The EPIC Effect: Microsoft Changes Revenue Split To Match EPIC Store, Steam Holds Firm

from the competition-is-amazing dept

Way back when Epic released its Epic Store PC game storefront, the release of this new competitor to Steam focused on two major selling points. The first was timed exclusives that it shelled out tons of money for, allowing it to sell games the public couldn't get anywhere else for a certain period of time. This pissed off lots of people, as the public generally doesn't like exclusives. That said, Epic did mention that it would end its exclusivity practices if the rest of the gaming storefront world, especially Steam, mirrored the Epic Store's second key selling point, which was a far more favorable split offered to game developers than the "industry standard" 70/30 split that sees places like Steam getting nearly a third of game revenue just for hosting the game on its platform. Instead, Epic's store has a 88/12 split, meaning the platform is willing to take less than half of the revenue Steam extracts from gamemakers.

In other words, Epic positioned its exclusivity program as merely a method to get the other storefronts to take less money away from game developers, which softened the blow with the public and surely made it a great many fans in the gaming industry.

Well, Steam hasn't caved yet. But Microsoft did just announce that it is moving to match the splits offered by the Epic Store, marking some movement in the industry and perhaps an indication of things to come.

“As part of our commitment to empower every PC game creator to achieve more, starting on August 1 the developer share of Microsoft Store PC games sales net revenue will increase to 88%, from 70%,” Head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty wrote on the Xbox blog. “A clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so.”

The move is the latest in a bit of a sea change for game revenues. In a survey released yesterday by the Game Developers Conference, only 3% of respondents thought the once-standard 30% take by a platform was justified. The Epic Games Store broke onto the scene by notably only taking 12% of the revenue. Over the last year, both Apple and Google have lessened their cuts for games making under $1 million. Steam, meanwhile, has held more or less firm on its 30% take, with the cut lessening the more money a game makes, a system that makes more money for larger, richer publishers, while penalizing smaller indies.

Funny what a little bit of competition can do. While it is certainly notable that Steam is watching all of these changes with its proverbial arms folded, doing no sort of splits-changing of its own, maybe that's okay and maybe there's a place for that. Or maybe the pressure continues to build and the Epic Store does end up being the preferred storefront for smaller titles and indie developers and Steam eventually does have to come down from the 70/30 split.

All I know for sure is that without Epic entering this arena and pushing the envelope, be it for altruistic reasons or otherwise, it seems unlikely that even Apple, Google, and Microsoft would have made any of these changes. That's why, whatever you think of the Epic Store, the added competition certainly is nice.

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Filed Under: competition, epic store, steam, video game stores, video games
Companies: epic, microsoft, valve


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Somebody obviously hasn't played Half-Life Alyx.

    One new game in the last 4 years doesn't maintain a development studio no matter how much it sells. Let alone the cloud services Valve is much more interested in maintaining. Take away the card game, Dota community chess game spinoff, and VR tech demo and it's last made game is a Japan-Only Left 4 Dead 2 arcade cabinet released in 2014.

    I should also point out the need for said game's requirement of a $2000.00 gaming rig with compatible VR headset on top of the usual $60.00 admission fee. That alone puts it out of reach for most of the market. (And then there is the puke fest to follow said purchase for most potential buyers....) What part of any of that makes Half-Life Alyx something that can keep Valve's empire afloat? For a studio that hasn't put out anything more complicated than a card game and tech demo for almost a decade, going all in on VR is kinda suicidal unless your core business is elsewhere.

    Not saying Half-Life Alyx isn't a good game. (You're right, I haven't played it. So I reserve judgement on it.) It may very well be, but it's release doesn't mean Valve is suddenly focused on game development again as a core business.


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