If Epic Vs Steam Is To Be A PR War, Epic's Boss Just Issued A Brilliant Retaliatory Strike

from the your-move,-steam dept

Things are getting interesting. For the past few months, we've been discussing the emergence of a new player in the digital games distribution business, in which Valve's Steam platform has been dominant for roughly a decade. Epic Games' platform has begun gobbling up new AAA game releases, signing them to 6 month exclusivity deals. Those deals have generally angered the majority of gamers, leading to the kind of review-bombing of already-released titles on Steam that Valve has previously pledged to prevent.

It has appeared for all the world that a new era of game exclusivity has begun in the PC gaming space. This is not a development that gamers like. Nobody wants to find out that a PC game that by nature cannot be hardware exclusive has suddenly become distributor exclusive. But even as the outrage has grown, most have seen this as a business model competition, with Epic trying to ramp up its user numbers by signing these deals, which themselves are signed by offering developers a flat 88% of the revenue generated, whereas Steam only offers anywhere from 70%-80%.

The majority of reports are somewhat slanted to make Epic the bad guy in all of this. After all, it is the one introducing exclusivity into the industry. In that light, this is as much a PR battle as a business battle. And if that's true, then Epic boss Tim Sweeney just fired off one of the great PR counterattacks the gaming industry has ever seen.

Last night, Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney tweeted that his company would end its controversial exclusivity agreements if Steam raised its revenue cut for developers. It’s a strong statement, even if there are reasons to be skeptical of Sweeney’s position.

“If Steam committed to a permanent 88% revenue share for all developers and publishers without major strings attached,” Sweeney wrote, “Epic would hastily organize a retreat from exclusives (while honoring our partner commitments) and consider putting our own games on Steam.”

It's brilliant messaging for a number of reasons. First, it further solidifies Epic's position as the more pro-developer distribution partner. After all, the message here is that Epic isn't only looking out for developers on its platform, but it's trying to better the take for developers on Steam as well. That isn't a message that will be lost on game companies. Second, it's a direct response to the gamer community. It says, "Hey, you love games, we love games, and we all need the people who make them to do well. All we're trying to do is make the gaming industry such that there is more incentive to release more games." That too is a powerful message, even if all of this is a bluff, with Epic assuming Valve is never going to bow to its demands.

And it's worth pointing out one other thing in all of this as well. While many in the gaming industry scream about how too many gamers just want everything for free and that piracy is ruining the industry, this message only works if there is a healthy ecosystem of gamers willing to pay for games. Were piracy to be the death-threat to the industry as we so often hear, these platform wars would be entirely irrelevant.

Again, this could be all a bluff designed to make Epic look good. But if it is, Sweeney is a particularly skilled poker player.

In a followup tweet, Sweeney wrote, “Such a move would be a glorious moment in the history of PC gaming, and would have a sweeping impact on other platforms for generations to come. Then stores could go back to just being nice places to buy stuff, rather than the Game Developer IRS.”

Again, this is fairly brilliant, and it's going to be interesting to see how Valve responds. Your move, Steam.

Filed Under: epic, platforms, pr war, steam, video games
Companies: epic games, valve


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 6:19pm

    Buy one bridge, get one free*!

    If anyone honestly thinks that Epic will just throw away what is at the moment their only real advantage should Steam call them on their bluff I've got some positively amazing bridges and/or lunar plots of land to sell them.

    Get rid of the exclusives and better cut for publishers/developers and Epic is left with a significantly subpar platform on the customer side, and a notably smaller customer-base on the publisher/developer side, putting things right back into the 'Why should I use/sell through Epic again?' stage. Bribing publishers and coercing buyers are basically all they have so far, there's no chance in hell they'd give that up, and while it would be nice to be proven wrong I do not expect to be in the slightest.

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    • identicon
      Michael, 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:30am

      Re: Buy one bridge, get one free*!

      'Why should I use/sell through Epic again?'

      First, why not? You get the same cut, don't have to sign an exclusive deal, and the "product" is digital. I will sell through every channel as long as it does not cost me more.

      The brilliance is Epic has a lot of content and the extra 8% on Steam probably makes up almost the entire difference in what they expect to lose from not have the exclusive deals. It's win-win for them and they come out looking like heroes to the gaming community and developers - which is worth a lot.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 8:20am

        Re: Re: Buy one bridge, get one free*!

        If there are no exclusives then sure, sell your game everywhere. But Valve could easily meet Epic halfway and win this "battle" soundly.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 8:18am

      Re: Buy one bridge, get one free*!

      Valve doesn't have to meet the exact numbers, just the spirit of the challenge to win this game. If they set their developer cut at, say, 85% then they would win out simply because their platform is so much better than Epic's. Nobody would sign an exclusive deal with Epic for 3% greater cut of a handful of players versus signing with Valve for "only" 85% of millions of players.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 7:50pm

    I 100% will not buy a game from Epic nor will I install their launcher. If it is game that is great and Epic has it as an exclusive, I will wait. Hell, I don't even like the fact that if I want to get a game, the best/easiest way is through Steam. I am old school, I loved the boxed game/artwork/anticipation of the install from disc/CD.

    What if the grocery store on the other side of town bought up all the steak and my close by store didn't sell steak anymore? Well I would drive to the new store and punch the manager in the face and ask him to stop being a dick. But I can't do that with some huge corporate digital bag of asshats that is Epic.

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    • identicon
      Michael, 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      Get off my lawn!!!

      I think all the steak is making you grumpy. Try an avocado or something.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      Well, it doesn't work with steak, but I have around five different grocery chains in my area, and each of them seems to have an exclusive distribution right on at least one product I buy regularly. For one of them, it's a 20 minute drive to get there to buy the popular product that nobody else sells.

      I haven't seen managers with black eyes anywhere.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 8:07pm

    Not agreeing with this. Epic is both a developer and a publisher/hoster of the storefront. To try and use this to force Steam, et al to meet their desired revenue goals feels very backhanded. Like the equivalent of taking not just your toys and going home, but every other toy from everyone else in the vicinity as well.

