Monday, June 15th 2020

Has The Epic Games Store Helped or Hindered the PC Gaming Market?

When Epic Games launched the Epic Games Store back in December 2018 most people wrote it off as a glorified Fortnite launcher which could never compete with Steam's reach and features. While the Epic Games Store is still lacking in features compared to Steam it has come a long way since it's launch slowly adding in new features.

The Epic Games Store surprised many when it offered Subnautica for completely free on the store and so began the tradition of the Epic Games Store's weekly game giveaways which have given away over 100 different games in the last 18 months. While pursuing this strategy of game giveaways to attract new users to the platform Epic Games also secured many exclusives for the launcher which wasn't nearly as well received.
The Epic Games Store has given away roughly 110 games since it's launch with a total value of 2298 USD RRP or 668 USD based on the lowest recorded sale price. When analyzing all the games given away it is interesting to see that most had previously been on sale for under 10 USD with just over half of the games going on sale for under 5 USD. When looking at the data we can see Epic Games isn't slowing down with the two recent giveaways of Civilization VI, and Grand Theft Auto V being some of the highest value games offered.

While the Epic Games Launcher has arguably upended a very complacent market with their free game giveaways it also employed the extremely unpopular strategy of launcher exclusive games such as with Metro Exodus. The Epic Games Store now holds over 100 exclusives and 30 more in the pipeline which limits competition and locks consumers into their platform.

What do you think, has Epic Games done more good with their free game giveaways or hurt the industry with exclusivity deals?

You can view the full table of games below:
Sources: Pro Game Guides, IsThereAnyDeal
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105 Comments on Has The Epic Games Store Helped or Hindered the PC Gaming Market?

#26
Sithaer
TheUn4seen
Yay, I get a game for the low, low price of "give us all your personal data so we can sell it to advertisers and spammers. We will also leak it sooner or later. But here, you get a five dollar game!". Nah, thanks.
To be honest, competition is generally good so I'm not going to complain, other than about the fact that the market gets fragmented much like the video streaming mess. You need a dozen accounts to be able to get what you want, and a dozen "launchers" running in the background. I have a feeling that the pirate shops will see more traffic again.
I'm actually glad I got a bit too old to play games, so I don't have to deal with this stupidity.
I have 7 launchers installed and only use the one where I'm actually playing a game, rest is not running at all 'windows startups are also disabled'.

To keep track of where I have my games I use GoG Galaxy, its not perfect but gets the job done just fine.

No issues with EPIC either, actually I prefer the simple design as Steam is a bit of a 'clusterfoq' for my taste.
Posted on Reply
#27
Imouto
The EGS is a cancer and it is not doing anything to undermine Steam's so called "monopoly".

Everyone is focused in the supposed war going on between the EGS and Steam and don't care at all about how much the EGS is hurting platforms like GOG. And I said "supposed" because Valve doesn't seem to give a second thought about questionable practices and coercive statements. Meanwhile GOG had to suffer Steam's monopoly and now the EGS's monopolistic practices to snatch market share from Steam. Because signing timed exclusives and giving away games like there's no tomorrow flexing your financial muscle is what a piece of shit would try to pass as a David vs Goliath fight.

So the EGS is doing what a bully would do in a position of power except everyone is fine with it because it has the omnipotent Steam in front of it. Meanwhile bystanders are being crushed between the two of them and everyone is cheering because "FREE GAMES I WILL NEVER PLAY!!!". The PC gaming community is beyond redemption.
Posted on Reply
#28
silentbogo
Gaining auditory by dumping money in giveaways and exclusives is the only thing that keeps it afloat.
The store itself is an utter garbage, as it was before. I don't wanna sound like a broken record, but after all this time they can't even manage a simple shopping cart.
In addition to that they've added a new problem - high memory footprint and excessive CPU/GPU usage. Probably making your PC work harder to encrypt all the telemetry traffic. :banghead:
Official response "it should lower when not in focus", but in reality it keeps doing something constantly, unless minimized to tray (and even then it manages to use GPU for some reason).
And still no community/social features, no achievements, and most importantly - no user reviews.
Vayra86
EGS is in fact turning the industry trend back to the way it should be
No, GOG is keeping things the way they were and should be (you buy it - you own it).
EGS is simply splurging on Fortnite piggy bank for the sole purpose of rubbing it in Gabe Newell's face. Their current model is unsustainable on its own, and the way they handle discounts and sale events is actually damaging to developers.
And, despite all the exclusivity deals, patience still won. Games like BL3 and Metro Exodus sold well on Steam, and customers got an added bonus of launch discounts. I can safely assume Control will do just as well. Though, I'm certain devs and middlemen didn't make as much money as they would in an "unlikely, unspeakable, and unimaginable" scenario of simply launching on all popular platforms.
Posted on Reply
#29
Valantar
Imouto
The EGS is a cancer and it is not doing anything to undermine Steam's so called "monopoly".

