Epic Games released the game Grand Theft Auto V (aka GTA 5) for free this past Thursday, resulting in the entire games store system crashing. The game, one of the best-selling video games ever made, was made free in order to bolster the usership of the Epic Games store – and do that it certainly did. The system of giving games away in the Epic Games Store will continue through the future, but the Grand Theft Auto 5 part will end (UPDATE: ended) on May 21, 2020, at 11AM Eastern Time.
The deal here is the game’s tie to the Epic Game Store. If you’re going to play the game, you’ll need to have an Epic Games account, and you’re going to need to keep the Epic Games Store downloaded. This system is very similar to that of Valve’s Steam, another game and media store that requires that you remain logged in, and that the store app remain downloaded.
This is all part of a strategy employed by many of the most massive technology companies in the world over the past several decades. Once a customer finds themselves inside an ecosystem, they’re more likely to stick within that ecosystem than drop everything and move to another store, with new software, and new purchases.
As such, Epic Games is solidifying the likelihood that a gamer would first download the Epic Games Store in the first place, then keep the system on their PC for the foreseeable future. I’ve already got GTAV in this system, it just makes sense to buy my next game here too, right?
UPDATE: Now that GTAV is no longer listed in the Epic Games Store as free, the switch has been made to Civilization 6. This is a similar deal, where the user can download the game and keep the game forever, for free, just so long as they’ve got their Epic Games Store and their Epic Games account. It’s all attached to that.