    One thing I think everyone agrees with: Exclusivity will backfire badly. Epic won't get more traffic from exclusives. Instead, Steam / GOG / other platform users will pirate. Techdirt brings this up all the time with movie release windows.

    Competition is desperately needed on Steam's monopoly. But this doesn't feel like competition. It feels like blackmail. Epic could give developers/publishers a higher revenue and leave it to them to decide where they'd like to publish. "Epic pays us more, so we're going to publish on Epic only!" Adding the exclusivity clauses is just underhanded.

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    • icon
      mhajicek (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:08pm

      Re:

      I'll just wait until it's on Steam. It will be debugged, reviewed, and cheaper by then.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:03am

        Re: Re:

        Plus it will have steam's built in forums for discussion, steam's matchmaking services, steam's mod workshop, steam's reviews, steam's social network, and any other value steam can add to help offset the fact that at heart it's a DRM system.

        Epic is DRM with much less to offset that.

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    • identicon
      bob, 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:19pm

      Re:

      Yeah I'm going to say go watch the Jimquisition on this topic. He lays out some of your points and many others for why this is a bad move in the long run for Epic.

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  • icon
    mrtraver (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 8:33pm

    I honestly don't get why people who buy games are so upset by Epic. So what if a game is exclusive to Epic or Steam or any other PC platform? There is no monetary cost to using another platform. Sure, it is annoying to have to have these and Origin and Uplay and Battle.net, but that's just a fact of 2019 digital distribution, whether or not games are exclusive. I shared, nay, wallowed in the outrage when Battlefield 3 required Origin to launch, but guess what? I got over it, and now I just enjoy the games regardless of platform.

    In the end, I do not see this as being bad for consumers. I am not naive enough to think the savings will be reflected in the sales prices, or that EA or Activision will reinvest the savings into game development, but that possibility does exist for smaller and indie developers/publishers.

    On a tangent, GOG Galaxy is optional, but I find myself using it anyway because it is easy to see all my GOG games in one place, and download or uninstall from there. And you can always use Playnite as a universal launcher. You still have to install those other launchers, but at least you can see all your games in one place.

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    • identicon
      dicey, 29 Apr 2019 @ 8:52pm

      Re:

      It's not just another launcher. The epic launcher is widely considered to be spyware

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:01pm

        Re: Re:

        It's also very lacking on features, with things like shopping carts not coming for several months, and is also considered very consumer unfriendly by allowing the publisher to decide if they want to allow comments on their products or not.

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      • icon
        mrtraver (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:22am

        Re: Re:

        Every launcher/client I mentioned above, including Steam, has been or is considered spyware by many. They do collect personal info, track what games you play and how long to play the, collect hardware info, and who knows what else they collect and report without full disclosure. That's unfortunately part of the price of the convenience of digital purchases.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:30am

        Re: Re:

        It’s not spyware, though. Somebody made stupid claims about it being spyware because they didn’t know how ProcMon worked. In this thread on Reddit, the user _Kai breaks down how the spyware claims are hilariously wrong:

        https://www.reddit.com/r/pcgaming/comments/b1fvqe/comment/eilczdg

        If you want to criticize Epic, then at least base your criticisms on actual facts rather than falsehoods.

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    • identicon
      ryuugami, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:00pm

      Re:

      I honestly don't get why people who buy games are so upset by Epic.

      Exclusives are not competition. Storefronts should compete on features, not on exclusive content.

      GOG competes with Steam just fine even without exclusives.

      BTW, if devs want to sell only on limited storefronts, that's fine. It's the platform pushing for it that is outright hostile to customers.

      The only thing this is going to accomplish is an uptick in piracy. So if that's the goal, good work, Epic!

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    • identicon
      Agammamon, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:14pm

      Re:

      So what if a game is exclusive to Epic or Steam or any other PC platform? There is no monetary cost to using another platform.

      1. There is only one 'pc platform'. This action is deliberately restricting access to on distribution channel.

      2. Imagine a new store comes in and buys up all the egg selling contracts. It is now the only store in town that sells eggs. Sure, it didn't raise the price of eggs and it pays more for them - so it makes less profit on the eggs it sells - but there is only one store in the whole town that sells eggs.

      3. There isn't a monetary cost but there is a resource and time cost. Its another program to run in the background if you want to keep apps up to date, its another email and password to keep track of, its another program with potential security vulnerabilities. Stuff like that. Its not 'free' of cost.

      4. It doesn't provide me any value. None at all. Not only is this distribution channel free of assets other than the ability to buy a limited number of games but ITS TAKING VALUE AWAY FROM ME AND REPACKAGING IT AS IF ITS DOING ME A FAVOR. These games are available anywhere absent the Epic store. Now they're only available through one channel. This is a net loss of utility to me.

      And I really don't appreciate someone taking a dump on my lunch and telling me that I'm now better off.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re:

        These games are available anywhere absent the Epic store. Now they're only available through one channel.

        Let’s be serious here: Most of these games, if they weren’t going to the Epic Store, were going to be purchased and/or played via Steam. You say “available anywhere”, and it’s true you can buy games from Humble or GMG, but most of the time it’s a Steam key you’re getting from those places.

        And that may very well be because the game is exclusive to Steam. I can’t get games like Sekiro, Devil May Cry 5, Street Fighter 5, or Monster Hunter: World on any other launcher; I’m forced to use Steam. If Metro Exodus or Borderlands 3 wasn’t exclusive to Epic, they would’ve been exclusive to Steam, maybe coming to GoG years later. These and other countless de facto exclusives that Steam has tilt the market in their favor.

        Anyway, the result of those key sales on Humble or GMG is that the ultimate benefactor is still Steam, since you’re still interacting with their ecosystem and building a library there, and therefore becoming a more locked-in consumer who’ll think twice about buying a game that’s not available on Steam.

        There’s GoG as well, with their DRM-free games, but given how they’ve failed to gain any sort of market share vs. Steam over the last decade or so (nor has GoG managed to get Steam to take a firm stance against developers using DRM such as Denuvo in the games they put on Steam), people would rather just use Steam and only Steam. That, and the de facto exclusives that Steam has where you have to use Steam, are a serious problem. Any competition, no matter how numerous or innovative their features or competitive their prices, will have to contend with an entrenched market giant with heavy network effects, user lock-in, and de facto third-party exclusives, that ensure that the odds stacked ludicrously high in their favor. You may hate Epic’s strategy of using timed exclusives to compete, but to be frank, that’s the only way I can see any competitor getting a significant market share in this sector.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And that may very well be because the game is exclusive to Steam.