Everyone is focused in the supposed war going on between the EGS and Steam and don't care at all about how much the EGS is hurting platforms like GOG. And I said "supposed" because Valve doesn't seem to give a second thought about questionable practices and coercive statements. Meanwhile GOG had to suffer Steam's monopoly and now the EGS's monopolistic practices to snatch market share from Steam. Because signing timed exclusives and giving away games like there's no tomorrow flexing your financial muscle is what a piece of shit would try to pass as a David vs Goliath fight.

So the EGS is doing what a bully would do in a position of power except everyone is fine with it because it has the omnipotent Steam in front of it. Meanwhile bystanders are being crushed between the two of them and everyone is cheering because "FREE GAMES I WILL NEVER PLAY!!!". The PC gaming community is beyond redemption.
... so it's better to just let Steam rule the roost? I sincerely doubt the entry of EGS into the market hurts GOG's existing customer base, though you're welcome to provide data that says that that indeed happens.
Posted on Reply
#30
lZKoce
I am not sure what effect EGS "Free" policy has. I am after a game. I get it where I get it at best bargain. Very rarely I go out of my way to purchase at launch price. Last time I did was for Starcraft2 as I was a huuuge fan of the competitive play. Like a South Korean dude with the hats and sticks for clapping? :) If I have to choose I like GOG best as I don't actually need their launcher. I am not a free-game hunter, but I still accumulated a lot of free titles in my library and to be honest I might have never picked them up and it wouldn't matter as I will probably never play them any way. But getting the free games you have to visit their page and when you have some much traffic, someone will buy something I guess. If that's the general idea they are going for.
Posted on Reply
#31
Vayra86
silentbogo
No, GOG is keeping things the way they were and should be (you buy it - you own it).
EGS is simply splurging on Fortnite piggy bank for the sole purpose of rubbing it in Gabe Newell's face. Their current model is unsustainable on its own, and the way they handle discounts and sale events is actually damaging to developers.
And, despite all the exclusivity deals, patience still won. Games like BL3 and Metro Exodus sold well on Steam, and customers got an added bonus of launch discounts. I can safely assume Control will do just as well. Though, I'm certain devs and middlemen didn't make as much money as they would in an "unlikely, unspeakable, and unimaginable" scenario of simply launching on all popular platforms.
You're not making sense though. First you say GOG is keeping it as it should be, and then you continue your Steam crusade which for all intents and purposes is just as much ownership of a license as you have on EGS. What's more, with Steam you always have the DRM layer, and on EGS you really don't. Games will run without it unless publisher says they shouldn't.

Note: software was ALWAYS a license and the product exists irrespective of the existence of a launcher or store. We have yet to see that one land in court, but I reckon publishers will be forced to keep the game available.

Also later you speak of customer choice, but then advocate the idea that all platforms must offer the exact same equal content. What is there to choose, then? Also... that sounds like some really strange form of marketplace. You ever came to a supermarket that had ALL products in existence? And to follow up on that. What if they all had all products and all stores were an equal distance from your home (your proposed solution wrt digital distribution).... would that not be just a race to the bottom in terms of price war? The loser: publishers. The winner: nobody because funding cannot be secured for the next game. The solution to avoiding a race to the bottom, is exclusive content. It happens everywhere.

Last but not least, you say its not viable, but the article specifically points out that the games offered are often already discounted once before, so the estimated retail value has already sunk tremendously anyway. Seems pretty viable as marketing, to me. The peak sales are gone and the leftover customers get a taste of it = exposure for next installment. Its not rocket science...

