Controversy at the Epic Games Store! Exclusivity Deals Are Just Bullshit

Recently the publisher for the long awaited Metro Exodus, Deep Silver has announced that its PC release will be exclusive for one year to the Epic Games Store, as part of an agreement between the publisher and the Fortnite developer, Epic Games.

I, like many other gamers out there, were not happy. Even for those of us who had pre-ordered the game long before its actual release on February 15, 2019, this was akin to a rug being pulled right under our feet. At least both Deep Silver and Steam are gracious enough to let us keep our purchases.

What is Epic Games doing for Developers?

So here is how Epic helps Developers out:

I actually like that developers get more of a cut and I completely agree that they should seek out those kinds of deals; this means that they get to put the extra revenue back into their games and make them better! Big win for everyone!

It’s actually really good, because this also means that they can charge us for a lower price if we went to Epic rather than Steam. When it was available on Steam, we were charged $60 just to pre-order the game! Now here’s Epic’s offering:

That’s $10 less than usual! If I’m a stickler for buying at launch, I’d do that. (Although I don’t anymore to save money.)

If someone told me this earlier, I’d be ok with this… But it’s still many levels of wrong.

Epic Can’t Compete with Steam

I downloaded the Epic Games Store a few weeks ago in order to download a few free games featured on it. I’m just a bit disappointed by the lack of features. Ok, that’s a lie. Epic currently doesn’t have features that I consider very vital. Being able to access my games and continue off where I was at from different platforms (from desktop to laptop, for example) is pretty important to me. Sharing games with my closest friends and family is really important to me as well. I was able to discover Slay the Spire from my fiance because he was willing to share his library with me; I shortly bought the game after. I think being able to share games is a great way for a game to reach a wider audience (after all, that’s what mostly a lot of indie developers want to do). But these are not what I think is vital for a game distribution platform, although they are still quite important.

I totally played way too many video games...
Maybe it’s a good thing that it doesn’t show us how many hours I played a game…

The fact that the Epic Games Store lack user reviews, content sharing, wish lists (a huge one for me!) and a place for users to congregate is a huge epic fail. User reviews allow gamers to share their opinion if a game is worth their money or not and it is a huge driving factor in how gamers spend on their games. (It’s always nice to rely on feedback, but it can be prone to abuse thanks to review bombing in both directions.) A wish list is very important to keep users informed of an opportunity to get their game at a discounted rate! I use this all the time, especially since I’m super frugal about my spending. Also, the lack of forums for sharing content or asking for help is rather disappointing because gamers want to share content, their feelings and even ask for help. There’s no real place to do that on the Epic Games store.

I’m already peeved about the lack of features and I absolutely don’t want to have another place to download my games from. I am, after all, inherently lazy. If Epic actually had some cool things and features, I might consider using it, but it really doesn’t, aside from the free offerings. What really makes me mad is how they steal developers away.

Exclusivity is a Problem

While I’m perfectly fine with Epic offering better deals for developers, depending on their contract, Epic may have forced them (developers or publishers) into a binding agreement which can affect distribution. By locking games into a certain platform, this is actually really bad for the developers, who want to reach a wider audience (and thus, more sales) and for us, the consumers.

A Brief History in Exclusives

Games were always limited by the platform. So it came as no surprise when gaming started to become more popular, so too were the number of platforms. Starting in the 90s, we were seeing fierce competition between Nintendo’s Super Nintendo and Sega’s Sega Genesis. There were games that were available to both consoles, like Mortal Kombat and Double Dragon, but each had their exclusives such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Sonic the Hedgehog. Entering the 3D gaming era, there was fierce competition between Nintendo’s Nintendo 64 and Sony’s PlayStation consoles, which means both companies now have to fight for software developers to publish on their console. Sony did not have the reputation that Nintendo had at the time, being that they exclusively made other electronics at the time and that Nintendo have their own brand published exclusively on their platform, so they really fought hard to secure deals with third party developers. For example, Final Fantasy developers Square (now Square Enix) used to publish on Nintendo consoles, but now they develop and publish for Sony. Due to these under the table deals, one can surmise that the amount of fanboyism between the consoles can be called the “Console Wars”.

Note that I did not even mention a peep about PC games. PC gaming is unique and thanks to the internet, it is very flexible. Because of that, PC gaming is very wide and can cover many things, ranging from typical CD programs to being played right from your browser! (This was one of the reasons why I went to from console gaming to PC gaming.)

Anyway, by locking a game into exclusivity, you have to run into the risk of seeing if your platform can reach the intended audience. There is a reason why that despite both EA and Ubisoft having their own original platforms to launch their games from, they also sell their games on Steam (while still linking their platform, of course!). Steam commands quite a monopoly over the PC gaming audience and for good reason too. If another game distribution platform (like GOG Galaxy, which features DRM-free downloads) offers really sweet things in return, Steam would be forced to improve their own platform as a result.