          This is misleading. Steam doesn't require exclusives. If a game is only available on Steam it's because the publisher has chosen to offer it only on Steam for their own reasons.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 12:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I know that, and I’m not trying to mislead. That’s why I use the term “de facto exclusive” to refer to those games which could be available anywhere else on PC, but are only on Steam.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              bob, 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But even if being sold on Steam a dev will still try and sell through their own website if they have one. Exclusivity through epic blocks that.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Developers using their own games' site as a storefront with no middlemen seems to have fallen out of practice. Looking at the developers of some of the games in my Steam library, there's only one that's available direct with no strings attached. Developers don't "still try" to sell their games on their own; they've more or less given up on the idea and flocked to various middlemen, with Steam being the prevailing option.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:05pm

        Epic...

        ...misuse of "its", dude.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:15pm

      I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer friendly

      I honestly don't get why people who buy games are so upset by Epic

      'Hey, you know that game you were looking forward to playing? One that was advertised as being for sale on the platform you've already got an account on, a platform that has lots of features you quite enjoy? Yeah, it's no longer on there, and in fact won't be on there for half a year, and if you still want to play it when everyone else is you're going to have to get it through another platform that is substantially worse than the one you currently use, which is missing a whole bunch of features that you just take for granted like a freakin shopping cart, because the second platform bribed the publisher to lock down their game as an exclusive for six months.'

      Competing on features would be good for buyers, where you could choose where you want to buy from/what platform to use based upon which had features best fit to your wants and/or needs, but 'competing' by creating artificial scarcity and forcing people to either get what they want from a platform they otherwise wouldn't bother with or go without(or, you know, yarr!), especially when that process involves yanking games that were slated for their preferred platform and locking them into another one, is anything but buyer friendly.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:17am

        Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer friendl

        Well, I'm going to have to devil's advocate for Epic a bit here. Steam was the first digital distribution DRM platform to take off, which means it has a stranglehold on the market that takes incredible effort to break past. It's a natural monopoly.

        It's like if you want to take down facebook. You need a way to harvest enough of their users to build up your own ecosystem to a competitive level.

        Epic can't compete against that without dirty tricks, so dirty tricks is what they're using.

        That said, I will not be installing epic. I'll stick with steam for convenience and their additional features, and GOG because I respect and share their principles. Epic does not offer me enough value to overcome its inherent downsides.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:56pm

          Re: Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer fri

          It has a hell of a head start and good momentum with it's customer base, don't think anyone's going to argue against that, but a natural monopoly it is not.

          Offer a better platform for both game devs/publishers and customers and a competing platform could slowly but surely bleed Steam's customers away, as more and more people started buying from them instead. It would take a bit to be on the same level as Steam, but it would be entirely possible to manage if a company had the resources and willpower to do so.

          Epic doesn't have to use dirty tricks, they chose to.

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      • icon
        mrtraver (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 7:04pm

        Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer friendl

        "... forcing people to either get what they want from a platform they otherwise wouldn't bother with or go without.."

        Just like when Valve forced me to use Steam to play my boxed copy of Half-Life 2, right?

        I'm just saying Epic is not the only bad guy or even the worst guy. My favorite digital distribution platform is GOG: a web page that sells DRM-free downloads I can install anywhere, anytime, without using a proprietary launcher or storefront.

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        • identicon
          ryuugami, 30 Apr 2019 @ 7:25pm

          Re: Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer fri

          Just like when Valve forced me to use Steam to play my boxed copy of Half-Life 2, right?

          That's the developer/publisher choosing to limit the game to one platform/launcher. Besides, plenty of publishers already have their own launchers and/or storefronts.

          The complaints are about a distribution platform pushing for contractual exclusives with third-party devs.

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          • icon
            mrtraver (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 7:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer

            Agreed. But my point is Valve played dirty, too. Steam got so big because Valve made its use mandatory for a game that was highly anticipated, and it was a kick in the groin for those of us who had purchased a boxed disc then discovered we could not even do single player until downloading some crapware we had never heard of and had no desire to use (bonus kicks for those of us who were still on dial-up at the time). It was not a consumer-friendly move.

            Now Epic is trying something to jump-start their store, and everyone is freaking out about someone pissing on St. Steam.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:09pm

          Re: Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer fri

          Just like when Valve forced me to use Steam to play my boxed copy of Half-Life 2, right?

          You... do know that Valve owns Steam, right? There's a world of difference between a company wanting you to use their platform for their games, and one bribing third party companies and locking them down on that platform.

          I'm just saying Epic is not the only bad guy or even the worst guy.

          At the moment? Yeah, they are, unless you want to point to another platform that's bribing publishers in order to coerce potential buyers to use them instead of the platform they prefer, and that could have been the one that the game was advertised as being on before.

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          • icon
            CrushU (profile), 2 May 2019 @ 8:54am

            Re: Re: Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom customer

            At the moment? Yeah, they are, unless you want to point to another platform that's bribing publishers in order to coerce potential buyers to use them instead of the platform they prefer, and that could have been the one that the game was advertised as being on before.

            Steam. They bribe publishers to coerce them to use the Steam Store exclusively. It is literally the same thing.

            Every argument you've made against Epic's store can be equally applied to Steam's. The only difference I can see right now is that Epic requires developers to only sell on Epic's store sometimes, while Steam doesn't literally require it, but it ends up being effectively required because the vast, vast majority of people buying PC games online just go to Steam's store first because of the network effect.

            Right now, I'm only mad because my system tray has too many icons in it, now.

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            • icon
              XcOM987 (profile), 3 May 2019 @ 9:16am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: I'll give you a hint: Less choice is seldom cust

              Steam. They bribe publishers to coerce them to use the Steam Store exclusively. It is literally the same thing.

              Please provide examples, with verifiable proof of this.

