There’s a war brewing in the video game industry, but for over a decade, Steam has been PC gaming’s de facto hub town.
PC gaming fans learned that the long-awaited Borderlands 3 would initially launch exclusively on the Epic Store.
Right now, Epic is attracting developers to its new store with a more favorable revenue sharing scheme and attracting users with free games and exclusives, but the store itself remains barebones.
Tantalizing developers with a generous 88% profit share (as opposed to Steam’s 70%), the Fortnite publisher nabbed exclusivity deals for some notable new games.
Steam parent company Valve has enjoyed enormous success as a game developer, thanks to titles like Half-Life, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota 2.
But the company’s main moneymaker has been Steam, an iOS App Store-like marketplace for PC games.
The Epic Store currently hosts about two dozen games, some unreleased, and some that will be exclusive to the platform for 12 months or longer, the Epic Games Store storefront starts strong.
Across the top, there is a banner featuring a free game and a notification saying that users will get another free game every two weeks.
For game developers, Steam has gone through a number of transformations that have earned it a polarizing reputation, namely around the ability to self-publish on the platform.
One Steam DRM feature that doesn’t get enough credit is Steam Family Sharing, which lets you share your entire library with up to five other Steam users, and authorize up to 10 devices.
|Feature||Steam||Epic Games Store|
|Mod distribution||Steam Workshop||No|
|Friends list and chat||Yes||Yes|
|Item trading||Steam Marketplace||No|
|Account sharing||Family Sharing||No|
|Streaming to other devices||Steam In-Home Streaming||No|
|Screenshot capture sharing||Yes||No|
Epic Games has proved a capable competitor to Steam by offering a series of timed exclusions including Metro, Exodus and Borderlands 3.
Steam was launched in 2003 as a one-in-one portal program to distribute patches and updates to all the various games put on by Valve Corporation. But the valve that was unknowingly made at the event was a stand-alone digital distribution hub. Not a game, but a platform from which the entire game can be sold.
The Epic Games Store does not provide any of those features and also puts the privacy of its users at risk. But this is not to say that Steam is not without problems. A 30% reduction was justified when Steam’s only competitor was a physical videogame store taking a 50% margin cut.
Can’t I have both?
What does this bear in common with a comprehensive Steam profile and library for gamers who want to play Metro Exodus or some other now-epic-exclusive title? The answer, in fact, as it turns out: is no more than a few clicks, plus two different shortcuts on the desktop in a separate launcher.
It is not that either the gaming consumer has to spend any money, or anything, in fact, other than the inconvenience of setting up a second profile and managing two separate accounts.
There is no doubt that Epic will work on these features, but at this point, it is very likely that special games on the store will suffer due to its underdeveloped status. Epic has probably achieved the financial security of developers by now, and we should not forget about the 18% additional deduction for developers, but if these games are falling into the hands of fewer gamers, everyone loses.