What does this mean for us?

As consumers, we have to be wary of this crap all the time. We’ve already seen it in the console market. If I see a game I want from a particular publisher (say, Super Mario Odyssey), I would be forced to pick up a Nintendo Switch if I don’t have one already. Consoles are bloody expensive, as you can see for the Nintendo Switch. (Affiliate link here. If you do buy something, I will get something in return. More at my Affiliate Disclosure. Also, I encourage you to search Amazon for the other consoles too!)

The fact that Epic Games chose to go down this path is rather disappointing but it raises a lot of eyebrows. This creates a false funnel that gives Epic Games nothing to go on once their Fortnite money runs out (not saying that it would, it is still a very popular game), which in turn does not create any value for us.

Consider this: because of its exclusivity deals, games like Metro Exodus can be charged at any amount Epic (or the developer/publisher) decides on! That’s because there are no competitors to force the pricing of the product! That’s not all either! We are also at the whim of the distributor because we may not be able to meet certain requirements for refund, if they offer any at all. After all, a good example of this is Bethesda’s Fallout 76, launched exclusively on their own platform where they refused to issue out a refund after their disastrous launch.

My take on the situation

This is just me, but I’m a peeved gamer. As I’ve said before, this is completely bullshit and I’m just calling them out on it. I don’t like being limited in my choices of buying games (especially if it allows me to shop around for awesome deals) and I think a bit of competition is a good thing. (Steam needs it anyway!) However, the way that Epic Games is going into creating that competition is the wrong way of creating that competition.

I won’t be buying from Epic Games anytime soon. (But because I’m a stickler for free games, I’ll pick up the free offerings that Epic posts anyway!) What’s your take? Reply in the comments below!

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6 thoughts on “Controversy at the Epic Games Store! Exclusivity Deals Are Just Bullshit”

  1. This is really good take on the issue, just like you i’m also worried and annoyed by this situation. Not just worried it also takes away the trust of their customers in my opinion. They should really take that into consideration and improve these things in the future.

    Thank you for this post.

    1. If they have the features I mentioned earlier, I would’ve considered using it (even with the exclusivity deal). It just gives me a bad taste when people offer me lackluster products and try to upsell you on this.

      I guess you can see it as upselling; they offer you something you won’t get anywhere else (even if the product that is used to upsell is actually really good) but the base thing is crap.

  2. This is a great write up and analysis. Am a gamer but I have just a little knowledge about epic store. I’ve came across it but thinking it was just like every other store out there. Am more into PC and PlayStation games because I love playing offline than online. The more reason I go for PC is because I can get more games of different varieties without having to buy console just like you analysed. Great post, quite helpful. 

    1. I would be careful of buying from the Epic Game Store right now. They need to have their launcher work offline if you want to play offline and they don’t offer that. It kinda sucks for me because I do travel for a long period offline and if I buy any games there I wouldn’t be able to launch them. (I can be crafty and launch the executable straight from the desktop, but I have seen some games that are tied directly to the launcher!)

  3. This is a very intetesting post!

    It is really interesting to me to learn a little bit of the inner working and history of games. I think that if Epic Games hopes to compete, they are going to have to bring something better to the table. For starters they can introduce a chat room of some sort for gamers to interact and definitely a feedback system so gamers can give their opinions as well as offer improvements to make their business more user friendly and therfore more popular.

    I think gamers have enough problems to deal with (like getting ripped of by EA). I think that if these gaming giants are not careful one day soon someone is going to swoop into the market and offer both developers and gamers exactly what they want. Gamers want to play great games and are definitely willing to pay for it without getting ripped off by the companies.

    Developers want to make money but they also want people to play their games and enjoy them no matter what console or rig they use. It is just a matter of time before a company gets this balance right.

    When you talked about exclusivity is that like when God Of War 3 was only being made for PS3 or is that something else?

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Great comment. I agree with you on everything. Gamers are starting to get tired of the same crap the giant developers/publishers are pushing in order to squeeze more money out of us.

      Threatening or insulting the customers on their ability is also a very bad move as well. It will make the customers no longer want their products because the developers have decided to break their relationship with them. You’re seeing this in a lot of media right now like with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and even recently 4A Games has responded to the backlash rather poorly.

      For exclusivity, it is exactly what you said! It’s like God of War only being made for PS3 and nowhere else! I’m more inclined not to buy a product if it is not available for me. I actually avoided a lot of PlayStation games because of that. (Kind of regretting it now, but hey, there’s emulation!)

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