              Every argument you've made against Epic's store can be equally applied to Steam's.

              Missing features - Steam No, Epic Yes.
              Scraping data - Steam No, Epic Yes.
              Pulling data from other launchers - Steam No, Epic Yes.
              Missing Reviews - Steam No, Epic Yes.
              Passes on additional costs rather than absorbing them, Steam No, Epic Yes.

              Please clarify which statements you are referring to.

              The only difference I can see right now is that Epic requires developers to only sell on Epic's store sometimes, while Steam doesn't literally require it, but it ends up being effectively required because the vast, vast majority of people buying PC games online just go to Steam's store first because of the network effect.

              That my friend is the power of the market, no one is forcing you to use Steam, publishers CHOOSE to use Steam because of it's user-base, yes there are things wrong with it but generally they are pro consumer, if a publisher chooses under their free will to sell only on Epic due to the revenue split, then that's fine, but bribing them is a whole other set of issues which is what Epic ended doing as it wasn't working as fast as they wanted when they tried to compete by revenue split.

              it's also worth noting that other sellers offer steam keys as Steam offers a free API for them to use to sell Steam keys on their own store front.

              Right now, I'm only mad because my system tray has too many icons in it, now.

              Probably the only accurate thing in your entire statement.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:08pm

      Re:

      Not avaiable in multiple region.
      The price is not cheaper, where Steam allow third party key seller.
      The Launcher and account is not safe event with 2FA

      And Epic is another one that treats their own team of developer terrible with terrible crunch time, so it's not for the developer, only the publisher are earning money

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    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 12:33am

      Re:

      I honestly don't get why people who buy games are so upset by Epic. So what if a game is exclusive to Epic or Steam or any other PC platform?

      You've just equated "PC" with "Windows" and that's exactly why I am upset. Epic only works on fucking Windows, and not on my PC which happens to run Linux.

      Bloody mainstream ignoramus.

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      • icon
        CrushU (profile), 2 May 2019 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re:

        It is incredibly likely that Epic-only games would have been Windows-only anyway.

        And if you aren't using WINE or some other Windows emulator on Linux to play games with, I'm very surprised.

        It's one of the few unequivocally good things Steam has done: Support Linux games development.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 12:55am

      Re:

      "There is no monetary cost to using another platform"

      You're assuming 2 things - first. that monetary costs are the only ones that matter. Second, that all being equal the monetary cost would be the same regardless of which platform is chosen. Neither of these is necessarily true.

      "On a tangent, GOG Galaxy is optional, but I find myself using it anyway because it is easy to see all my GOG games in one place, and download or uninstall from there."

      Which is your choice. If it were mandatory, some people would object for various very good reasons.

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    • icon
      Mike Read (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:20am

      Re:

      The big reasons for me are:

      • All my other games are on Steam
      • All my friends are on Steam
      • I'm familiar and comfortable with Steam
      • I trust the Steam application

      Epic is following EA with their Origin platform: it's spyware that dresses up as an honest platform, and lures victims with exclusivity. Hell Epic has been caught spying on your Steam traffic. Origin sleuths through your entire PC. They feel scummy to me, and the exclusive deals feel just as scummy as their applications.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:32am

      Re:

      "On a tangent, GOG Galaxy is optional, but I find myself using it anyway because it is easy to see all my GOG games in one place, and download or uninstall from there."
      Congratulations. You answered your own question.

      Fracturing platforms drives people back to piracy, which techdirt has already written on. There's also the fact that Epic's pro-developer stance seems driven entirely by contempt for consumers. The point of their platform seems to be to defang customers. Don't let them post reviews. Don't let them communicate with each other. Don't let them communicate with the developers. Their only purpose is to hand over money.

      I find that even more offensive than the bad platform, tbh.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2019 @ 2:45pm

      Re:

      "but that's just a fact of (how things are done currently)" is not an argument to recommend anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Grande and Cox, 29 Apr 2019 @ 8:44pm

    Nobody wants to find out that a PC game that by nature cannot be hardware exclusive has suddenly become distributor exclusive.

    Accurate description of steam right there. You want some games, well, only one distributor, like em' or not. The end result was it's either install steam or go piracy to play X. The end result was epic...is it's either install epic or go piracy to play Y.

    By distributor I mean the mechanism by which you receive the game, not the key resellers.

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    • identicon
      Agammamon, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:19pm

      Re:

      That's ridiculous.

      If something is only available on Steam its either because physical distributors refuse to carry it. Steam makes available tons of games that otherwise would never have seen the light of day.

      And there's been GoG and Desura, all the major publishers have their own distribution channel - they refuse to use Steam, not Steam locking them down - that's not counting stores like Stardock.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Grande and Cox, 30 Apr 2019 @ 9:39am

        Re: Re:

        If something is only available on Steam its either because physical distributors refuse to carry it.

        Not necessarily talking about only physical distributors. I am talking about any and all ways to distribute a game, including without "clients" installed.

        As for the second part, yet there are still games that I can't find anywhere outside of steam. When am I going to find a legal copy of say, Modern Warfare 3 for PC that can be played without steam? And it's not only that game, it's literal tons both indie and AAA. Which in the ene circles right back to the beginning. The end result of Epic's actions is "it's either install epic or go piracy to play Y," not much different than the same ending achieved by steam - whether directly or indirectly by contributing with tools that serve as lock in mechanisms or developers being lazy. And ultimately, all the means to get there are not exciting, just like the end isn't.

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        • identicon
          Agammamon, 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Again - none of that is Steam's doing.

          Steam isn't locking anyone else out. A monopoly is not bad just because its a monopoly, a monopoly is bad when it uses force to prevent competition. Which Steam has never done.

          You're complaining that no one else can compete with Steam - and that's because Steam is providing acceptable service at the minimum possible cost so no one else thinks they can make money on that.

          That's not a negative. That's not shady action on Steam's part. That's how competition works.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2019 @ 2:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If the developers of Modern Warfare 3 can't be arsed to distribute their game by any other method than via Steam, that is hardly Steam's fault.

