Epic Games has announced its intention to take on the mighty Valve in the digital distribution market, launching the Epic Games Store and offering developers an 88 percent revenue share - considerably higher than the competition.

That Valve's Steam platform has the PC digital distribution market all-but sewn up is no secret, but it hasn't stopped a number of publishers vying for a slice of the pie. GOG.com, formerly known as Good Old Games before ditching its focus on out-of-print classic titles and branching out into modern games and non-gaming media, is one of the more successful; Lenovo's Legion Game Store is not expected to make much of an impact, by contrast.

Now, Epic Games - best known for the Unreal series and eponymous game engine, or more recently the collaborative survive-'em-up turned battle royale shooter Fortnite - has announced its own entry into the market with the Epic Games Store. 'As a developer ourselves, we have always wanted a platform with great economics that connects us directly with our players,' claims Epic Games founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney of the plan. 'Thanks to the success of Fortnite, we now have this and are ready to share it with other developers.'

The Epic Games Store aims to differentiate itself from Valve's Steam with a focus on giving developers a bigger cut of the proceeds: Where Steam gives developers 70 percent of a game's revenue - recently extended to 75 percent and 80 percent for games which pass a $10 million and $50 million revenue milestone - Epic will give them 88 percent, keeping just 12 percent of the net sales price for itself.

While the store will carry Epic branding, it's open to all: The company has confirmed it will allow games on any engine to be listed on the service, though those using the company's own Unreal Engine will have the added bonus of having engine-related royalties waived for all sales made through the Epic Games Store. The platform will also include a feature dubbed Support-A-Creator, which connects developers with around 10,000 content creators including YouTube video makers and Twitch streamers for improved exposure.

The launch does come at a cost, however: Sweeney has confirmed in an interview with Variety that his company's success with Fortnite and new focus on the store means that development on Unreal Tournament, one of the company's most loved franchises, has ceased - though Epic is working with GOG.com to bring additional classic titles in the franchise, and others from Epic's storied history, to the platform.

The Epic Games Store is said to be launching 'soon' for Windows and macOS, with no word yet on Linux compatibility, with details on 'hand-curated' launch games to be provided later this week as part of the Game Awards event.

UPDATE 2018201207

Epic has officially launched the Game Store site, and to encourage users to install it have pledged to give away a game every fortnight for the rest of 2018 and the entirety of 2019 - starting with Subnautica, to be followed by Super Meat Boy.

Other games available at launch include Supergiant Games' early-access title Hades, Tinybuild's Hello Neighbor Hide & Seek, and Annapurna Interactive's Ashen, with THQ Nordic's Darksiders III, Coffee Stain's Satisfactory, Double Damage's Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, Annapurna's Outer Wilds and Journey - giving Epic, interestingly, an exclusive on the game's PC port - Tripwire's Man Eater, Saber Interactive's World War Z, and Team 17's Genesis Alpha One all coming soon.

Epic has also listed some of its own titles, including the free Unreal Tournament and Fortnite and the paid-for Shadow Complex. The site also includes mod editors for games including Conan Exiles, Dark and Light, ARK, and Bus Simulator 18.

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October 14 2021 | 15:04