Wow. What a way to start off the New Year folks. With some good old classic capitalistic competition. Now a bit of a preface. I’m about to turn 28. I’ve been a gamer since I was about 5 years old. I’ve been primarily a PC gamer for at least the last 10 years. The entirety of my time as a PC gamer has been me playing games bought through the digital storefront known as Steam which is operated by the company Valve. Valve for at least the last 8 years has held a 50-80% grip of the purchases made for PC games as a whole. (source: https://esportsobserver.com/steam-earned-estimated-4-billion-2017/) The other storefronts include BattleNet, Origin, Good Old Games, Bethesda’s launcher, uPlay, and now Epic Games Store. Needless to see, the near monopoly that Steam has on PC Gaming has been a point of discussion for years in the gaming community.
Recently, Epic Games Store announced that they will be exclusively selling the game Metro Exodus as an exclusive through their storefront. This is the biggest shot sent in Steam direction possibly ever. Here’s why. Origin, uPlay, and Bethesda have struggled to make any headway in the market of digital gaming sales. This is partially due to the fact that they started their storefronts to avoid giving Valve a 30% cut from every game they sell through Steam.
The storefronts I mentioned before were started by the following companies in the order I mentioned previously. Activision-Blizzard. Electronic Arts. CD Projekt. Bethesda Softworks. Ubisoft and Epic Games. They all have sold games through Steam and with the exception of Electronic Arts, they all still do. This is because most of the other digital storefronts only sell games they make themselves whereas Steam and GoG sell games they make as well as a massive amount of 3rd party titles.
Moving back to Epic Games’ announcement, they announced that the game Metro Exodus will be exclusively on their platform. Here’s the kicker. The game has been available for pre-order on Steam for months. Here’s the other foot swinging. The game comes out February 15th. The game has since been pulled from Steam. This is a big shot at Valve because Metro Exodus is the 3rd in a critical and financial franchise known as the Metro series, a first-person shooter based in an apocalyptic alt-history post-WWII Russia. Valve made an announcement regarding this heist and how the games’ developer and publisher will be handling the situation.
This is a very interesting move as it rocks the boat for Valve. Another factor that will be in play in this new war for your PC gaming dollar is that the Epic Games Store only takes 10% of all sales on their platform vs. Steam’s 30%. This, along with the other timed exclusives on the platform may force Valve to make improvements on not only their storefront’s functionality but their willingness to help out those who sell games on their platform.
Either way, its good to finally see some big moves towards some actual competition for Valve and their Steam storefront. They’ve been becoming stagnant in recent years by allowing very poor quality games into their store as well as dragging their feet by developing a much-needed interface update for their storefront. As it stands, you can log into Steam and see that the Store page is filled with a few big known titles and a pile of games that are of low quality.
A lot of which are games made in cheap programs that flip assets in order to be made very quickly. By them trying to appeal to the indie gaming market, they have allowed their store to be flooded with very poor product. Hopefully, some actual competition for Steam will be what they need to improve their product as well as their relations with game developers.
You can read more from Malcolm Ault on Think Liberty here.