Despite the ongoing unpopularity of Epic Games store exclusives within some corners of the internet, the company’s CEO is standing up to defend them. In a lengthy Twitter post last night, Tim Sweeney says that he believes that exclusives work, and have the power to change the industry for the better.
During a discussion beneath a tweet about GOG Galaxy 2.0, Sweeney was asked why Epic resorted to paid exclusives. In response, he said that Epic “believes exclusives are the only strategy that will change the 70/30 status quo at a large enough scale to permanently affect the whole game industry.”
Sweeney says that while independent storefront have been doing “great work” for years, “none seem to have reached 5% of Steam’s scale.” He goes on to say that “this leads to the strategy of exclusives which, though unpopular with dedicated Steam gamers, do work, as established by the major publisher storefronts and by the key Epic Games store releases compared to their former Steam revenue projections and their actual console sales.”
The Epic CEO also points out that Steam’s 70/30% revenue split “is a disastrous situation for developers and publishers alike.” As a result, “if the Epic strategy either succeeds in building a second major storefront for PC games with an 88/12 revenue split, or even just leads other stores to significantly improve their terms, the result will be a major wave of reinvestment in game development and a lowering of costs.”
For example, after years of great work by independent stores (excluding big publishers like EA-Activision-Ubi), none seem to have reached 5% of Steam’s scale. Nearly all have more features than Epic; and the ability to discount games is limited by various external pressures.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) June 26, 2019
At the end of the thread, Sweeney says that “I believe this approach passes the test of ultimately benefiting gamers,” but that we’ll need to wait for major storefronts to rebalance, and for developers to “reinvest more of [the] fruits of their labour into creation rather than taxation.”
Sweeney’s suggestion that exclusives are working out seems to be met by reports from developers themselves. Just this week, World War Z developer Saber Interactive confirmed that the Epic store was its leading digital distributor. Earlier this year, Metro Exodus’ developer revealed that as an Epic exclusive, their game had sold more than double what the previous entry managed on Steam. There’s still work to do, but Sweeney seems to think he’s on the right track.