The Epic Games store has been up and running for more than a year now, and it’s sparked no end of controversy: thanks to Epic’s approach to courting developers with lucrative exclusivity deals, many PC gamers have looked at Epic as a threat. But Valve’s Gabe Newell says stores competing with Steam is actually a healthy thing – it’s Apple that’s the greater concern.
In a wide-ranging interview that appears in Edge #344, Newell discusses the way Valve looks at what Steam does, as well as its place in the digital marketplace. From Newell’s perspective, Epic’s store does something comparable to Steam, and that competition makes both storefronts better.
“Competition is great,” Newell said. “That’s why we love the PC platform, everybody has to compete on a wide variety of dimensions. Competition in game stores is awesome for everybody. It keeps us honest, it keeps everybody else honest.”
That doesn’t mean it’s an altogether pleasant experience, however. Newell allows that competition is “ugly” in the short-term. “You’re like, ‘Argh, they’re yelling, they’re making us look bad,'” he said. “But in the long term, everybody benefits from the discipline and the thoughtfulness it means you have to have about your business by having people come in and challenge you.”
Steam first launched in 2003, and thus has quite a bit of lead time on the Epic Games store, which still is missing a lot of features players have come to expect thanks to Steam – chat, achievements, and user reviews still haven’t arrived on Epic’s store, although new features like wishlists and library view options have recently shipped.
Newell went on to say that Apple’s retail model is the one he’s more concerned about.
“We get a lot more freaked out not by competition, but by people trying to preclude competition,” he said. “If you ask us which is scarier, it’s people who are falling in love with Apple’s model of controlling everything and having faceless bureaucrats who get to keep your product from entering the market if they don’t want it to … That’s way scarier to us than competitors.”