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Epic Game Store Redesign, User Reviews, Gifting Inbound

Epic Game Store is getting a redesign, user reviews, gifting, and much more over the coming year, the company announced during a talk at the Game Developers Conference Thursday.

The talk kicked off with Epic Games outlining the store’s “core values.” Sergey Galyonkin, Epic Game Store’s director of publishing strategy, said those values are: a fair share for all creators including developers influencers and modders, privacy consciousness which includes no third-party trackers, and curation by people not algorithms.

The talk took place directly before Valve’s talk about its dominant Steam store, a floor below at GDCValve’s popular PC gaming store has dominated the PC market for nearly 15 years, essentially without competition. While Valve doesn’t share numbers, it was estimated in 2013 that the store had about 75% of the market. In 2017, it was estimated that Steam sales brought in about $4.3 billion. Last year, Steam had more than 150 million registered accounts with a peak of 18.5 million concurrent users online.

But Valve’s dominance in the market has come under sudden assault by Epic Games, developers of “Fortnite” and market-dominant game engine Unreal. In December, Epic rolled out its own PC game store. While having to build out its storefront from essentially scratch, Epic’s offer of taking just 12% of sales from developers or publishers, compared to Valve’s 30% garnered it a lot of attention and managed to pull a number of games off of the Steam Store and onto the Epic Game Store as exclusives. Epic is also working to build out its user base by giving away a game every two weeks to anyone who registers for free with the store.

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Where Valve’s talk never specifically mentioned Epic, the same couldn’t be said of Epic’s talk.

Galyonkin noted that 85 million people use the Epic Game Store on PC and that according to two surveys Epic conducted of its users, 40%  do not have Steam and 68% do not use Steam regularly. He also pointed out that Epic Game Store has 55,000 registered creators and that there are 41 million players supporting creators.

Galyonkin then detailed the plans Epic has for its store in the coming months.

In terms of near future content, which he said would be in the next month to three, Epic plans to add install management, redesign the store page, improve DLC and patch sizes, and add cloud saves, among other things.

In the mid-term, which he said was four to six months out, Epic Game Store will get developer opt-in user reviews — he noted Epic is currently working on a solution to prevent review bombs, game wishlists, newsfeeds and the ability to follow games, price adjustment for bundles, some mod support, Epic Games overlap and library improvements.

In the long-term, which is more than six months out, the store will be adding achievements, multi-game sales, get a social overhaul, a loyalty program — though they don’t want to mimic the collectible card system Steam has because they don’t like it, and developer and publisher pages.

Finally, there are a number of things that are being worked on that could come out sooner or later than the above. Those items include automated refunds, gifting, and more language support, among other things.

Epic showed off a number of slides for the redesigns they’re working on, but noted that the slides were mock-ups with placeholder data — like fake prices — and that things could still change.

Galyonkin said that the company plans to continue to hand curate the games it has on its store, but that it wants to gradually open it up to more developers by the end of the year. Epic wrapped up the talk with an extensive Q&A.

In its talk about 30 minutes later, Valve detailed its approach to the Steam store, along with a new “events” feature and look for the library.

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