I can't even
Posted on Reply
#32
bogami
I will say from my own experience that the connection to EPIC servers is constantly interrupted and causes the loss of the game on the Internet almost twice a day and more !
Posted on Reply
#33
Valantar
silentbogo
No, GOG is keeping things the way they were and should be (you buy it - you own it).
That' true, but they never had a chance at moving the needle against Steam's monopoly. I'd much rather take a competitive duopoly with peripheral players like GOG delivering a better product, than a monopoly with the same peripheral players. Let the big guys wear each other down, that way the smaller actors can be left alone and do their own thing.
silentbogo
EGS is simply splurging on Fortnite piggy bank for the sole purpose of rubbing it in Gabe Newell's face.
Is that a bad thing, really? That guy needs his ego jacked down by a few (thousand) notches.
silentbogo
Their current model is unsustainable on its own, and the way they handle discounts and sale events is actually damaging to developers.
Unsustainable? Sure. But that's what is needed to wear down an entrenched monopoly, and why someone with that kind of power is necessary to do so. Also, damaging to developers, how? More damaging than Steam's policy of mandatory sales with 100% of the discount coming out of developers' cuts?
silentbogo
And, despite all the exclusivity deals, patience still won. Games like BL3 and Metro Exodus sold well on Steam, and customers got an added bonus of launch discounts. I can safely assume Control will do just as well. Though, I'm certain devs and middlemen didn't make as much money as they would in an "unlikely, unspeakable, and unimaginable" scenario of simply launching on all popular platforms.
"Launch discounts" - are you joking? That's a price drop from the game being on the market for a year or more. That isn't a launch discount, that is stubbornly waiting for an arbitrary event and then framing that event coinciding with a price drop due to the age of the product as a victory. That is borderline delusional. And, given the difference in margins, let's assume that total sales over a period (let's say 2 years) is identical whether it launched simultaneously on all platforms or a 1-year EGS exclusive, and with the exclusive let's assume that they lose 50% of sales for the first year, with those people buying the game on Steam at a lower price (let's say $40, down from $60) a year later. Do developers actually lose anything? Given Steam's cut is 30% vs. EGS's 10%, not really. I can't be bothered to do the actual numbers, but if anything, the difference for developers would be marginal.

And, of course, the perspective you're presenting conveniently forgets the fact that a competitive market gives developers and publishers more negotiating power (they can go to a competitor if they get a bad deal), while your dreamworld scenario of "simply launching on all popular platforms" in a pre-EGS world would mean >99% of sales on Steam, where developers are treated like garbage and don't have any type of say.
Posted on Reply
#34
beedoo
Your opening statement summed it up perfectly for me.

All I actually want is the glorified launcher - without any of the rich features. Is that too much to ask? That's why I still refuse to use Steam. In fact, I'll go one step further and say I don't want any launchers.

As it happens, I've been picking up these free Epic game, but I haven't installed their launcher yet - so I've not been able to play those either...
Posted on Reply
#35
GreiverBlade
need a "i don't give a F" option ...

free games are nice as long as they are free and Epic is not the only one with free games giveaway ... but it is the only one where i would only get the free game from it ....

so they didn't help or hinder, since they did nothing new ... (ok some of the title they gave away are nice )
Posted on Reply
#36
Vayra86
beedoo
Your opening statement summed it up perfectly for me.

All I actually want is the glorified launcher - without any of the rich features. Is that too much to ask? That's why I still refuse to use steam.

As it happens, I've been picking up these free Epic game, but I haven't installed their launcher yet - so I've not been able to play those either...
This is what you need then! You can even add custom locations/maps.

