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 sceptical of Sweeney’s position.
“If Steam committed to a permanent 88 per cent revenue share for all developers and publishers without major strings attached,” Sweeney wrote, “Epic would hastily organise a retreat from exclusives (while honouring our partner commitments) and consider putting our own games on Steam.”
Since the Epic Game Store launched in December, the company behind Fortnite and the Unreal Engine has struck several exclusivity deals with high-profile games like Borderlands 3 and The Division 2, preventing those games from appearing on Steam. The practice has been contentious, drawing a lot of ire from PC gamers, especially considering the Epic Game Store lacks many of the features that make Steam so enticing for players. For developers, however, being on the Epic Store is a boon, as it gives 88% of revenue earned from games to the people who make them. PC megalith Steam, on the other hand, gives developers between 70-80 per cent depending on sales.
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.”
While Sweeney’s tweets seem like Twitter chatter rather than an actual challenge to Steam developer Valve, the sentiment certainly sounds nice. Question is, is this a bluff that Sweeney knows Valve will never call, an effort to charm angry PC gamers, or is it a genuine promise? Sweeney summed up his vision as “Essentially, the spirit of an open platform where the store is just a place to find games and pay for stuff.” Sure.