MechWarrior 5 recently announced a move to the Epic Store from Steam as a timed exclusive, and fans were predictably unhappy. Piranha Games studio president Russ Bullock held an AMA to assuage fears and answer the most burning questions fans had, most notably why the team decided to move to Epic.
Most of the AMA has been uploaded to a Soundcloud account, including comments made on the switch to Epic. Bullock says he wants to dispel a misconception that this is a short-sighted, "money grab" situation. In fact, according to Bullock, he feels MechWarrior 5 has a greater chance of being discovered away from the Steam platform.
"I really believe in the increased level of exposure and discoverability that the game would get from going to the Epic Game Store," Bullock says. The sheer volume of games on Steam makes it harder for games to pop, and Piranha Games seems to think it has a better chance of getting spotted on the Epic Games Store.
"It's a great platform and we've been using it, but the discoverability on there is very, very difficult," Bullock says. "MechWarrior Online has... you fall off the front page within moments, essentially, and it's really hard. There are plenty of articles out there right now, and kind of a growing sentiment among smaller developers that, with 150 games being released a week or something like that, it's really extremely difficult to know if your game is getting seen by players."
As Bullock puts it, MechWarrior 5 can sit on the front page for weeks, and that would drive more eyes to it. Couple in the traffic being driven by other big name exclusives like Borderlands 3, and that's a lot of people looking at your game that may have missed it in the flood of new Steam releases.
Discoverability is a known issue on Steam, as evidenced by recent tools launched to help users sift through new releases to find the games they're looking for. And Piranha Games is offering a refund to users who might want one now, much like Shenmue 3.
Alongside discoverability, Bullock cites the revenue split as another motivating factor. On the Steam platform, 5% of revenue would have gone to Epic anyways for the Unreal Engine, and then a 30% cut to Valve. On the Epic Store, Epic only takes 12% total cut. MechWarrior 5 is being developed under license from Topps Company, so there's already a cut being taken; on Epic, the storefront burden is eased. It's a sentiment others, like Paradox chairman Fredrik Wester, have shared.
Bullock makes a pretty fair argument for getting MechWarrior 5, an already fairly niche game, out in front of the public's eye. Success like the kind seen by fellow mech combat game Battletech could mean, at this point, finding a way to get it in front of folks outside the devoted fanbase. We'll see how it pans out for Piranha Games when MechWarrior 5 launches on December 10.