Epic Games, creators of the Unreal Engine and “Fortnite,” Tuesday announced that it is rolling out its own online store for computer games. The online Epic Games Store, which will launch “soon” with a curated selection of PC and Mac games, will grant developers 88 percent of revenue from sales.
“As a developer ourselves, we’ve always wanted access to a store with fair revenue-sharing that gives us direct access to our customers,” Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney told Variety. “Now that we’ve built such a store, and ‘Fortnite’ has brought in a huge audience of PC gamers, we’re working to open it up to all developers.”
Epic Games’ 12% cut of sales will replace the engine royalties the company usually collects on games made with its Unreal Engine for any revenue generated through the store. By comparison, Valve’s massive Steam store takes 20 to 30 percent of game revenue. The Epic Games Store, which is open to games developed on any game engine, will be accessible both through the Epic Games launch and on a dedicated website. A user will need to install the Epic Games launcher to download and update games purchased through the store.
The launch of the Epic Games Store puts it in competition with the likes of Valve’s Steam Store and the Microsoft Windows Store. Epic is also just the latest company to expand its online footprint — in this case a game launcher — into a store. Activision Blizzard, Discord, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft all have game stores tied to game launchers.
In the case of Epic, though, the online marketplace is starting out as a simple store, free of additional bells-and-whistles, including its own digital rights management solutions. Sweeney said that Epic hopes to expand the store’s offerings over time. This step into an expanded marketplace for Epic builds on the Epic Games Launcher, which currently carries Epic’s existing games as well as mod tools, and a marketplace for Unreal Engine game assets. At launch, the store won’t have a huge offering, Sweeney noted.
“We’re starting small, with a hand-picked set of games at launch,” he said. “We plan to grow throughout early 2019 and open the store up more widely later on. We’ll have an approval process for new developers to go through to release a title. It will mostly focus on the technical side of things and general quality. Except for adult-only content, we don’t plan to curate based on developers’ creative or artistic expression.
“Epic will manually curate the Epic Games storefront rather than relying on algorithms or paid ads. We believe the ultimate vector for players to discover new games will not be our storefront but creators. Viewership of creator channels has greatly outgrown any storefront.”
Epic is also rolling out something called a Support-A-Creator program alongside the store, Sweeney said. The program connects developers with over 10,000 creators, such as YouTube video makers and Twitch streamers. The Support-A-Creator program rewards creators for bringing exposure to game developers.
“Epic’s Support-A-Creator program was launched as a one-time event, but it’s now permanent and is available to all creators and all developers on the Epic Games store,” Sweeney said. “Creators will earn a share of revenue from each attributable sale, either by link or by manual creator tag entry, like in Fortnite. Developers will set the rate of the revenue share and Epic will pay the first 5% for the first 24 months. Developers will have immediate access to thousands of creators who can promote their titles in fun and entertaining ways, and they can automatically give creators free access to their game if they choose to.
“We believe this will make a more direct and sustainable connection between game developers and content creators such as streamers and video makers. There are currently more than 10,000 content creators in the program, with tens of millions of supporters, and that number is growing every day.”
Speaking to Game Informer, Sweeney added that the company hopes to roll-out support to both Android and IOS, though he notes that such a store would conflict with Apple’s policies. He also noted that Epic plans to “sometimes fund developers to release games exclusively through the store.”