playnite.link/

Posted on Reply
#37
silentbogo
Vayra86
You're not making sense though. First you say GOG is keeping it as it should be, and then you continue your Steam crusade which for all intents and purposes is just as much ownership of a license as you have on EGS. What's more, with Steam you always have the DRM layer, and on EGS you really don't. Games will run without it unless publisher says they shouldn't.
Steam crussade? WTF are you smoking? All I said is that "timed exclusives" sold well. Metro is also doing quite well on GOG, but others haven't "expired" yet to be available elsewhere.
Valantar
Is that a bad thing, really? That guy needs his ego jacked down by a few (thousand) notches.
I'll put it simple: there is a big difference between "revolutionizing content delivery" and cock-measuring contest.
From everything I've outlined earlier it's easy to see that customers are their last priority. As a typical consumer I don't really give two shits about who makes what percentage of revenue. All I care about is the final price, how easy it is to use, and how appealing it is to use long-term. So far EGS haven't ticked a single box out of it, including their glorified lower prices.
Valantar
More damaging than Steam's policy of mandatory sales with 100% of the discount coming out of developers' cuts?
Are you smoking the same shit that Vayra86 has?
Steam sales are on an opt-in basis. That's why you have different discount rates for different games, or some games not being discounted at all. Once again - voluntary, not mandatory.
partner.steamgames.com/doc/marketing/discounts
Posted on Reply
#38
Vayra86
silentbogo
Steam crussade? WTF are you smoking? All I said is that "timed exclusives" sold well. Metro is also doing quite well on GOG, but others haven't "expired" yet to be available elsewhere.


I'll put it simple: there is a big difference between "revolutionizing content delivery" and cock-measuring contest.
From everything I've outlined earlier it's easy to see that customers are their last priority. As a typical consumer I don't really give two shits about who makes what percentage of revenue. All I care about is the final price, how easy it is to use, and how appealing it is to use long-term. So far EGS haven't ticked a single box out of it, including their glorified lower prices.


Are you smoking the same shit that Vayra86 has?
Steam sales are on an opt-in basis. That's why you have different discount rates for different games, or some games not being discounted at all. Once again - voluntary, not mandatory.
partner.steamgames.com/doc/marketing/discounts
Forgive my misinterpretation / assumption, I see it now.
Posted on Reply
#39
beedoo
Vayra86
This is what you need then! You can even add custom locations/maps.

playnite.link/
Yeah, that's waaaay too glorified. I'm not a console user so I don't want any flashy stuff with graphics. Just want to click my short cut icon and for the game to launch. In the background a single service can do the DRM check and then carry on loading the game...
Posted on Reply
#40
dyonoctis
beedoo
Your opening statement summed it up perfectly for me.

All I actually want is the glorified launcher - without any of the rich features. Is that too much to ask? That's why I still refuse to use Steam. In fact, I'll go one step further and say I don't want any launchers.

As it happens, I've been picking up these free Epic game, but I haven't installed their launcher yet - so I've not been able to play those either...
A wolrd without launcher will not happen, those launchers are also offering servers for multiplayers games, instead of having to build and maintain your own datacenter, you can use valve's hardware, and for players that meant that they can easily invite their friends to join a game instead of having to deal with a per game friend system. The Psn and xbox live are offering the same capabilities, If developing on pc meant that you had to build your own datacenter, that would become a huge thrown off, indies don't have that kind of ressources, and p2p isn't always ideal (nintendo online is getting trashed for being p2p, and underperforming).

So often I feel like people are never considering usecase that don't fit their personal habits when they make demands about x or y product.
Posted on Reply
#41
BSim500
Vayra86
What's more, with Steam you always have the DRM layer, and on EGS you really don't. Games will run without it unless publisher says they shouldn't.
Indeed. There's a thread on the GOG forum maintaining an Epic Games That Work Without The Epic Launcher spreadsheet. Some good ones on there (Batman Arkham Trilogy, Ark: Survival, Subnautica, Civ VI, etc) that are all still DRM'd on Steam.
Posted on Reply
#42
employee24601
I really couldn't care less about EGS, however that would probably change if they actually collared a game exclusive I cared about. Then again, I've got such a massive backlog I still don't know what happened to JC Denton. The devs who have game exclusives on EGS seem pretty happy about it though. Epic guarantee a certain return, and the studio walks away happy- cash in hand, with Epic taking on the risk that the game doesn't sell per expectations.

Anyway, I'd rather support GOG. They earned a whole lot of goodwill with the sheer amount of free stuff they pumped out for Witcher, not to mention their general philosophy and stance on DRM. Bring on Cyberpunk 2077!

