DARQ Creator Turned Down Epic Games Store Exclusivity Citing “Double Standards”

"I wish there wasn’t a double standard and indie developers were given an equal oportunity."

Darq review

In a big story from this weekend, Unfold Games, the indie team behind DARQ, addressed Epic’s approach to turn the monochromatic horror into an Epic Games Store exclusive for one year, which they turned down.

In a blog post, Unfold’s CEO Wlad Marhulets confirmed that Epic had approached him to bring DARQ to the Epic Games Store under the sole caveat that it would then be exclusive to the platform. Recognising that Steam users had been supporting it since 2018 and that it had been widely wishlisted, he declined the opportunity while also lamenting the “double standards” shown by Epic. DARQ is also available on GOG.

“I wish there wasn’t a double standard and indie developers were given an equal op[p]ortunity to sell their games across multiple store fronts,” wrote Marhulets, “so the players can enjoy what they seem to want the most: a choice.”

Marhulets went on to acknowledge that he may earn less money by neglecting the deal; Epic tend to throw money at projects to guarantee a safety net for the switch. He also recognised that switching platforms at the very last second might harm his longevity as a developer.

In the same blog post, Marhulets also shared the conversation between he and a member of the EGS team.

Darq EGS

Epic employee:

“Hi Wlad,

Thanks for getting back to us.

To be clear, and since we are pressed for time, we’d be interested in bringing the game exclusive to the Epic store. We aren’t in a position yet to open the store up to games that simship.

In exchange for a year of exclusivity, we do negotiate some sort of minimum guarantee based on sales projections for year one. You would recoup against that guarantee, but it’s a way to mitigate any sort of launch risk you may have.

Since you are launching soon, I wanted to be as upfront as possible about this opportunity. happy to jump on a video chat if you’re interested, but I wanted to be as upfront as possible. The game looks great, I’d love to have it here.”

Wlad’s response:

“I appreciate the clarification, [REDACTED]. Sadly, exclusivity is not an option at this point – we’ve just announced Steam[‘s] released date. DARQ is now one of the most wishlisted titles on Steam, so exclusivity would surely cause a backlash.

Hope we can work together in the future, when exclusivity is no longer a requirement.

Many thanks for your interest,

It’s refreshing to see a developer be open and honest about what goes on behind the scenes, as well as the fact that they’ve not lost sight of their audience for a comfort blanket. That being said, a lot of the developers making the shocking switch are being unfairly crucified; you never really know how much money and resources are being poured into a project, so them seeking financial security shouldn’t be overlooked.

This doesn’t stop Epic from playing a bit of a dirty game, though. My opinions on EGS have been made clear here before: I loved the idea of a Steam rival at the time, but the way Epic have gone about things has been rather callous and short-sighted. Neglecting player choice (from the same guys who pushed for cross-play) to chase poorly-conceived exclusivity deals is only going to make them look like the bad guys, and all of this before their store has the most basic of features.

It’s Epic who have missed out here because DARQ is a gem. From our review:

“Even if it may take you quicker than an afternoon nap to dust off, Darq is an experience that horror fans won’t want to miss.”

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