around the 23 and 24 million mark for most of this month. Epic’s peak concurrent users means it’s roughly at the point where Steam was at the end of 2016, so they’re not doing too badly at all. To put the 56 million monthly active users in comparison, consider this: The Switch has sold 68 million units worldwide, according to Nintendo’s latest figures. Purchasing behaviours are obviously hugely different when picking up a Switch versus using a PC, but it highlights the opportunity Epic has with their store design, algorithms and push notifications to encourage someone just playing Fortnite or GTA 5 to try another game.
Of course, what helps the growth and stickiness of Steam is the ability for developers to self-publish on the platform. That’s something Epic says they’ll have soon:
In 2021, we’re going to rapidly expand the catalog of new titles available on the Epic Games Store even further by providing developers with self-publishing tools for the EGS Platform and we’ll be releasing details on those specific plans soon.
What’ll be interesting to see for both platforms is whether the pandemic-induced spike in hours played and users tails off any time this year. So far, both platforms — and all forms of gaming — have surged into the stratosphere. As vaccines start to be rolled out worldwide, it’ll be interesting to see whether gaming’s newest audiences stay with the trend, or revert to pre-2020 behaviours.