Epic Games Store – Review

February 5, 2019
by Alanna Elling

Competition is good, yes? Well sometimes. It seems that anytime someone sees a delicious cake, they all want a piece of said cake. I’m speaking of course of digital game distribution. Epic Games is venturing into the virtual storefront for video games with their Epic Games Store. Steam has been needing a good competitor for some time now, but is Epic’s outing creating a more hostile environment for online games distribution?

 

It’s something that’s been going on with almost all forms of content delivery. Music, movies, tv shows, etc. Everyone wants their own little corner on the internet to peddle their wares. That’s fine for the most part. The problems come when the newcomers don’t learn from history, or worse — introduce scummy practices into the system.

Let’s touch on that first point. Steam has a very sordid history going back to its launch in 2003. It was almost unanimously hated by all who had to deal with it. Especially considering it was the only way to play the ever popular Counter-Strike. It was glitchy, barebones, and would even stop you playing all together. It was an absolute tragedy. Over time though, Valve has been building up their good will (and losing some *cough*Half-Life 3*cough*) while also becoming the gold standard as a gaming content delivery network.

Small things like selectable download speeds, cloud saves, game forums, and communities. Things that give value to the service to both the customer and the publisher. Then there’s the icing like integrated mod distribution, gifting, and achievements. Any distribution network has a bar set as the minimum needed to be on offer to everyone. Everything I’ve listed is not yet integrated into the Epic Store. Some things they have said they will for sure not have like user reviews (these will supposedly be opt-in on case by case basis). This may sound like splitting hairs, but the Steam user forums for Subnautica were filled with newbies asking for help when the Epic Games Store offered it as a freebie. Think about that: Epic Games derives value from a platform it’s directly competing with while the customers on both sides suffer.

Epic Games doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, they just have to meet what are now entry level requirements when launching a digital games store. None of this “Oh, but it’s new blah blah blah…” NO! Epic Games doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You can’t look at a service like Steam and launch with just a quarter of the features. Or maybe you could if we move to our next point…

 

Paid exclusives are the bane of gaming. Especially third party exclusives. They’re anti-consumer, anti-competitive, and really just all around no good for everyone involved. Valve, in all the time Steam has been going, never paid third party companies for exclusivity. In fact, I believe their terms of service for publishers encourages them to put their game on as many places as possible. That’s for the simple fact that Valve knows their storefront can act as a hub for the game, drawing more people to their platform, leading to an increased customer base.

Which brings us to the Metro Exodus debacle. To get everyone up to speed: Deep Silver Games, the publisher behind the Metro franchise, has decided to go as an Epic Games Store exclusive for their newest entry Metro Exodus. This is after having the game up for pre-order for months of Steam.

The news for this came out of nowhere, with Valve releasing a small statement on their store page saying that the pre-orders would be ending that day and that the game will now be a timed exclusive on Epic Games for one year. This was not well accepted to say the least, and customers began to “review bomb” the previous Metro games by leaving scathing reviews with mentions of plans to boycott the new game. To which a developer of the title at 4A games said of the fanbase “…if all PC players announce a boycott of Metro, then the next Metro, if it does happen, is definitely not on the PC.” Ouch. The Metro series has served a somewhat niche audience in the FPS genre, owing most of its success to its loyal fans. Now, with all this goodwill tarnished and thrown aside, it’s hard to see how the franchise continues from here. Especially if Metro Exodus is not an almost flawless gem of a game.

Which leads us back to the main point of this post. Competition can be good. Valve, with all they’ve done for gaming, like the OpenVR protocol to seamlessly integrating Windows games into Linux, need a decent opponent in this arena. They need someone pushing them to strive for better. Consumers need options, too. Good options. All this does is open the door to a fractured consumer base, and pushing us more into the realm of what the movie industry is seeing a resurgence of. Pirates. Gabe Newell said of gaming piracy back in 2011 “Piracy is almost always a service problem…” and with the Epic Game Store I see nothing but problems.

 

What do you think about the Epic Games Store? Leave a comment below!

Written by David Budziszewski

 

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