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  • identicon
    dicey, 29 Apr 2019 @ 8:53pm

    Alternate take: Epic storefront bleeding money. Seeks way to save face while staunching the wound

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:00pm

    It is a smart move. Epic knows that Steam incurs substantially higher operating costs by nature of the additional features that they offer to gamers and developers and probably already operates at reasonably tight margins.

    Epic also knows that if Steam did match their developer share and Epic followed through with the promise to end paying for exclusives then they would absolutely hemorrhage non-Fortnite users back to Steam.

    If Steam did take them up on the offer then their play would basically be to wait Epic out. Wait out Epic's Fortnite warchest in the hopes that Epic doesn't create a platform with real feature parity that can be sustainable. Once Epic's no longer a viable competitor then they're in the unenviable position of having to return the developer share to its current level. On the other hand, Epic can just... not follow through with their promise to end exclusives.

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  • identicon
    Agammamon, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:07pm

    . . . great PR counterattacks the gaming industry has ever seen.

    Last night, Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney tweeted that his company would end its controversial exclusivity agreements if Steam raised its revenue cut for developers

    Uhm, no. Sorry. Backend percentages are between the publisher and the distribution channel. We, as consumers, simply don't care. If this is a great PR counterattack, its only among the publishers that this PR is landing.

    Publishers, not developers. AAA publishers specifically. Like EA. Because Epic could care less about whether or not the indie or even the AA developers sell through his store.

    Instead, all he's doing is taking the pressure off the Epic store development team - they have no competition right now, Sweeney's bought it all out.

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  • identicon
    ryuugami, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:12pm

    Epic boss Tim Sweeney just fired off one of the great PR counterattacks the gaming industry has ever seen.

    He really hasn't.

    "Hey, you have a better platform and many, many more customers. We have no features and a tiny customer base. Match our price and we'll stop burning the house down!"

    Sure, Steam is probably taking too much (it does have a near-monopoly, after all). So how about competing with them on that point instead of deliberately sabotaging the entire market?

    Epic could've been a "support the devs" competitor to Steam; they've chosen to be a "screw the players" competitor instead. As a player, I'm not happy with their choice.

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  • identicon
    Cyber Killer, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:13pm

    Short memory

    The public has a short memory. Before the time of Steam, the publishers had to deal with physical media and stores, plus lots of added costs like transport, storage, etc... All these costs could burn up to 70% of the game's price, so when Steam showed up taking only 30% of the price as costs, every publisher was super happy.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 8:42am

      Re: Short memory

      All true but times have changed. Only the top AAA titles still land in brick and mortar stores with fancy boxes. The vast majority of games, most if not all of those same AAA titles included, are downloaded and installed rather than sold in a box these days. Many PCs don't even have CD/DVD drives any more. I have an external one is use maybe once per year that I keep around "just in case".

      There is room now for competition on the cut digital storefronts take. It would be good if they reduced that cut now, before the market fragments further. We all talk about how awesome competition is and then bitch and moan when the market fragments to enable that competition. Apparently we need to choose between lower cost and ease of use.

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      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re: Short memory

        We all talk about how awesome competition is and then bitch and moan when the market fragments to enable that competition. Apparently we need to choose between lower cost and ease of use.

        Competition that benefits the consumer, that is. GOG, itch.io, and Humble's DRM-free offerings all compete with Steam and none of them have drawn the ire of The Epic Games Store. There are several reasons for this.

        1. GOG, itch.io, and Humble offer something Steam does not have. The Epic Games Store offers far less than what Steam has and only have timed exclusives. Whereas GOG, itch.io, and Humble incentivize away from Steam with DRM-free, feature-complete offerings, the EGS disincentivizes by having a half-assed store with anti-consumer attitudes.

        2. I have a PC with Steam, and I have a Nintendo Switch, yet if given the option, I would rather play on the Nintendo Switch, because the Switch has the benefit of portability and adaptability. Even without the Nintendo exclusives, I'd still have bought one. The exclusives are just the icing on the cake. Contrast this with the Epic Game Store: if the same game were offered on the Epic Game Store or Steam, I'd choose Steam hands down, even if the Epic Game Store were offered for free. Why? Because the forums offer tech support and fan feedback and ways to improve the game. The Epic Game Store looks down on such things. While it is true that the Nintendo Switch eShop does not have any feedback mechanism for their games, it should be noted that the Nintendo eShop doesn't have Early Access for the general public and Console Game expectations are different, in that games are expected to work out of the box and without variations in hardware so reviews to make sure of these things are moot.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:31pm

    Steam should offer two tiers, that devs can choose between - their current "20%, but free review and 3rd party site keys" or "12%, for every key"...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 1:10am

    I mean you realize steam takes no xut when the developer sells keys using other platforms right? And they also absorb all credit card and other processjng fees and bandwidth, while epic charges those costs to the consumer. Also these exclusives have resulted in no price drops despite the supposed better developer share.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 8:43am

      Re:

      Steam also offers no-argument refunds on games you don't like. You can freely try out a game and still get your money back if it blows. This is the best thing that ever happened to the game industry from a player perspective because far too many games are terrible.

      Will Epic do that?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:10am

        Re: Re:

        Disagree.
        One week/2 hours playtime is very constraining. And it came at the cost of the better sales- no instants, no flash sales, less engaging or valuable events.
        I'd trade them back tbh.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          2 hours isn't a lot of playtime, no, but it is a lot more than zero. I can drop $60 on a game on Steam and decide in the first couple hours if it has the potential to be a good game. If it blows then I get my $60 back. I've tried and refunded many games risk-free. Some I ended up keeping as surprisingly great games I probably wouldn't have otherwise taken the risk on.

          The sales still happen very regularly and even those games can be refunded if they don't live up to their marketing.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 1:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Discounts are generally smaller.
            When you could pick up a game for 90% off on a steam sale, often you (or at least I) did, and I wasn't much worse off if it turned out to be shit because I spent only $3 on it. Or whatever.

            Particularly with more complex games, two hours may not be enough time to get a proper grasp and feel for the game. The hassle of paying up, trying, then refunding is more of a barrier than the hassle of paying up a highly marked down price and if it didn't work, who cared, it was <$5.