Other than that, exclusives suck. Now excuse me while I go play Half-Life: Alyx with the Rift S I specifically got to play it during the Pandemic.
Posted on Reply
#43
Valantar
silentbogo
I'll put it simple: there is a big difference between "revolutionizing content delivery" and cock-measuring contest.
From everything I've outlined earlier it's easy to see that customers are their last priority. As a typical consumer I don't really give two shits about who makes what percentage of revenue. All I care about is the final price, how easy it is to use, and how appealing it is to use long-term. So far EGS haven't ticked a single box out of it, including their glorified lower prices.
I'll admit to not paying much attention to this, but is EGS supposed to sell games cheaper? I can't say I've noticed that at least. Nor do I see that as any part of the point. The point is establishing a relevant competitor to Steam.

As for dick-measuring contests, I really don't give a damn, but I do have a vested interest in seeing overblown egos getting brought back to reality. And Gaben is quite possibly the biggest one in PC gaming. I'm not saying Tim Sweeney is better by any stretch of the imagination, but it's better for everyone if those two wear each other down rather than letting Gabe sit on his throne and be adored by gamers for eternity.

As for you only caring about those things: congratulations, you are by your own admission part of the core problem with the gaming industry. A short brief: the games industry is dominated by publishers and platform holders, who - while of course having not insignificant monetary needs due to platform and infrastructure development, marketing, etc. - capture a grossly disproportionate share of revenue, leaving developers seriously struggling. How many developers do we hear of who go bankrupt every year? How many studios are bought out by a publisher or similar gigantic corporation, either after going under or to avoid going under? Pretty much all of them. This is a market that breeds conservative game development, crushes creativity, upholds horrible working conditions (crunch has been a focus for a decade or more, yet is still prevalent across the industry, just to mention one example), and treats developers - the ones who actually make the games we play, after all - as tenant workers with pretty much no rights. This is why EGS's choice of taking a much smaller cut of revenue is a big deal (though of course not any kind of ultimate solution) - it betters the chances of studios staying afloat and making what they want to make, rather than them being forced by their publisher to make the next dirt-brown shooter me-too open-world game neon-colored battle royale (or whatever is the hot new thing in a couple of years). Few studios self-publish, so of course developers still get a disproportionately small part of the pay for their work, but you have to admit it's more fair that the people making the game get, say, 60% out of 90% of the sales price, than 60% out of 70% of the sales price? Right?

For a well-functioning games industry that actually produces interesting and good games, we need workers with stable and healthy working conditions, we need fair compensation for their work, we need an industry that values creative work much more than it does today, and we need gamers to quit their silly fanboyisms for things that aren't even games in the first place. Consolidation and monopolization hurts the quality of the games made just as much as it hurts those involved in making them.
silentbogo
Are you smoking the same shit that Vayra86 has?
Steam sales are on an opt-in basis. That's why you have different discount rates for different games, or some games not being discounted at all. Once again - voluntary, not mandatory.
partner.steamgames.com/doc/marketing/discounts
They might have changed their tune in recent years, but there have been plenty of stories of developers effectively being strong-armed into taking part in Steam Sales, with the entirety of the price cut coming out of their portion of revenue. There's also heaps of other shady practices such as detailed here. EGS is by no means perfect, but competition breeds better practices (as they then actually need to have arguments for why developers should come to them), which is better for the industry overall. I would obviously far prefer someone more sympathetic like GOG to be the real competitor to Steam, but that simply isn't realistic - they don't have the kind of power to convince a critical mass of people to choose them over Steam. EGS's use of exclusives is one of the very, very, very few ways of overcoming such an obstacle, as you need to force people out of their habits in order to break them. Never underestimate the power of convenience in terms of making people not only accept being treated poorly, but to like it. Steam and its deification by gamers is a perfect illustration of this.
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#44
Cr4zy
People are still really against a platform, when at the end of the day all you do is use it to buy and launch a game.

