I've been surprised by the aggression against the Epic Store's attempt to give Steam some competition. I welcomed that company in particular into the market, and this was after years of hating Ubi, Rockstar, and EA for creating their storefronts. But I think this is a massive change to what we've seen in other platforms, and I'd like to go over why.
- Fortnite has demonstrated Epic's desire to engage and support their community. Unlike EA and other giants, Epic has listened to its fanbase and tried to create things that it thought they wanted. It's had some whiffs, but I've never seen the degree of community involvement I've seen with Fortnite... EVER. Whether you like the game or not... Whether you think Season Passes are a good way to monetize or not... it is obvious they are continually updating and changing their game to ensure the experience is continually new. Other companies looked at their customers as rubes, trying to cash in on the smallest amount of effort. Epic has produced a whirlwind of updates, far beyond expectation.
- Epic is offering a higher percentage of the money taken in to the people who make the games. This might seem a little tedious, and yes, most of the time this money will go to the publisher, not the developer, but 30% is a LOT to charge for a digital product. For awareness, clothing typically has about a 55% markup, but that's for products that a company has to purchase before it sells them. Groceries are typically marked up about 20%, and they SPOIL. For a product that doesn't have to be purchased to distribute, 30% seems outrageous to me.
- Epic is curating its store instead of creating a giant cess pit of questionable games loosely labeled and barely marketed. Steam has allowed charlatans into its store to sell garbage products listed alongside real games. They've even started allowing pornography to be sold alongside named products. I'm not saying there shouldn't be a place for these things to be sold, but utilizing their flagship store ensures that I can't let my children loose to peruse those shelves. There is no reason that Steam can't create offshoot storefronts that use the same API, but they're too lazy. I know game developers who see no point in actually selling their game on Steam because it will just get buried in garbage. I don't blame them.
- Capitalism is best served by competition. We NEED other companies making regular money off PC gamers if we want our services to improve. Denying that is denying reality. And while we're looking for competition, we need to strongly consider that it took YEARS for Steam to develop certain features we like, and we should support companies who appear to be pursuing equivalent goals, even if they can't materialize them out of thin air for instant competition. Why do we need competition? Steam is debuting a new game interface soon... would they have done that without competition? Doubt it... or they would have done it sooner
Of course we shouldn't believe the pie-in-the-sky promises of companies who have not demonstrated a willingness to produce value, but Epic has demonstrated that it can and will. They are addressing the huge markup and poor storefront issues we see at Steam, and this is imperative as Steam appears to be on a sad course to self-destruction from preposterous apathy. We can and should support Epics efforts to cement itself into the monopolistic world of PC game distribution without whining that Steam deserves an undeserved monopoly. And we should be willing to accept feature lag, as Epic is breaking down a huge barrier to entry with surprisingly good skill and dedication.
I stand behind Epic... and look forward to a better gaming future with both Steam and Epic stores working well at serving the PC gaming market.