A couple of months ago, when Epic Games announced that they were opening their computer games store, it was ridiculed like, “Oh my God, another Steam killer! Oh, how scary! " he was saved only by the significant argument about the 12% commission for publishers. It so often happens that when a studio has a history and financial success, it tries to open its own store, but often the games that this studio makes ended up being released on Steam anyway. And never did any Origin, Uplay or GOG.com compete with Valve's main cash cow.
But when large publishers are literally leaving Steam with their AAA projects, we realized that Epic Games Store is not some Origin, Uplay or GOG.com. As we wrote, the last precedent was the temporary exclusivity of Metro: Exodus for the Epic Games store. This can be treated differently, but the point is different. Now that everything is serious, we can confidently say that Uncle Gabin's big rolls shook slowly but surely. How did it happen?
It just so happened that for a long time Epic Games had no big hits before the release of Fortnite. And now his appearance provoked almost the second Big Bang in the gaming universe. I categorize Fortnite as a "folk game" with absolute confidence. This is what I call projects that go far beyond the framework of the gaming community, and even those who do not know much about games, and who have never played anything before, play in them.
This category includes The Witcher 3, Skyrim, FIFA and Mortal Kombat. So, Fortnite is played by a colossal number of people, about 200 million. It brings in so much money for the company that Tim Sweeney (founder of Epic Games) was named one of the 500 richest people in the world and was ranked 1955.
And this is one of the studio's main trump cards - its audience. After all, unexpectedly for more than 200 million people, the launcher with the game turns into a game store. Yes, to believe that just as unexpectedly all these people will immediately buy other games is silly. However, the potential is very large, and most importantly, Epic Games does not need to convince 200 million people, hardcore gamers or not, to install "another launcher". They already have it!
The company has overcome psychological barriers that can get in the way. A person does not need to download the store's launcher, install it, or register, get acquainted with it, since he has been using it for Fortnite for a long time. And many people do not even need to enter their bank details to pay for purchases, since they have already entered them into the system for conducting microtransactions in the same Fortnite.
The potential is not only that Epic Games is putting 200 million players in front of a platform to buy games where you can simply click the buy button, but also that they offer publishers a profitable platform for selling games with 200 million potential buyers.
How was it before, or what should the publishers do with this?
At one time, Steam gained fame for the reason that it brought together a buyer and a seller on the same site, and took a measly 30% from this. In the days of physical stores - it was just amazing! After all, before Steam, publishers had to give a much larger percentage of sales, negotiate with arrogant owners of retail chains to distribute their product from them and spend a lot on discs.
Steam was the distribution platform for all games, not just Valve's product. This is why he became so famous and established a monopoly in the market, turning 30% into a terrifying figure today. Valv themselves understood this and introduced discounts of up to 20% for those who managed to realize the potential of their game and earn more than 50 million. But that was a lot.
This is why publishers were so excited when the Epic Games Store offered just 12% and a huge audience. In addition, many Fortnite fans are unfamiliar with the gaming industry as they play "People's Project". They may not even know what Steam is, or simply not use it. Yes, for the sake of decency it is worth saying that we do not know what percentage of people who have a PC version of the launcher and who are not familiar with Steam, but it is clearly not small.
The charm of the “popular audience” (these are exactly those people from those 200 million who have not played games before) is that they have other interesting projects right under their nose that are new and interesting for her. And for publishers, these are potential new customers. But apart from 12% and the audience, Epic Games offers something else - the Unreal Engine. Developers who use this engine and want to exhibit in their store are not required to pay an additional 5% commission to its creator.
Lack of algorithms - only "manual work"
In addition to the above, Epic Games are taking a radically opposite path than Valve. The latter have always tried to make a site that will function itself. That is, only with the help of algorithms.
A person is excluded from the system as much as possible. The algorithms themselves decide what to show on the main page, the projects that have gained more credits of trust are knocked out to the top. It does not matter what games enter the trading floor - free market relations will weed out all the weak. And yet, let the community itself do the translation of the platform - it knows better.
