When the Epic Games Store was first announced, the general opinion was split into three camps: 1) wow, that Skull Trooper skin re-release must have earned bank 2) the annoyance at another launcher and 3) the realisation that Steam would finally have good competition. Epic’s fairer revenue share was the main attraction, but that a big publisher was going all in against the complacent Valve where the likes of Origin had previously half-assed it was worthy of attention.
With some goodwill backing them to go on and genuinely compete, Epic have worked pretty hard to, well, throw all of that goodwill away. The numerous timed exclusivity deals (the most recent being Phoenix Point, a move which went down about as well as that weird noir XCOM spin-off) have done nothing but put people back in Valve’s corner. One of the main attractions of PC gaming is the freedom of choice; exclusivity had always been more of a console move. By forcing fans to play games on a launcher that they didn’t want or ask for, they’re trying to force a connection to the Epic Games Store that simply isn’t going to happen.
Metro Exodus is one of the more infamous examples of exclusivity gone awry, a game that had been on sale through Steam for a long time before the exclusivity deal with Epic came along. Once the announcement came through, some (not all) fans took to review-bombing the older games in the series as an act of protest. While the effectiveness of this is up for debate, the situation was a sour one (and still is), leading one 4A Games developer to claim that new Metro games would not be sold at all on PC if this switch was not successful.
Despite such intense backlash since Epic started making so many moves for exclusivity, they show no signs of slowing down. It appears as if Epic have an aggressive marketing strategy that they’re so heavily invested in that they’ve become blinkered. The biggest reason why people aren’t naturally moving over to the Epic Games Store does have something to do with the games available, of which there aren’t that many, but the limitations of the store and the launcher itself is more a pressing concern.
At this point in time, the Epic Games Store feels like a beta product that’s been rushed out the door to appeal to developers over players. It’s lacking a great deal of features that should be requirements, which include but are not limited to: achievements, forums, user reviews, and guides. There’s also a persistent rumour about Epic selling data to the Chinese government that won’t go away, despite it being categorically denied by Epic themselves.
Where the Epic Games Store is at right now actually reminds me a lot of my football team, Everton, during the 2017/18 season. After receiving huge financial backing, Everton went on to splash the cash on players they didn’t really need, namely three players that occupied the same position — and they were all about as quick as turtles in quicksand, but that’s not important. They invested heavily in the bigger names, breaking their wage bill record in no time and giving players ludicrous wages to sign for them over other teams.
While the pedigree of these names on paper sounded great and led to many believing that they could really compete that season, it soon became apparent that they had been focusing on all of the wrong areas. They had no recognised striker, no pace, and no spine, and this imbalance went on to deflate any early season optimism within five matches. The money had pretty much just been thrown down the toilet; the manager was sacked and the team languished in mediocrity for the rest of the season.
Everton are still paying the price for this terrible acquisition strategy a season later, the depleted coffers and excessive wages stopping them from spending on new players (Marco Silva is also a bag of bollocks but let’s not get into that). They are seen as jokes by many, the team that rushed too quickly to get to the top and ended up somehow worse than they were before. It’s hard to see them ever getting to where they want to be now.
While I’m not saying that Epic are about to blow a two-goal lead against Newcastle, they are seriously in danger of making too many misjudged “transfers”. They need to learn to walk before they run, and no amount of exclusives are going to help them do that.