As the trawl through Epic’s court documents continues, another figure jumps out: $US1 ($1.3) billion — the amount Epic had spent on securing exclusives by 2019.
Spread across 110 titles, the detail is hidden within a document exploring “revenue assumptions”. In this, while guessing at potential income, they state that for 2019 titles they’d spent $US542 million ($702 million), for 2020 $US444 million ($576 million), and they’d already signed up $US52 million ($67 million) worth for 2021. (Although that last figure could be on just one title, given how much these deals can be worth.)
Obviously, these are 2019 figures, so they don’t reflect how much has been spent on deals since. But it demonstrates just how much money Epic is willing to throw at the Epic Game Store in its efforts to dethrone Steam.
Exploring the documents — tantalizingly marked, “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL – ATTORNEYS’ EYES ONLY” — there emerges two imagined pathways into the Epic Game Store’s future. One an “aggressive pursuit scenario”, the other a “winding down scenario”, possibly suggesting the megacorp considered that the whole experiment might fail.
In its optimistic predictions, Epic aimed for 50 per cent of the PC market, although that was contingent on “if Steam doesn’t react”. Presumably, that meant in the sense of whether Valve attempted to mimic the strategy of paying for exclusives and the like, which of course it has not. If it did react, Epic saw its chances at around 35 per cent. In the Winding Down Model, Epic saw its share peaking at 20 per cent and then falling to around 8 per cent. It’d be fascinating to find out where it really is in 2021 since neither scenario seems at all likely – I’d be surprised if Epic managed that 8 per cent yet — perhaps such details could come out in the current court-based cage match.
Of course, throwing a billion dollars at an experiment is put into context by yesterday’s astonishing news that Fortnite had made Epic over $US9 ($12) billion across the two years the Epic Game Store was launched. So yes, while the Store is certainly nowhere near profitable at this point, Epic itself likely is.