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?

#51
NRANM
lexluthermiester
but then you have to log in after a certain time limit.
Wait, you do?!

In any case, people seem to always forget or purposefully omit that the exclusives are temporary, and that all exclusive games eventually arrive on Steam (and GOG). Granted, it is technically an inconvenience not being able to play a game at release if it is not released on a store you like, but is it really that enormous of a problem to wait? Putting aside the fact that nobody is prevented in any way from simply purchasing the game on the Epic Games Store and playing, so many people mention their huge catalog of games, one would think they could easily find something to play while waiting for the exclusive game to not be exclusive any more.

Alright, you you hate store-exclusive games due to moral/ethical reasons (because there are no practical ones, apart from nitpicks), but instead of refusing to support Epic quietly, you have to announce to the everyone around you how ethical and moral you are because you are boycotting the Epic Games Store. Meanwhile (and this will probably come off a bit harsh), sane/normal gamers simply purchase the games they want to play (even if they are store-exclusive), and enjoy themselves.

It is fascinating to me how to some people using the stores is more important than actually playing the games. It reminds me of the audio world, where normal people use audio equipment to listen to music, whereas audiophiles seem to use music to listen to their audio equipment.
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#52
zapster
Several stores has exclusives, moot point. To boycott just because you are too lazy to write down another password is beyond stupid, I know 15 passwords in my head even, which is no problem because I have an IQ over 40.
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#53
Rahnak
lexluthermiester
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.
To be honest I don't have a lot of experience with it, I've had to use it maybe 3 times total? And not for longer than a few hours at most. What is the interval between Steam's need to "phone home" anyway? Does anybody know?

I'm pretty sure I've used it when Steam's servers were down though, @NRANM. Doesn't really make a ton of sense otherwise. Maybe you experienced a bug?
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#54
Valantar
ilyon
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.
Wait, stealing? Seriously? EGS is paying developers to sell their games exclusively, either permanently or for a limited time. A developer owns their own game, as it is ultimately their work that has created the game in the first place. Sure, the community can provide a great deal of input, feedback, and invaluable testing, but they do not make the game, nor do they own it - the developer does. Deals like EGS's exclusivity deals removesa great deal of uncertainty for developers that have likely invested every cent they have plus loans and "investments" (typically loans by another name) yet have no guarantee that the game will sell at all. An EGS exclusivity deal can as such be a great help to smooth out the troubled post-launch period for any game that isn't a massive AAA franchise with guaranteed income.

You're welcome to think that moving a game off the platform where it spent its early access period is unfair to the community, and I can agree with you on that, but ultimately, the developer is the one with something on the line, and must as such do what they think is best for their continued operation and the success of the game. After all, it's rather detrimental for a game - even an offline, single-player one - if the developer goes under due to lackluster sales, and stops providing bug fixes and feedback, right? As for Steam's role in situations like this - they (barely!) built a framework for others to work within, and by virtue of their first mover advantage and dominant market position came with a built-in community. As for Steam Greenlight and similar features - most of those have been entirely community driven, with near zero input or effort from Valve. The amount of work Steam has done for community building is the absolute minimum expected, and their most recent moves are of course to pull back even more, trying to appear "neutral" in various situations while in reality just trying to not piss anyone off. While Steam was indeed the first viable online game distribution platform, gamers don't owe Steam anything. We have already paid them billions of dollars for the privilege.

There's no doubt that Steam by virtue of enabling digital distribution of games, and over time also other useful features, has enabled a lot of cool things in gaming. But taking this as meaning we owe them some sort of debt is fundamentally flawed logic. Steam has a long history of only giving back to both gamers and developers when they absolutely need to, and not a second earlier. They are notoriously slow, conservative, and hands-off in almost any situation. Sure, they have been first with a lot of features, like cloud saves, remote play, and so on, but again, pretty much all of this is just because they are the biggest. And, of course, because they have a massive cash hoard due to the massive margins they demand on anything they sell. Acting like gamers should be thankful to Steam and should somehow be loyal to them is an absurd idea.
bew1977
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.
You either don't understand how market forces work, or you're one of those fundamentally naive free-market liberalists who don't believe in real-world market forces to begin with, because otherwise, what you're saying makes no sense whatsoever. Steam doesn't need to enforce any type of exclusivity, as they have >90% of the online games market. For all intents and purposes, before EGS any game that was sold on Steam was exclusive to steam in terms of sales. No other platform could compete whatsoever. This is how monopolies work, after all: through sheer size, momentum, mindshare and presence they force smaller actors out of the market entirely. They don't need to fight dirty (though they very, very frequently do, as Steam has a long history of doing), as they can just squeeze out any competition.

