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.