At the last GDC 2019 conference, at which Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 was announced, Epic Games reported no less loud news: high sales of Metro: Exodus, which was released on PC exclusively in the Epic Games Store, 85 million accounts currently registered in the store, the announcement of a major developer support program for Unreal Engine, and a new list of major exclusives for the Epic Store.
Against the backdrop of these events, Eurogamer journalist Martin Robertson spoke with the head of Epic Games Tim Sweeney and discussed with him all relevant topics after the conference. We have translated and selected the most interesting from the interview with Tim Sweeney.
On Epic Games Store Success
One of the first questions the journalist asked was about the success of the site. However, in the past, game stores that entered the market could not compete with Steam. At GDC 2019, Epic Games announced the figure of 85 million users, which indicates the success of the site. Did the studio originally plan for this outcome?
Tim Sweeney replied with the following:
“In 2012, we decided to move away from creating large-budget projects like Gears of War towards online games. That's when we started making Fortnite. The development process was very long. The fact that we have 85 million players in our ecosystem depends a lot on the success of Fortnite as well as the release of free games. Surprisingly, some exclusive releases such as Metro have high sales. In the early days for the store, we were aware of the importance of exclusives, but whenever we predicted sales of a game on Steam, there was always a fear at Epic if we could achieve something like this. Seeing that we surpassed them on a number of occasions was great.
The success of exclusives and our other games doesn't mean that the Epic Store is great, but that games come first, and a great game will always succeed no matter where it is sold. We see that developers dominate the industry, and where there are good developers, there will always be buyers for their games. ”
After it was announced at GDC 2019 that games like Control and The Outer Words would be Epic Games exclusives, many gamers began to complain that the Epic Store was killing the industry and forcing them to buy games only from them. Sweeney said the studio will continue to do what it thinks is right. In his opinion, gamers are angry because they do not understand what exactly his studio shop does for the industry.
“We set ourselves the goal of correcting the economy of the gaming business towards the supply side. I understand gamers don't appreciate what we do because they don't know the details. How much money goes to the developer, and how much Valve - you, as a gamer, cannot say. However, for a developer, the difference between 70 and 88 percent is very important. For them, an additional 18% of revenue is the line between existing and leaving the business.
On the shoulders of the developer are the costs of creating his game, salaries for employees, marketing. Stores often get a lot more than developers and don't care about the high costs of creating a product. It is very important to fix this - whether our strategy is popular or not, it works, ”says Sweeney.
Initially, this was the main goal when launching the site. A huge Steam commission convinced them of the correct decision. Today, with the great success the studio has achieved with Fortnite, they can devote themselves to helping other developers.
According to Tim, large publishers are willing to cooperate and give their projects to exclusivity, as it is financially beneficial for them. They can also independently control their page in the store.
Next, the journalist asked Tim an urgent question - it is easy to understand why their site is attractive for the publisher, but what is the benefit to the buyers?
“Free games every two weeks is one of the main benefits for buyers. You go home and get these games, build a library without spending any money. And these are great games, some big, some small. And this is good. Over time, we create more and more features and develop the platform. ”
Future of the platform and responsibility
Epics have recently published a development program for their site. According to Tim, this is just the beginning:
“We don't need to develop the way modern digital stores do. If you look at the American and European markets, yes, there are platforms developing like ours. But if we take a look at the Korean market, we see that game distribution there is related to social activities and messaging applications. In China, this is Wechat - more a social network than a store. ”
Further, Martin recalled that Valv recently suffered from harsh criticism of the products that were sold on the site [most likely, we are talking about the release of a simulator of a rapist, as well as a large number of junk indie projects]. How will the Epic Store fight this?
“When we sell a product to customers, we understand that we are responsible for the level of quality and decency in them. Therefore, we will not sell low quality games. We review each game manually and take appropriate steps to stay away from porn games and business model projects. ”
About Developer Grants
A grant for developers in the amount of up to $ 100 million - on the one hand, looks like a charity, and on the other, as a way to make money. However, this is not a business investment in the classical sense. The Epic Games CEO believes: “… the best companies can support each other's arcs. Unreal grants, we had a $ 5 million fund distributed over four years with no restrictions on projects we thought could help. […] The small amount of money invested in Astroneer has enabled the developers to sell over a million copies on Steam. We help developers in the early stages by sharing risks, thereby developing the entire ecosystem.
This is such a long-term view of things. We don't have a team of accountants reviewing every grant, tracking income that goes back to Epic. Rather, we're just helping good projects.
The Topic of Article: ”Developers dominate the industry ...” is the most interesting interview with Tim Sweeney.