EGS's position is diametrically opposite from Steam's, and they must thus be judged by the context of their actions. Steam is an entrenched monopoly that has near-complete control over the gaming market. EGS wanted to be an alternative to this, yet started from scratch. Do you think EGS would have moved the needle even slightly if they just showed up and said "Hey, we have a games store too!"? Again: if you believe that, you are frighteningly naive. EGS needed something to make people notice them and force complacent customers to actually look other places than Steam for a game they wanted. After all, if you're used to buying all your games on Steam, do you google a game when you're looking to buy it? No, you search Steam for it, and thus buy it from Steam even if there are seven other stores also selling it. That is how Steam maintains its captive audience, through a feedback loop. I'll gladly admit that (timed or not) exclusives are a bit of a dirty tactic, but it isn't one that hurts consumers whatsoever (how would that hurt us? It's not like we're barred from buying or playing the game, nor like it becomes more expensive ...), and it helps developers. For that kind of fight, tactics like that aren't just useful, they are a fundamental necessity. I also fully expect them to disappear entirely if EGS ever reaches a market share even remotely comparable to Steam. But as long as Steam maintains its >90% market share, something more than saying "we also exist, plz buy from us!" is necessary.

And yes, even "dirty" tactics like this benefit gamers and developers both. The only ones losing out here are Valve and Epic - the former by (hopefully!) slowly losing their role as de-facto games monopolist, and the latter by draining their coffers to fight Valve. That is a type of fight in which everyone that matters wins, and I hope it continues on.
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#55
Razrback16
EGS should have led with the free games / pro-consumer stuff instead of antagonistic comments from Sweeney and exclusives. If they had, I would have been willing to give them a chance. But since I am not a fan of the type of exclusivity stuff they've gotten into, I will never buy anything there.

As far as long-term helped or hindered, probably depends on perspective. Exclusives mean publishers / devs get paid up front which has several effects - obviously the publisher is happy - they just got paid regardless of the quality of the product which is a positive for them, but they are less likely to fix bugs and have overall less incentive to release a quality game when sales are already guaranteed at launch. Exclusives also mean a smaller overall consumer base with a likely increase in piracy. So, lots of variables.
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#56
Fatalfury
But we cant deny that Epic's Free Games is good for millions of players in someway or the other(in Developing Countries.)
the free GTA V surely pulled in some traffic to them.
Steam is good but only their region pricing and Steam Sales are their plus point. but yea its become monopoly.
But Epic has done a good thing which can even lower piracy to some extent.
why pirate it when they give it for free. and game devs get benifited via deal with epic store.
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#57
AusWolf
Launchers only add complexity - not value IMO. Steam has made me sort of like it throughout the years, and I also use Origin and GOG Galaxy because I have no other choice. Free games or not, I'm not interested in running a million different pieces of junkware in the background just to keep my games sorted.

Basically I don't care what a new launcher offers; I don't need it, and I don't want it. I want games and games only. Period.
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#58
jmcslob
R0H1T
Free games are nice, everything else ~ not so much.
This right here.
Epic needs a "Big Picture" mode and an "Alternative" game launcher for other platforms.
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#59
Dave65
I must be lost or something, what is all the hate fore EPIC?
I use them for the free games and buy some, but most of my purchases are on STEAM. Someone please explain the problem with EPIC?
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#60
AusWolf
Dave65
I must be lost or something, what is all the hate fore EPIC?
I use them for the free games and buy some, but most of my purchases are on STEAM. Someone please explain the problem with EPIC?
As for me, I don't hate Epic. I simply disapprove of the idea of having to install and/or run multiple instances of any kind of software that are meant for the same purpose.
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#61
SamuelL
I despise Epic. Not for creating an opposing/rival storefront to steam - I like Valve’s games as much as the next person but I am no Steam fanboy. I pay the lower price between Steam, GOG, and (rarely) Origin/Ubi. I don’t dislike Epic for having a more basic platform. Not even for their ties to Tencent (though that does give me pause).

