SuperGiant Games' new title, Hades, and A44's Ashen are the first heavy-hitting exclusives on Epic Games Store's marketplace.
Epic Games managed to give the industry a nasty right hook this week, once again proving its mettle as a catalytic force of nature. It's not enough that the North Carolina-based company has taken the world by (snow)storm with Fortnite -- they had to bowl us over with the Epic Games Store's logo attach to a number of prominent games, including two exclusives, which were all revealed at last night's Game Awards in Los Angeles, CA.
It's a little jarring to see how Epic Games Store's existence has been the best kept secret in an industry where secrets don't stay hidden for long. Leaks are a normal occurrence. We expect them. Dragon Age 4's announcement was leaked days before The Game Awards, after all. But the fact that no one leaked that both A44's Ashen (published by Annapurna Interactive) and SuperGiant's Hades were slated to be the first heavy-hitting indies on the Epic Games Store should be a cause for concern… at least for Valve.
Epic Games isn't just shaking things up with where consumers can buy their games. The company has echoed its sentiments with the Unreal Engine (and licensing fees): an 88/12 rev-share split, in favor of the developer. (And, as per their announcement back in July, it was all retroactive.) We rounded up what developers had to say about the Epic Games Store earlier this week, which was mostly positive, if not a touch skeptical.
We've provided analysis and context around what the Epic Games Store means for the industry, as well, noting that Steam has had "one misstep after another for the platform, with worsening discoverability issues, [and] muddy language and haphazard policy around permissible content." And, yes, we've even talked about how potentially problematic it is to have Steam Spy's founder (and the creator behind its algorithm), Sergey Galyonkin, spearheading the Epic Games Store marketplace.
But during last night's Game Awards, we saw the inkling of a dream of a thought that Steam might finally be dethroned as the crowned ruler of the digital marketplace kingdom. Epic Games Store's logo was prominent on a number of titles, including its two biggest exclusives, in addition to being included next to Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox on quite a few non-exclusives, as well. It was the one-two punch that Epic Games needed to solidify the store as a viable alternative to Steam.
These changes come slowly to mainstream adopters, much as we've seen with AR/VR. The early adopters prove that the concept will work, ie., those of us pre-ordering Hades on the Epic Games Store, while the mainstream waits to see if the platform will be successful enough to use in the long term. And while there's a level of convenience that goes along with using what you've always used (Steam's fairly ubiquitous), Epic Games is giving developers the out they've been looking for for years.
Much in the same way that it takes time for the mainstream to catch up when new tech (or a storefront) is released, it's going to take Valve a beat or two to come around to what may end up being the new world order. It's not to say that Steam's logo was absent, because it wasn't, nor was it absent from presenter Geoff Keighley's script during the ceremonies. But the fact that Epic Games Store went from zero to launched in 3 days flat should be enough to give the industry pause.
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