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 2:18am

    How is it possible that among subjects far and wide on the legal, political, economic and business spectrum, all the major writers for Techdirt have the same opinion?

    How is that possible? Even the Democratic Party has dissenters.

    What type of totalitarian hold does Techdirt have on so many?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 2:43am

      Re:

      Well almost all Catholics have similar opinions, since most of them quote the same Bible, and are ruled by the same Pope...you know, the guy who wears that white hat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:16am

      Re:

      So many? I thought you were whining earlier again that nobody reads this site.

      Also, how do you know they always agree? Just because they don't have arguments about editorial in the actual articles, that does not mean they don't happen behind the scenes. It's only immature dicks who air their dirty laundry in public. Actual professionals will do that shit in private.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:02am

        Re: Re:

        Why so intense about what other people comment?

        My God...just what is at stake here?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          My patience, as this particular moron is getting a little tiresome, but I'm not otherwise occupied enough to not respond.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Wow, he called someone a name! What a REAL MAN that makes him!!

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If you think that, you're even dumber than he is, and he's been attacking people for what he imagines their genitalia to look like recently. But, hey, much more fun than participating in the actual conversation, huh?

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 2:42am

    Bitch lasagna!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:04am

    Again, this is fairly brilliant, and it's going to be interesting to see how Valve responds. Your move, Steam.

    Is anyone else at Techdirt available to write articles about gaming or are we stuck with Timothy.

    It's rhetorical for a reason. Honestly, I don't even know why I bother reading his articles, as most are completely inept and ignorant of the topic he writes.

    I'm perplexed how the article seems to conflate publisher with developer, changing words seemingly to ensure readers see them as one and the same (which is hardly the case).

    Let's try a little game and ask yourself this: If Epic is so concerned with developers, is there any game in their exclusive deals which are done only with developers?

    As I see it, the only games under exclusive contract belong to major publishers, and I can attest not a single one of these companies will pass the increased revenue to their developers.

    What Epic is literally saying is: "Despite the fact gaming has made more money than all the movies released by Hollywood combined, it's not enough for publishers. By granting them an 88% return, their profits soar even higher, their shareholders stay happy, and neither gamers or developers will ever reap the benefits of this publisher revenue growth. Moreso, prices will never come down. Never!"

    Don't bring up the sales events. We're talking new releases, all of which start at $69.99 for a "AAA" game (which is a moniker people need to stop using because it, too, is also bullshit now).

    Publishers have literally gone out of their way to turn gaming into a world of microtransactions, where the base price of the game no longer allows anyone who "purchased" it to have a complete game.

    Throw in the fact many are pushing toward random loot crates (because gamers are fucking retarded using the stupid excuse "it's my money" as a foundation to justify this retardation), what we have left is the final straw as demonstrated by Epic: unnecessary exclusivity.

    If Epic were truly mindful of the developers, then they wouldn't do any business with their publishers. In fact, if Epic was all about the love, they'd tell publishers to initiate better treatment of their studio employees, so we're not having to read another article on Kotaku (and Timothy should take very strong notes of Jason) exposing the ugly side of development.

    Epic's CEO didn't retort anything defined as "brilliant". All he did was use a PR stunt to make a statement to get retarded gamers, like Timothy, to drink the Kool-Aid while pretending this is better for everyone.

    Developers and gamers? Well, like always, they'll lose again.

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    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:33am

      Re:

      Let's try a little game and ask yourself this: If Epic is so concerned with developers, is there any game in their exclusive deals which are done only with developers?

      Um, Supergiant Games has Early Access of their game Hades exclusively on Epic Games Store. When it is finally finished, it will be released on Steam as well.

      I agree with most everybody here about their disdain for the Epic Games Store's anti-consumer attitude, but it's not true that it's only major publishers who have timed exclusive deals with Epic Games.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      By granting them an 88% return, their profits soar even higher, their shareholders stay happy

      An 88% return on 4-figure sales totals is nowhere near a 70-80% return on 6-figure sales totals. These publishers are betting the farm on the hope that the game will still be attractive enough in 6 months to still get those 6-figure totals when it finally releases on Steam. Time will tell if they got this right but I'm betting they'll fail miserably.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:25am

    Looking at the comments here and on other gaming sites, it's almost like Valve doesn't have to respond. Their customers already are. That 88% split also ignores the fact that Epic waives their licensing fees for games using their engine, something I am sure wouldn't apply to games sold on Valve. Also they pass on the payment processor fees onto the customer, so this isn't a move that is about what's best for your customers. It's not a straight up 12% to 12% and Tim Sweeney knows that, it's PR.

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  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:06am

    I am curious. Does Epic give 88% to its developers? Or is this just a gun to a competitor's head?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:21am

    If Epic actually cared about developers they should take care of their own first instead of this pissing match with Valve...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:37am

    A few notes of math examples.
    According to some sources many developers utilize Steam system for generating steam keys for use outside the steam store. Manly for sale in their own web stores. Here Steam still supplies the infrastructure for this games downloads and get no revenue share.

    According to some statistics for this up to 30% of all steam keys are sold this way (I believe there was an ArsTechnica article covering this a couple of weeks ago).

    In addition to this in Asia (Particular China and Japan apparently) the most common form of steam purchase is by way of cash-cards purchased at your local Seven-Eleven (or local equivalent store I suppose). Almost no purchases here are done by Mastercard/VISA or Paypal, wish are the most common payments options in the westerns sphere. In many areas in Asian 80-90% of payments are done with these cash cards. Here steam covers the cost for handling this system entirely and that cost is 10-15% of the cards revenue.
    The Asian region nowadays stand for a significant portion of steams global revenue.

    Take those to items together and steams 20-30% is actually more along the line of 14-16%. Compared to EPICs share of 12% or 17%.

    So are EPIC going to backpedal on this now already since STEAM pretty much already fulfills this?
    Or is this just a PR stunt....