No, I hate Epic because of the **** exclusivity agreements with developers. That stifles price competition and does nothing to help consumers. Ideally, the marketplaces should compete on price, features, ease of use, etc. Instead of this, Epic’s approach is to give us a platform lacking much basic functionality while locking games into exlusivity agreements that drastically limit future price competition. This is the sort of thing that could lead to higher prices for new games and fewer protections for customers - after all, why make concessions on price or offer “no reason” refunds if your store is the only one that can carry a given product?

TL,DR - Exclusivity agreements harm PC gaming overall.
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#62
BSim500
AusWolf
I also use Origin and GOG Galaxy because I have no other choice.
I have over 200 games on GOG and have never used or downloaded Galaxy once. Just download the "Backup Offline Installers" instead.
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#63
AusWolf
BSim500
I have over 200 games on GOG and have never used or downloaded Galaxy once. Just download the "Backup Offline Installers" instead.
I do that sometimes, but haven't managed to make The Witcher 3 work that way for some reason.

Despite of what I just said, GOG have my maximum respect, because with them you actually own the games you buy - with the right to copy and share them.
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#64
Razrback16
BSim500
I have over 200 games on GOG and have never used or downloaded Galaxy once. Just download the "Backup Offline Installers" instead.
Yep I love GOG. They are my #1 storefront. Steam is #2.

When a game comes out I want to play, I check GOG and if it's not there, I check Steam. If it's not there, either, then I hop on a boat. Publishers really should follow the CD Projekt Red example and just sell their games everywhere so people can just buy it where they want. GOG is best for me as the games have no DRM, do not require a launcher, and they have the best pro-consumer refund policy of all the storefronts. Happy to buy games there.
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#65
AusWolf
Razrback16
Yep I love GOG. They are my #1 storefront. Steam is #2.

When a game comes out I want to play, I check GOG and if it's not there, I check Steam. If it's not there, either, then I hop on a boat. Publishers really should follow the CD Projekt Red example and just sell their games everywhere so people can just by it where they want. GOG is best for me as the games have no DRM, do not require a launcher, and they have the best pro-consumer refund policy of all the storefronts. Happy to buy games there.
Same here, except that I check Steam first because I somehow accumulated most of my games there.
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#66
Dave65
AusWolf
As for me, I don't hate Epic. I simply disapprove of the idea of having to install and/or run multiple instances of any kind of software that are meant for the same purpose.
That makes sense, I don't like that either.
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#67
Razrback16
AusWolf
Same here, except that I check Steam first because I somehow accumulated most of my games there.
Ya, I'm in the same situation - I have probably 70% of my game library on Steam, ~20% on physical media, and then 5-10% in other areas. I just started using GOG pretty heavily in the last couple months and as soon as I saw the offline installer option, I was like HELL. YES. This is my new storefront of choice. I don't do business with Epic under any circumstances and outright refuse to create an account there. I'd rather pay for a game at another storefront than get it for free at Epic.
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#68
ilyon
Dave65
I must be lost or something, what is all the hate fore EPIC?
I use them for the free games and buy some, but most of my purchases are on STEAM. Someone please explain the problem with EPIC?
EGS per se is not a problem, a new player in the game is good to see: people like me are complaining about the "exclusivities" policy and for me, stealing work done on Steam platform during devlopment. Valantar disagrees with me about this, but to-day, an indie game is also "made" (sort of) by community, channels, streamers, etc. and Steam helps developers in this way (speaking with knowledge about one of them: Dead Cells, and loving the clear policy of Motion Twin on the subject, a bit of publicity for them.)
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#69
Rahnak
SamuelL
I despise Epic. Not for creating an opposing/rival storefront to steam - I like Valve’s games as much as the next person but I am no Steam fanboy. I pay the lower price between Steam, GOG, and (rarely) Origin/Ubi. I don’t dislike Epic for having a more basic platform. Not even for their ties to Tencent (though that does give me pause).

