"I Was Saved By an [Epic Games Store] Exclusivity Deal," Says Indie Dev

"I Was Saved By an [Epic Games Store] Exclusivity Deal," Says Indie Dev

Who sells out to whom?

The Epic Games Store exclusivity drama continues as recently a successful indie developer promised not to "sell [their] souls" to get on the Epic Games Store. Now one dev says that this feeling isn't universal as they say they were "saved" by an Epic exclusivity deal.

Indie developer Gwen Frey is working on a puzzle game called Kine all by themselves. "I was a struggling solo indie dev making a passion project," Frey says in a tweet. "I was about to sell out to a publisher so I could hire artists and finish my game properly. But I didn't, because I was saved by an Epic exclusivity deal."

The response came after fallout from a recent comment by Re-Logic's vice president Whitney Spinks, who tweeted, "No Re-Logic title will ever be an Epic Store exclusive. There is no amount of money we could be offered to sell our souls." Re-Logic is the developer behind popular 2D builder game Terraria.

This kicked off a discussion about what it means for smaller developers to join up with Epic as part of an exclusivity deal. One Twitter user, whom Frey responds to directly in their tweet, suggested that Epic exclusivity was "definitely selling your soul, because there's not been a single struggling dev that's actually gotten one."

Frey counts themselves as said "struggling dev." Frey posted an early teaser for Kine prior to the Epic exclusive deal to show how much the deal helped her game. "I made this game and cut together this trailer myself. I'm proud of it, but it was a massive amount of work for one person, and I didn't have funds to work too much longer on it[.]"

Frey then posted a GIF of Kine as it is today, with smoother visuals. "I got the exclusivity deal, had time/space to work on my game longer & hired a few contract artists. Now Kine looks like this[.]"

Epic's practice of getting exclusive games to launch on its online PC store has angered some PC gamers. Titles like The Division 2, Metro Exodus, Borderlands 3, and more have already announced exclusivity deals with Epic, and some customers say it's an underhanded marketing tactic.

While Epic says it can't pursue exclusive contracts indefinitely, publishers seem to like Epic's more generous revenue share compared to Steam, and Epic says it won't turn away devs interested in signing with the store exclusively.

In reality, there's no one right way to market a game. Warren Spector recently revealed that he's eagerly looking for a publishing partner for System Shock 3, while Frey sees signing to a publisher as selling out. Regardless, there still seems to be some level of discomfort with Epic's aggressive pursuit of signing games exclusively to the Epic Games Store.

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Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

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