I have stayed out of the discussion on epic games deciding to spread out into becoming a fully fledged store and having their own exclusives trying to compete with the success of the steam store by valve being the primary marketplace for maintaining your game library on the pc, however with the latest news on metro exodus actively removing their game from the steam store despite having had it up for pre-orders for some time and even word of physical store copies including steam codes but removing all of this last minute to have it’s own exodus over to the epic games store
This move however goes to show that my feelings on the matter were right all along and far from the rhetoric of this being a great thing for the consumer providing further choice in where to purchase your games and increased competition bringing prices down instead it goes to prove that it’s just an attempt to cash in on the marketplace by epic games using the billions they’ve earned through their free to play game fortnite to invest in building their own store and paying off developers to have their games exclusive on their marketplace trying to run steam out of the business and paying off consumers in some forms by providing a vast number of free games at periods throughout the year as an incentive to change to their platform.
Epic games have been stated to offer developers 88% share vs steam offering devs only 70% and many have claimed that this would provide the opportunity for prices to be offered cheaper however in my opinion it just means that actually developers would simply just make larger profits selling on their platform and in actuality prices would remain stagnant as the developers choose the pricing structure and knowing customers are happy to pay X for the game they would simply choose to gain larger profits as opposed to offer any savings to the customers.
Obviously there are many reasons a developer would choose to offer a game on steam as opposed to epic mostly being the increased customer usage base and how many users like to have their entire game library under one DRM giant, and having been using steam for years they would have loyalty and wish for their games to be accessible on steam, some might even pay a premium to keep their titles all under the steam umbrella. However this move by metro having their game removed from the store despite being up for pre purchase for a while goes to show that this isn’t about offering greater consumer choice it’s about greed as not only have the metro devs been paid to be exclusive on the epic launcher but also they will get a greater share of the cut. Rumours are that the US price has dropped slightly however the UK price seems to remain the same between the pre release steam and the epic store price.
This move shows that this isn’t about end user customers or about providing more consumer options for purchase as if this was the case the devs would still list the game on the steam store and the choice would be offered for those wishing to make a purchase which platform they would rather play it on and keep their library under. However this clearly shows that epic store are actively trying to take down steam and clearly this has resonated with gamers who are actively boycotting metro and epic games because of this move. Sure they are claiming that those who purchased in advance will still get updates on the game and be able to play through steam it’s just that it’s no longer available for purchase on the store, but this just highlights that this is indeed active moves to invest the profits from fortnite scales into attempts to take on and take down the gaming giant, and people aren’t going to be happy about their primary marketplace for games coming under threat in any sense.
Desura is a platform which use to exist in the gaming marketplace and was pretty large in itself offering a publishing platform for any game that wished to list itself there and was considered a competitor to steam however this company went out of business suffering problems with their company and operating in the marketplace, since this went under steam itself went through some changes with developers demanding the ability to publish their games and this lead to the steam greenlight process which was eventually removed due to lack of use and abuse of the system and now any dev can publish directly to steam by simply paying the fee and this has lead to vast releases of shovelware and basic game clones along with some controversy over bitcoin miners and viruses being released on the platform as well as the barely cobbled together youtuber bait shovelled out to get a profit.
Steam has implemented some methods of adding additional monetisation to the platform itself with it’s innovative idea of offering steam trading cards, emote icons and profile backgrounds which are essentially just artificial digital content collectibles that can be traded on the steam marketplace for digital currency to spend on the steam store (or to buy further collectibles) and this is a clever move to keep an income stream from providing a sales platform for these games especially where developers might be giving away vast numbers of keys for free and using valves servers in a less than agreeable way. This was a clever move by the platform taking a percentage of the sale of the digital goods whilst also providing a percentage to the devs and the rest going to the user selling them on the platform and this has created it’s own digital marketplace which as with all things some people abuse the system both on devs and user ends though I can see how this does a good job of mitigating risk providing a platform for these small devs to publish their games on the platform.