No, I hate Epic because of the **** exclusivity agreements with developers. That stifles price competition and does nothing to help consumers. Ideally, the marketplaces should compete on price, features, ease of use, etc. Instead of this, Epic’s approach is to give us a platform lacking much basic functionality while locking games into exlusivity agreements that drastically limit future price competition. This is the sort of thing that could lead to higher prices for new games and fewer protections for customers - after all, why make concessions on price or offer “no reason” refunds if your store is the only one that can carry a given product?

TL,DR - Exclusivity agreements harm PC gaming overall.
Sure, because EGS hasn't done any discounts on their exclusive games. And they're the ones setting the prices. Yup.

They also have refunds, FYI.

Basically you despise Epic for, in your words, doing something that could lead to higher prices, but in the year and half they've existed, hasn't happened at all.
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#70
bew1977
Valantar
They don't need to fight dirty (though they very, very frequently do, as Steam has a long history of doing), as they can just squeeze out any competition.
Examples of this? Genuinely curious. I pay little attention to the Valve side of things.
Valantar
Do you think EGS would have moved the needle even slightly if they just showed up and said "Hey, we have a games store too!"?
Quite frankly, in the overall scheme of things I don't think the needle has moved much with the tactics they have employed. I'd really love some hard numbers on sales Epic actually does and game sale comparisons of prior exclusives that have been released on steam. As I said before, I get why dev's take the Epic deal. It's how some have acted after taking it that turns me off.
Valantar
After all, if you're used to buying all your games on Steam, do you google a game when you're looking to buy it? No, you search Steam for it, and thus buy it from Steam even if there are seven other stores also selling it.
There is where you are wrong. I will open the store page to see trailers/reviews/discussions and in another tab have isthereanydeal open. Of the 1200 games I own on Steam, I'd wager less than 500 I've actually purchased through steam. Many of those before learning of things like Humble Bundle and other storefronts existing. Not shopping around when you have a myriad of storefronts competing for your business is how you put it, incredibly naive.

Let me get this on the table: other than exclusives, I bear no hate for Epic. I do, however, think their store isn't worth using right now beyond their free game giveaways. Trying to browse their store is difficult, there are a ton of Quality of Life features that should have been implemented day 1 that still aren't there. (Not even including the shopping cart, which I think is Epic just trying to meme by this point) The launcher itself is very barebones and not useful in the slightest. It all just feels like a 5 year old putting on his dad's clothes and trying to sit at the adult's Thanksgiving Poker game. "I can sell games too!" it exclaims, while throwing play money on the table.

Tim Sweeny can suck a fat one though.
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#71
Vayra86
beedoo
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...
Alright, well, just trying to help a brother out :)

I must admit I don't use it a whole lot, still just have a few shortcuts on desktop of whatever I'm playing at the time. Yes, some launcher does stuff and popups appear, then I can play.

Its a non issue
Rahnak
Sure, because EGS hasn't done any discounts on their exclusive games. And they're the ones setting the prices. Yup.

They also have refunds, FYI.

Basically you despise Epic for, in your words, doing something that could lead to higher prices, but in the year and half they've existed, hasn't happened at all.
Realistically the average sale price of new games is closer to MSRP for a longer time for most of what appears on EGS. You can also see it in the price of grey market keys. They barely ever drop below EGS normal pricing.

But, that is a good thing. Effectively, EGS has a stronger hold on key distribution (its not the free for all that you have on Steam with keys and gifts flying all over the place, regional sales, etc.) and this echoes in the price point. They kind of placed the illegal key sellers out of the market as well. Win? For publishers it most certainly is.
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.
This needs to be fixed ASAP. And is indeed entirely up to publishers/devs.

