BY ROBERT KOUMARELAS
If you’re a gamer, and especially a PC computer gamer, you’ve probably heard about the recent news surrounding the competition between Epic Games and Steam over selling triple A game developer’s products on their sites.
Starting in 2003, Steam was developed by Valve Corporation as a digital distribution platform to sell other video game publishers’ games all over the world. The platform has largely gone unchallenged by other companies, until Epic Games, building on the massively successful IP Fortnite, created their own store called the Epic Gaming Store.
Timothy Stanick, a student in Sheridan Computer Programing program and long-time PC gamer weighed in on the controversy. “Steams current publishing costs are at least triple of what Epic’s are, so they’re making some bold moves to undercut the competition.”
Steam has received criticism for its hefty 30% cut of any profits from game revenue, where as Epic is only taking 12% of profits and allowing developers to use their Unreal Engine without paying royalties for use. Such a deal has been quite tempting for developers such as Ubisoft and 4A games, both of which recently announced they would be selling their newest games exclusively to Epic’s Store.
“I think they’ve gotten comfortable getting to a point where they can charge whatever they want and everyone just has to fall in line. So now that there’s someone out there who’s going to cause some competition, I think it’s going to cause them the rethink their business strategy,” said Stanick.
This news however has upset much of the fanbase of both developers, seeing it as a betrayal to fans who were supportive of the companies. Many have taken to social media saying they would boycott the games as long as they were being sold on Epic.
Liam Peixoto, a second-year Sheridan Game Design student believes that many of these fans are unfairly targeting the dev’s for their decision. “I personally don’t think it’s really all that justified because there’s no reason why you couldn’t have both accounts. You get a Steam account and you buy those games, you get an Epic Games account and you buy those games. It’s not like if you get Steam your restricted from getting the other, you can support both, support both, you can support neither, it’s all based on personal preference.”
The terms of Epic sit well with developers, but many customers believe Epic to be vastly inferior to Steam, as it currently only has one of the same features that Steam already has and is not considered to be user friendly.
“Their store is complete trash… User security is at risk, there’s been multiple accounts where people have had their security details leaked because the store doesn’t have a very secure system. There’s also no user interface, there’s not a lot of customer support in terms of how the store is run where if you try and email them for help, they won’t even respond to you at times,” said Peixoto.
Though Epic may shift many Steam customers to their own store, it will be an uphill battle to directly compete. Steam has existed since 2003 and still has several triple A developers continuing the partnership because of a much more established customer base.
“To have that library and reputation and community built along with all the technical support… I think they are so far ahead of the game it’s definitely going to take a few years for anyone to catch-up, and it’s also going to be difficult for Epic to catch up because so many gamers have such large libraries within Steam. that’s where they’re comfortable buying,” said Stanick.
One thing for certain is that Epic’s rising stardom is going to disrupt the long-established PC gaming community in 2019.