Epic has, as promised, launched its new Store. While the service is obviously intended to take Steam on head-to-head, with a 12/88 revenue split for Epic and developers as opposed to Valve’s 30/70 split, gamers who are used to the literally thousands of titles available on Steam may be surprised to see just how few titles are currently available on Epic’s service. There are three, not counting Fortnite itself: Ashen, Hello Neighbor, and an exclusive game, Hades, built by Supergiant Games, which is also responsible for Bastion and Pyre.
To build buzz and presence, Epic has pledged to release a new free game for users every two weeks, starting with Subnautica on December 14 and Super Meat Boy on December 28. This will supposedly continue, meaning gamers who pick the service up could be rewarded with a total of 28 titles by the end of 2019. As Polygon details, Epic Games isn’t the first company to use free giveaways to build up your library, but most of the services that have deployed this strategy either aren’t using it any longer (EA wants you to subscribe to its EA Access for $ 15 a month and has stopped releasing free games) or don’t have an equivalent offer. If the company continues to release well-received titles on a two-week basis, it’ll bolster its chances of building any kind of user-base.
Darksiders III will join the service on December 14, with future games including Genesis Alpha One, Journey (a former PlayStation 3 exclusive), Maneater, Outer Wilds, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, Satisfactory, Super Meat Boy Forever, The Pathless, and World War Z. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more titles move to Epic, despite the currently anemic selection, for a very simple reason: discovery. One of Steam’s largest problems, and an issue that’s been identified by a number of current developers, is that the avalanche of titles on the service makes it extremely difficult to create any kind of buzz or consumer awareness of a new game unless you have access to a AAA game’s marketing budget. Granted, people aren’t going to fight to be on a platform that no one is using, but the sheer success of Fortnite means Epic has a vast potential audience of players already. Launching a store effort when its game is enjoying such phenomenal success is a shrewd move by the company.
And hard as it is to remember, Steam itself launched with just a handful of titles, once upon a time. Granted, it had more than four — Valve didn’t launch Steam until Half-Life 2 was available, which means it also shipped out with Half-Life and its expansion pack, and various mods like Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat. At the very least, it’ll be interesting to see how the market responds to the availability of a new service intended to serve as a distribution point for multiple publishers rather than focusing on a single company the way uPlay or EA’s Origin do. As we’ve previously discussed, GOG is the closest competitor to Steam — and that company’s insistence on a DRM-free gaming experience, while laudable, also limits its ability to compete commercially with a service that does integrate DRM capabilities. Epic will allow games to use their own DRM solutions, as well as supporting games made with both Unreal Engine 4 and Unity.