I guess this is a way to boost single player gaming, even if a bit under the belt? I'm not opposed to that...
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#72
kapone32
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.
I would agree with this statement but it's 2020 and I doubt GOG cares about EGS with Cyberpunk 2077 coming. Outside of EGS free games Humble Choice is the best way to build a library today. For the end user EGS, Steam, GOG and EGS are all inert for the end user as they all do that same thing. I will say though that suddenly Steam updated it's GUI. One question I always ask is where is the technical support for Steam and for that matter why is EGS not smart enough to find your library if it's on a different disc after a reset. I also know personally thanks to EPIC I will be getting Total War Sagas Troy for free.
AusWolf
Launchers only add complexity - not value IMO. Steam has made me sort of like it throughout the years, and I also use Origin and GOG Galaxy because I have no other choice. Free games or not, I'm not interested in running a million different pieces of junkware in the background just to keep my games sorted.

Basically I don't care what a new launcher offers; I don't need it, and I don't want it. I want games and games only. Period.
that is an obtuse statement
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#73
Vayra86
ilyon
EGS per se is not a problem, a new player in the game is good to see: people like me are complaining about the "exclusivities" policy and for me, stealing work done on Steam platform during devlopment. Valantar disagrees with me about this, but to-day, an indie game is also "made" (sort of) by community, channels, streamers, etc. and Steam helps developers in this way (speaking with knowledge about one of them: Dead Cells, and loving the clear policy of Motion Twin on the subject, a bit of publicity for them.)
Publicity on Steam... yes... both blessing and curse, that. Not too long ago indie devs were complaining about their visibility on Steam compared to big budget franchises. Steam has a problem. It has too god damn much content, and a crapload of it is of awful quality. Curation is non existant.

So what Steam does for those indie pubs, is increase the bar for visibility. If everyone gets to scream out, nobody gets heard. And don't you see this yourself? There is so much advertising, so many streamers and influencers, its easy to get lost in the woods entirely and miss most of it.

This also speaks to a greater purpose in terms of advertising. Less is more in a world of information overload. But that is a trend you will never see.
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#74
kapone32
I honestly feel that there should be more uniformity. b
Vayra86
Publicity on Steam... yes... both blessing and curse, that. Not too long ago indie devs were complaining about their visibility on Steam compared to big budget franchises. Steam has a problem. It has too god damn much content, and a crapload of it is of awful quality. Curation is non existant.

So what Steam does for those indie pubs, is increase the bar for visibility. If everyone gets to scream out, nobody gets heard. And don't you see this yourself? There is so much advertising, so many streamers and influencers, its easy to get lost in the woods entirely and miss most of it.

This also speaks to a greater purpose in terms of advertising. Less is more in a world of information overload. But that is a trend you will never see.
I honestly feel Humble Choice is the real curator for Steam Games.
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#75
milewski1015
I use EGS mainly for the free games. I've only spent money on two games through their storefront: Borderlands 3 on launch day (which was not nearly as fun as BL2 IMO, felt more like a BL2 DLC almost, but that discussion is for another day) and Control during the recent mega sale they had going on (which I thoroughly enjoyed). I'm mainly concerned with getting the best deal. A majority of the games I "own" are on Steam, but that's mainly because they were purchased there before I started shopping around, or that's just where the game I purchased through a third party activates. I use gg.deals almost daily looking for anything decent on a good sale. My friends and I mainly use Steam for it's voice chat functionality, but have been making use of discord more and more as of late on account of the continued issues we have with it (mainly dropping out of group chats/disconnecting in the middle of a game for seemingly no reason). I've downloaded GOG Galaxy and have connected my accounts, but haven't yet broken the habit of just launching the games from their respective launcher.

I appreciate the free games from EGS, although a majority of them, especially the smaller titles, are just added to my account and then left untouched for the foreseeable future. As others have mentioned, although the EGS UI is simpler than Steam's, it lacks features that I deem essential - achievements, user review, shopping cart, etc. It also can be clunky to use. However, Steam's UI I find very cluttered and filled with things I don't make use of (marketplace, community, etc.). I guess it all just points to GOG Galaxy. Will have to make a habit out of using that instead.
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