All this sounds idealistic and is done to ensure that all products have a level playing field and healthy competition. Only practice shows that this does not work. Today Steam has become a dumping ground for stupid indie projects and a platform for "publishers" of all stripes, and algorithms offer users those same garbage indie projects.
There have been scandals more than once, when games with built-in miners leaked into Steam, or when the "publisher" put the developers' game on the site and stole all the money, and neither the developers nor Steam could fix it.
The Epic Games Store is about to return to a more classic concept of manually selecting projects. A special team will be created to consider the publisher's application and decide whether to pass it or not. Ideally, this should keep players from indie slag and low-quality projects. In reality, this may create corruption, but even then the situation will look much better than in Uncle Gabin's store.
The studio is also aiming at the Apple Store concept in design, where there will be author's collections, and all the content will be laid out in tiles with games and information materials.
As in the case of Fortnite, the store will engage so-called influencers or opinion leaders, in other words. This is the so-called Support-A-Creator system. It works in a similar way to promo codes. For example, there is a Fortnite conditional streamer that is part of Support-A-Creator. All people who love his streams add him to their list of “favorite streamers / bloggers / reviewers”, and when they make a purchase, a certain percentage of those purchases goes to this streamer. Thus, these influencers will advertise the products in the store, and if the buyer wants to support him, then this influencer will receive a percentage from this when buying.
This system works great in Fortnite, with some streamers making really big bucks and making the game their main source of income. The studio relies heavily on this system, where influencers expand consumer demand and also reassure them that they have leverage over the system to avoid explicit advertising. And this is another bonus offered to publishers.
If I am a publisher and go to the Epic store, what do I get? There is a huge audience there (and imagine, she wants to play not only Fortnite!) And I pay only 12% commission on sales, and if my game runs on Unreal, then I also save money, but that's not all. A dozen influencers are promoting my game, and I have nothing to lose!
But I'm not a publisher, I'm an ordinary gamer who doesn't play Fortnite, and my Steam library has over a hundred favorite titles and the whole gaming life! I don't want to move to another store just for the publisher to roll around like cheese in butter!
And this is one of the main problems of the Epic Games store. It is much more difficult for him to offer something to players, especially hardcore ones (those who have been playing everything for a long time). Steam has a well-developed ecosystem with screenshots, an active community, an achievement system, forums, curators and cool client personalization.
But Tim Sweeney's store doesn't have that. However, you can expect that the community will emerge, although the wait will take a long time. Therefore, the store is making a knight's move, trying to attract large publishers to its side, and gamers will come after them. These techniques are called "dirty" in relation to competition, but we are talking about fighting a monopoly.
In order to attract gamers to itself, the store lures them with large exclusives, such as: Metro: Exodus, Tom Clancy's: The Division 2 (not surprising, because this is considered an ideal platform for playing the service), Ashen, World War Z, and besides In addition, the store gave life to the last season of Walkers and somehow fabulously negotiated Journey! Epic Games does have very ambitious plans to expand the exclusive projects that they have to offer, and if the rumors are true, then the PC version of RDR2 will also be seen as a temporary or permanent exclusive on this site. And those projects that have already entered it are selling well, which confirms the purchasing power and interest of the audience.
The company is also going to develop its information sector, and for another year every two weeks it will distribute games for free, and not some indie rubbish, but quite good projects. For example, Epics were given out by Subnautica and Super Meat Boy.
It's a pity that Steam still wins with its sales 4 times a year, but Epic Games is not going to be so generous.
David and Goliath
So will Epic Games kill the Steam Store? I guess he will kill the monopoly and stir up Valve. To be honest - he already did it. In the end, there will be healthy competition, the result of which is a benefit for us, buyers. I think, although many people call Epic Games' methods "dirty", this is only because it is not his killer that looms on the horizon on Steam, but a good opponent. After all, if this continues, maybe in Steam, for example, they will introduce manual moderation of games and fix the algorithms. I am sure of only one thing - competition will only make both stores better.
The Topic of Article: Breakdown: Will Epic Games Kill the Steam Store?.