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Tim Sweeney: Epic Games Store exclusives will help devs everywhere earn more

Tim Sweeney: Epic Games Store exclusives will help devs everywhere earn more

June 26, 2019 | By Chris Kerr

Epic Games founder and chief exec Tim Sweeney has suggested that procuring exclusives for the Epic Games Store isn't simply about helping the nascent marketplace compete with rivals like Steam. 

Although big-name exclusives (timed or otherwise) like Metro Exodus and Control will undoubtedly help the Epic Games Store establish itself as a major player, Sweeney claims they'll also help developers across the board earn more money in the long run. 

Outlining his position on Twitter, Sweeney suggested the only way to get Steam and other storefronts to buck the standard 70 percent revenue share offered to devs in favor of the 88 percent cut offered by Epic is to keep applying pressure. In this case, that means brokering more exclusivity deals than you can shake a well oiled stick at.

"We believe exclusives are the only strategy that will change the 70/30 status quo at a large enough scale to permanently affect the whole game industry," he wrote. 

"For example, after years of great work by independent stores (excluding big publishers like EA-Activision-Ubi), none seem to have reached 5 percent of Steam’s scale. Nearly all have more features than Epic; and the ability to discount games is limited by various external pressures.

"This leads to the strategy of exclusives which, though unpopular with dedicated Steam gamers, do work, as established by the major publisher storefronts and by the key Epic Games store releases compared to their former Steam revenue projections and their actual console sales."

It's a tactic Sweeney admits might seem "disruptive" to some (and particularly Steam users), but he's adamant it's a solution that's "proportionate to the problem it addresses." 

In the long term, he believes ensuring developers everywhere get more cash for their work will benefit everyone, including those consumers currently lambasting Epic for smuggling some titles away from Steam. 

"The 30 percent store tax usually exceeds the entire profits of the developer who built the game that’s sold. This is a disastrous situation for developers and publishers alike, so I believe the strategy of exclusives is proportionate to the problem," he continued. 

"If the Epic strategy either succeeds in building a second major storefront for PC games with an 88/12 revenue split, or even just leads other stores to significantly improve their terms, the result will be a major wave of reinvestment in game development and a lowering of costs.

"I believe this approach passes the test of ultimately benefiting gamers after game storefronts have rebalanced and developers have reinvested more of their fruits of their labor into creation rather than taxation."

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