This adds further reasons why people might want to be able to purchase on steam also, having collectable trading cards for their games as well as the achievement tracking system and steam profiles and the interesting things steam does during it’s more increasingly than semi annual sales now, though the summer and winter sales often have special events, though to a lesser degree since the steam coal collectable scandal of 2011 where steam users could earn a prize for performing steam achievements in game especially created for the winter sale, some far more difficult to achieve than others. Of course this system was abused by many who not only used cheat engines to get all the achievements but also multi accounted to get the prizes from very cheap and free to play games and farm for the coal. Why did they do this you ask? Because coal wasn’t the only thing on offer there were also games as prizes and other digital content including big discounts off already discounted games, and 7 lumps of coal could be refined into games as well so there was a large potential for free games and greedy people abused the system heavily which ruined things for those legitimately putting the time and effort into getting the achievements properly, and having the fun of playing and trying to earn these in the attempt of getting a reward with a chance of a game but mostly ending up with consolation coal.
Further sales since then have had lesser abuse heavy systems with a fair way of gaining the rewards for all, often involving trading cards or going through clicker based mini games they’ve specially launched for the sales in an attempt to keep the fun aspect of doing something special for the sales but in a fair way that isn’t abused by many. This also goes to show how much effort steam make in keeping their platform the top of the leaderboards and first choice for consumers when they wish to purchase their games by going above and beyond expectations and being very generous at seasonal sale times when many would have in the past cashed in on the full retail price knowing people are trying to get them as gifts during these times and has lead to an industry wide sales time for all following steam’s example.
This move has clearly alienated a lot of customers both from metro but also the epic store itself as loyalty to steam by many customers goes a long way, and it’s hard to say how this will effect the industry and what steam will do to combat this move, as in the past where some indie devs with popular and good games were going over to epic for their launches was an initial step in taking on the giant as they have some interesting games like ashen and super meatboy forever coming out on their platform and not steam, but actively stealing larger developers titles already listed in the steam marketplace for exclusives both taking metro exodus and also the walking dead’s final season from steam despite telltale going under the final episode of the final season of the very popular walking dead title migrated to epic alone despite having sales on steam and this is a worrying sign that all of the money made from fortnites success is being used to migrate popular titles over to the epic platform.
With the case of the walking dead it could be seen as a generous influx of funds to try and save the developer and provide them as a platform in exchange, however the metro move can only be seen as greed and also taints other migrations to the platform as well as the exclusivity of the other indie games as this is not a wise move. Had metro exodus never been offered or provided on steam this would have a very different public perception however both epic and the developers of metro must appreciate the public backlash by the move they have performed here and how this will effect their reputations and the reputations of all developers choosing to go exclusive on the epic games platform.
If this was indeed offering further customer choice then new games such as metro exodus would be also available on the steam store, and epic could compete by offering better prices if that was indeed the case and this was additional competition allowing savings to the end user customer it’s just that these actions seem to show otherwise and that this is all about taking down steam and denying them the ability to sell big titles boasting instead exclusivity on their platform having paid them off to make the move.
I am very interested to see how this story progresses because steam surely won’t take this move lying down and I expect them to perhaps offer secret better rates to larger developers in order to keep good titles coming over to steam, and perhaps they might invent some new incentives or other special unthought of methods much like steam trading cards was an unthinkable thing in the past but has proved a great success for themselves and also the developers using them as additional cash streams (and lets face it you would have to consider the income streams from steam trading cards in the balance of a fixed sales percentage being better in the calculation too because long term marketplace of these trading cards could provide far more income than the additional percentage cut of the initial sale) It is worth noting that sales already finalised on steam of metro exodus are stated to be held up and will include future updates however I still feel this doesn’t make up for the fact that they have essentially been paid to boycott steam in favour of epic.
I would expect steam to be coming out with some response to this in their platform in order to remain the industry leader in choice of gaming platform, and never forget that platforms like these aren’t too big to fail as many state and I would be heartbroken to see steam go under so of course in the battle I choose the side of steam and I hope you would too, so I can understand why many are boycotting epic games as a result of this move along with the metro developers. I like you will just have to stay tuned as this drama escalates and I don’t think this is the end of it, officially the DRM platform wars have begun.