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 5:50am

    GaaS

    Remember when you didn't have to have broadband internet access in order to play a video game on the PC?
    Remember when you didn't hear about a game no longer being available because it's servers were shut down?
    Remember when you could play an older game with it's original soundtrack because there were no stupid licensing issues preventing you from doing so?
    Smucker's remembers
    The GaaS train is coming...it'll be relative cheap at first, but it's pricing will perpetually increase, and you won't own a single game.
    Thanks, Adobe Customers.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 8:53am

      Re: GaaS

      Many games offered on Steam can be played offline. Those that require an online connection typically are PvP or multiplayer co-op games. Those games, even if you bought them in a store, would still require an internet connection to play.

      Multiplayer games post-1992 or so have always required a TCP/IP connection. Remember LAN parties and Kali? TCP/IP is a techy way to say "network", e.g. "the internet".

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Grande and Cox, 30 Apr 2019 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re: GaaS

        Many games offered on Steam can be played offline.

        Up until offline "mode" breaks and the client decides you can play none of your games.

        That Epic situation probably wouldn't have blown up if it happened before clients became mandatory to play games.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:58am

          Re: Re: Re: GaaS

          Up until offline "mode" breaks and the client decides you can play none of your games.

          So we should riot over something that hasn't happened yet?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 2:00pm

            The end of Steam offline mode

            This was a concern long before Windows 7 mandated a phone home to activate (or Windows 10's regular phones home to stay active). What would happen if Microsoft closed shop?

            Before I bought Half Life 2, what would happen if Steam closed shop?

            At that time, Newell promised that a contingency update had already been written that would permanently unlock all our games. If EA took Steam's extravagant buy us out offer that one time, and EA intended just to shut Steam down to spite its end users, that contingency patch would be released to the public.

            That was a long time ago.

            Since then we've seen countless cases in which companies arbitrarily shut games down, typically those that required MMO servers. I still won't play MMOs or MMO lights (it was one of the reasons I stopped playing The Division).

            For those games that have enough popularity, we often will see private servers launch. When Gamespy multiplayer service ended, Borderlands (the first one) became de facto single-player only until modders rigged it for Steam multiplayer (later ordained by Valve as official.)

            If Valve arbitrarily decided to end offline mode, that would be a major blow to public trust of Valve and would likely result in a bootleg mod anyway (much like Sim City 5's online mandate which was circumvented inside months of release.)

            I don't trust companies to do the right thing, I do expect them not do stupid things that would obviously lose them trust and money. And the more cruel a company is to its end-users, the more the end-users are driven to piracy and subversive modding.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Grande and Cox, 30 Apr 2019 @ 2:16pm

              Re: The end of Steam offline mode

              With that said, this contingency patch was limited in nature. As far as I can understand it, it only enables backups to be restored offline - you can't do that right now. Even the original post had doubts about that plan, and it was followed by a user comment that not even Valve knows what will happen should steam shut down.

              Now we're at a point where the thing is a mammoth with thousands of publishers and developers. If it's going to be "unlock all the games," it's going to be infeasible for a closing company technically and legally, that's selling this many games and DLC. And that's without getting into third party DRM like Denuvo, how joyous.

              Not to mention the original post with the contingency patch thing is only accessible via Wayback Machine, and was only a forum post by Gabe back when the service held a dozen games or so. It's not in FAQs or the terms of service. What I am saying is that this reassurance has no standing today. On valve games, probably, but good luck with the all the other games. And this isn't something in their control, not anymore with that size.

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              • icon
                Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 2:31pm

                So what do we do now?

                I'm not saying it has standing either.

                I'm saying that historically (in the last two decades) the mod community has had our backs a lot of the time. It won't stop big game companies from being dicks -- already Microsoft and EA have bricked boxes and accounts respectively for even trivial slights -- but not all hope is lost when they are.

                And yes, I remember a number of games that were sorely lamented as their servers shut down.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Grande and Cox, 30 Apr 2019 @ 2:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: GaaS

            I know offline "mode" to have failed me several times when it shouldn't have done so. So it has happened already and will continue to happen. This is what you get for trusting DRM.

            Also, the contingency patch the other responder mentioned is more than infeasible today, not to mention the only way you can find it is via Wayback Machine. I'll get to it in a proper response.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:23am

    What retaliatory strike? As far as I know Steam as been pretty mum about the whole deal. Sad title. Sadly this article is about as one sided as one can find on Techdirt. Your apologist and obvious favoritism to Epic is showing.

    Steam may not be perfect but they sure as hell haven't fractured the PC games playing field with stupid exclusives. Save that crap for the consoles.

    When consumers can choose where to buy a game and not be forced into a questionable spyware launcher, that is competition.

    Epic and his 'brilliant' CEO will never get my money. If he's dumb enough to bribe publishers, then so be it. If publishers are that easily swayed, then guess they'll lose out as well.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:59am

      Re:

      Your apologist and obvious favoritism to Epic is showing.

      Clearly you're new around here. I recommend a search for articles mentioning Epic as a starting point.

      You're welcome.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re:

        > Your apologist and obvious favoritism to Epic is showing.

        Clearly you're new around here. I recommend a search for articles mentioning Epic as a starting point.

        You're welcome.

        No, the original AC was right. Techdirt has been in favor of Epic vis-à-vis the Epic Game Store. Which is fine by me, it's their web site. And we in the comments section are free to disagree. Which we do.

        It works out for the both of us.

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:31am

    The end-user isn't valued here.

    Tim Sweeney not long ago made it clear he gives zero fucks for the end-user experience, that updating the Epic client to get it even functional is not high on his priorities.

    As my gaming budget is limited, and Epic's pricing is not competitive (full resale) Epic seems to be interested in selling only those who want it first, and yeah, the Epic pricing + experience sum may not be competitive with that of piracy.

    Right now, I take Epic's offering of free games (one every two weeks), but I have no incentive to buy anything on Epic that actually costs money.

    It's a concordant time for me, as I have a tech support ticket with Ubisoft regarding Uplay, not because it won't run my games (it will) but because I can't see the Uplay store, and Ubi's been putting me through considerable lengths to try to get the store to show again, and my patience is running out: I really don't need to buy from them if they can't get their software to work.

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:39am

    What we need on the User End...

    ...is an open source generic client that will manage all games (if not all media) from all markets, Steam, Epic, Ubi, GOG, Humble whoever. So I can buy all my games from one client, and use the same download manager for them.

