Over the past few days, Valve's Steam store has been looking quite unfriendly to the independent developer. First, there was the news about new revenue split rules, which change the revenue cut percentages once a game sells above certain thresholds. Many smaller devs contend this is aimed purely at major publishers. The second problem was a bug in Steam's visibility algorithm. First reported by Jake Birkett of Grey Alien Games, the bug saw many indie launches not appearing on the Steam storefront or discovery queues during the October sale.
It's into these tumultuous waters that Epic Games is attempting to offer a lighthouse for developers. The company today announced the Epic Games Store, a new digital storefront for game releases. The Epic Games Store is planning to launch on PC and Mac with a "hand-curated set of games", but will be expanding with more titles in 2019.
"For the past five years, we've been building tools enabling Epic to bring our games directly to players. We built the Epic Games launcher on PC and Mac featuring Fortnite and Unreal Engine; we built a worldwide digital commerce ecosystem supporting dozens of payment methods; and we gained great economies of scale thanks to Fortnite's growth. As developers ourselves, we wanted two things: a store with fair economics, and a direct relationship with players. And we've heard that many of you want this too!" said Epic Games in its announcement post.
The key selling point of the Epic Games Store is the revenue split. Developers receive 88 percent of the revenue, while Epic Games takes 12 percent. There are no tiers, and the split remains the same whether you're developing with Unreal Engine or Unity. (Currently, Epic Games takes a cut of some Unreal Engine-developed games on Valve's platform.)
Epic will also be expanding its Fortnite Support-A-Creator program to the Epic Games Store. The program allows YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and others to receive a share of the revenue when players buy games based on their content. Epic will be covering the first 5 percent of creator revenue-sharing for the first 24 months.
Players who purchase games on the Epic Games Store will automatically be subscribed to those games' newsfeeds, so developers can reach out directly to their audience. In addition, game pages are developer-controlled, with no marketing pointing to other titles. Already, developers are starting to comment on Epic's store offering.
Summary of the flurry of games store news for devs this week: You'd have to earn a revenue of 50 million dollar USD on Steam or more to get 'just' a 15% worse deal with them than Epic Store would give you no matter what your game earns.— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) December 4, 2018
If Epic can launch their store and then spend the next 4-6 years cultivating it, then yeah they could be a Steam killer within the next decade! But what’s more likely to happen is that they’ll get bored and move onto something else (feel free to quote tweet this in several years)— Mike Rose (@RaveofRavendale) December 4, 2018
Will be interesting to see how Fortnite's (and the Epic Store's initial customer base's) demographics will affect customer taste, particularly on smaller & more leftfield games vs. Steam. pic.twitter.com/endXwAwLUU— jess (@oysterFAKE) December 4, 2018
Epic Games is announcing more details at The Game Awards on Thursday, December 6, 2018.