Epic is making quite an epic name for itself, though not always in a good way. CEO Tim Sweeney’s tirade against Microsoft’s UWP platform and the more recent Fortnite on Android drama has given the game developer and publisher a more “pro-developer” image. And to actually put money where its mouth is, the company has just opened the doors to its shiny new Epic Games Store to entice developers with an 88/12 revenue sharing arrangement.
It seems that the gaming and mobile industry has adopted a 70/30 convention almost arbitrarily. That means that developers get 70% of profits while game and app stores get 30%. When it snubbed Google Play Store on Android, Epic Games made its position clear. That was too high a price to pay.
Epic’s store won’t just be yet another Steam clone. Its raison d’être is to become not just a place to buy great games but a place for great developers to really make a living. That’s why Epic Games is making them an offer they might not be able to refuse. Only 12% of profits will go to them. The rest, the sweet 88%, will go to developers. And if they’re using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, they can even waive the usual 5% royalty Epic requires them to pay.
Of course, Epic Games’ store has a long way to catch up with Steam’s catalog. Its launch titles include Supergiant Games’ (Bastion, Transistor) Hades, Annapurna/A44’s Ashen, and tinyBuild’s prequel title Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek. Every two weeks throughout 2019, the store will also feature one free game, starting with Subnautica on December 14 to 27 followed by Super Meat Boy on December 28 to January 10.
It’s clear that Epic Games is dangling the 88/12 carrot to get more developers on board. Its success, however, will largely depend on how easy its process is and how restrictive its policies are. At the moment, Valve’s Steam is also undergoing a period of introspection and review over controversial and NSFW content, though Epic’s small catalog probably doesn’t need such a policy yet.