    It's not going to happen before the ice caps melt, any more than we'll ever see a connection standard between razor heads and shaving handles. (At least it's won't to happen with legitimate support from the respective services: VLC media player does play .rm and .mov files despite their proprietary origins, so one can dream.)

    But the nightmare of having a dozen game clients in one's taskbar has come to fruition. Steam's is the only one I start at launch because I use the chat client (despite its poor support for unicode and emoji libraries.)

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    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:44am

      Re: What we need on the User End...

      Side Tangent, but if RM and MOV files are DRM-free, could you just convert them for them to be played by VLC?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 10:53am

        .RM and .MOV

        Can't say they're DRM free but whatever DRM they had has been defeated. And the answer is yes, you can convert them to whatever format you like. VLC is just a media player that comes loaded with a lot of Codecs and system smart enough to quickly detect the right one for a given file.

        I don't know the specifics of how Steam DRM works (or Uplay or Epic) but running the game files would probably be just a matter of finding the right unlock protocol.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Samuel Abram (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:03am

          Re: .RM and .MOV

          Oh, I see the analogy you're trying to make.

          Some files on Steam have DRM-free loopholes, such as that you could purchase Genesis/Mega Drive ROMs from Sega to use in any emulator or even a multi-cart on a Sega Genesis or Mega Drive, or purchase any one of the old-school Doom (1993) games or Heretic and play an enhanced version with the WADs and ZDoom.

          itch.io is even better, because many people who develop games in the old school NES homebrew scene put their ROMs on that service.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mrtraver (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 7:31pm

      Re: What we need on the User End...

      Check out Playnite, "...an open source video game library manager with one simple goal: To provide a unified interface for all of your games."

      Unfortunately you do still have to have those other clients installed for games requiring them. But Playnite will launch the appropriate client in the background when required when you select to play a game.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 11:43am

    "
    I'm reminded of Thomas Macaulay's famous statement:
    "the effect of monopoly generally is to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad."
    "

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 1:42pm

    Forged from the souls of forsaken children

    So Epic is coercing their devs into 100+ hour workweek crunches as well (coerced as in, if you don't work overtime you lose your job and are blackballed for being not a team player) that last months at a time.

    So like the recent revelations of Mortal Kombat 11 the output of Epic is, too, created by inhumane labor practices.

    Again with the cyberpunk dystopia we live in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 4:19pm

      Re: Forged from the souls of forsaken children

      Let's be fair. Valve/Steam have done their share of contributing to our dystopia, as well.

      I mean, they're the ones who brought the loot box model from F2P MMOs in China and Korea to the West in the form of the crates and keys in TF2, which were later implemented in their other games like CS:GO and Dota 2. Then they took all of that one step further in the form of the Steam Marketplace, where you could buy and sell the items from those crates for money that could be used elsewhere on Steam. Of course, Valve gets a cut from all of those transactions. This Marketplace led to gambling rings revolving around cosmetic skins in CS:GO. Steam eventually started cracking down on gambling sites that used Steam's API, but this was only after the Washington Gambling Commission starting taking notice. Valve's profits from that racket were probably nice and tidy, enough so that they decided to turn a blind eye till the regulators started getting involved. Valve still makes mad money off of those loot boxes and the items of those boxes getting traded on their Marketplace. They also wanted to make large amounts of money off of Artifact, their Dota 2 card game, where all cards could be traded on that same Marketplace, creating a blatant Pay To Win situation. It's baffling that Valve doesn't receive the same level of scorn that companies like EA and Activision do for their monetization practices.

      The Steam Marketplace also has Trading Cards (not related to Artifact) that you can shift around for Steam Wallet funds. Trading Cards are acquired by just playing games, which you then "craft" into badges to raise an arbitrary level on your Steam profile. People decided to game the Marketplace with those as well. There are also tons of garbage games that were made and are still being made specifically with those cards in mind. They got onto Steam thanks to Valve's lax curation policies with Steam Greenlight and Greenlight's replacement, Steam Direct. This became a problem, and still is one today.

      So what was Valve's solution?

      They decided to implement multiple systems for curating games. Only, these weren't internal process that Valve would perform. Instead, while Valve rubber-stamps everything that gets sent their way without even looking at it, and it all gets listed on the store, it would be the job of the users themselves to curate games for other users. Incalculable hours of free labor spent from people making sure the store is actually usable for their fellow users while Valve let's cryptocurrency miners, "games" without executables, or games where you commit atrocities that dehumanize certain groups of people onto the store for all to see and find. Valve also created an algorithm that's supposed to promote better discovery, but that seems prone to breaking and screwing over honest developers.

      Valve makes large amounts of money off of gambling, created a Trading Card system meant to act like a Skinner Box to get people interacting with the Steam Marketplace, built a Pay-To-Win card game where your chances of winning were directly tied to spending money on that Marketplace, and lets their store rot with trash while depending on algorithms and free work from its users to make the store just barely presentable. The once-illustrious Valve doesn't care and doesn't seem like it stands for anything anymore. Anything except money. And the worst, most cyberpunk-dystopia part about it all is that everybody just shrugs off most of it. Valve's past successes and all the juicy seasonal sales have lulled people into complacency. The only thing that Valve never got away with (and thank God they didn't) was paid mods. But who knows? If Valve had released just one more game before then, they might've had enough good-will stored up that Steam users would gladly bend over and take that too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 7:45pm

        Steam eats children too.

        Agreed. Valve's hand is also drenched with blood. Jim Sterling has been noting this level of ruthlessness is the current norm for the AAA sector (and no small amount of the indie sector).

        Is this a critical mass thing? Are there incidents of companies that have been able to get big and popular and yet not get fraught with scandal and atrocity?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 3:17pm

    Tim Sweeney lies about as often and as badly as a politician. Perhaps he should seek a change in career.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2019 @ 2:53pm

    It's a brilliant retaliatory strike only in that it may sell (to idiots willing to buy that line of shit). Sweeney's flex doesn't even make any sense whatsoever. Brilliant, yeah, in our PT Barnum / Edward Bernays sort of world, but hardly authentic or honest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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