Most people are just gonna buy it where it's cheapest/most convenient and play. meanwhile everyone out here acting like it's the end of the world, no one seems to have even mentioned Tencent which was the big "oh no" when EGS launched, now it's "oh no" they give away free games to lure people in.
Posted on Reply
#45
DeathtoGnomes
So EGS latest free game is ARK:Evolved, a $50 game. The sad part I found out is that there is no mod support and supposedly no connection to steam servers. The game depends on Steam workshop to install mods automatically. This hurts modded games that are in EGS, some developers dont care it seems.
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#46
neatfeatguy
My take from Steam's botched UI upgrade - it's like they took every aspect of social media and worked on cramming all those features into every aspect of the UI and it hurts my eyes. The interface is still sluggish, games at times still fail to launch when you click on the "play" button and game crashes under the newer UI....8 months after the push out and the issues are still there. I haven't really utilized Steam much since their UI change for these reasons (and others). I basically use Steam for the voice chat if a game doesn't offer it for co-op play. I won't even purchase a Steam key off a 3rd party site anymore because I don't want the hassle of dealing with the UI because of the piss poor experience I've had with it.

I haven't tried EGS and probably never will, but they do have a lot of giveaways. If the giveaways are any kind of indication is that EGS continues to pound into the digital gaming community saying "Hey, we're here and look at what we are doing." Once people are getting used to launching EGS (if needed) to run their free games, they're going to be more likely to visit the store, even if they don't buy anything they're still looking and that's a win because folks are checking out EGS more and more.

I've personally moved to GoG - their Galaxy 2.0 is pretty solid, offers what I need and it's not intrusive. If I don't feel like having Galaxy 2.0 open when I play a game from GoG, it doesn't have to be.

I don't think EGS has hurt digital gaming sales - people will still purchase games they enjoy from the digital platform they prefer. EGS has offered some interesting games for free I'd like to play - but I have so many games already there's no point for me taking them up on the offer.
Posted on Reply
#47
ilyon
Valantar
And quite frankly what is the problem withe exclusives? Doesn't Steam have thousands of exclusives? Or do you find most Steam games on Uplay, Origin, and so on? No, I didn't think so.
I don't have any problem with the fact that Epic Games are on EGS, Ubisoft on Uplay, EA Games on Origin etc. I think you don't remember where the PC gaming market was at the end of 2000s.
Half-Life: Alyx is exclusive on Steam ? Normal. Fortnite is exclusive on EGS ? Normal. FIFA on Origin, etc ? Normal. But lots of indie studios gain their name with Steam. Was Steam greedy ? I'm quite sure about it. Was Steam a real help to them ? I'm quite sure too.
But stealing work done by creating a community, a game greenlit by Steam etc with the fake 30 % argument is a piece of junk.
PC market will have a new winter soon, before everyone will servily take his subscription on a service or another.
And our market will be another console market. Maybe we deserve this by our complete lack of political consumer sense.
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#48
kostaspyrkas
If course its good to have epic around...their prices are much better than steam(especially in sales) and they also brought a lot of playstation exclusives to pc... im sure steam never even bothered to make the deal. And the games it gives for free are usually games that are about to release an expansion or a sequel so a gamer trying the old one is possible to buy the new one and all benefits from that... i always thought that steam is something like skroutz...never liked them
Posted on Reply
#49
bew1977
Valantar
We needed someone with the power to challenge the entrenched de facto monopoly of Steam, which EGS has shown themselves as being capable of. And quite frankly what is the problem withe exclusives? Doesn't Steam have thousands of exclusives? Or do you find most Steam games on Uplay, Origin, and so on? No, I didn't think so. To break a monopoly that has cemented its position to such a degree that users actually like it (hello, Stockholm syndrome!), you need to force people out of it. Saying "hey, we're here too" won't help whatsoever when that just means that 99% of people will say "Ugh, another launcher to install, no thanks" and keep buying from Steam.
The difference between Steam and Epic when it comes to exclusives is Steam doesn't force the exclusivity. They don't seek out games and pay them to come to Steam. It's up to the dev to put the game up only on Steam. They are free to put the game on Steam and Epic (On Steams end at least. Epic was the one to say no to the dev that told them I don't want exclusivity, but I'll gladly put them on both) or Gog, Uplay or Origin. (In fact, EA just came back to dual sale games on Origin and Stam.

As for publishers having their own storefronts, the argument there is the exclusives are their own games. They are not going after third party games.
Posted on Reply
#50
lexluthermiester
Rahnak
Steam already has an offline mode.
That barely qualifies. Sure you can play offline for a few days at a time, but then you have to log in after a certain time limit. It's not really an "offline" mode if you're required to get online.
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