Epic Games are making headlines for the wrong reasons again this month as they lock more games to their online store.
This won’t mean much to console gamers but many PC gamers are left frustrated by this emerging trend. Exclusivity is an important cornerstone of a competitive game market though so are Epic really doing anything wrong?
Epic Games are one of the leading conglomerates within the gaming industry. They aren’t one of the most recognisable game developers but they are the parent company for several industry leaders.
Perhaps their most significant contribution to the industry in the Unreal Engine. A large percentage of modern games run on Unreal Engine 4 and some are even still developed in the previous model.
Aside from that, they control the studios behind major game series’ like Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. As a first-party developer, they have also produced their fair share of hits such as Bulletstorm and Fortnite.
They courted controversy with the development Fortnite after supposedly stealing the idea from PUBG. Korean developer Bluehole took legal action against Epic Games over a supposed breach of copyright.
The Unreal Engine 4 powered PUBG, and Bluehole believed Epic Games used that advantageous position to usurp their model. Now Epic Games have caused a stir yet again with their newly formed online store.
Epic Games Online Store
The Epic Games Store only launched in December last year, in a bid to compete with Steam and Origin. The US conglomerate is looking to add a new pillar to their industry stranglehold and have wasted no time making enemies.
In just a few months Epic Games made headlines by announcing Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 would be exclusive to their store. The news was immediately met with fan backlash but Epic Games showed no signs of letting up by announcing more exclusives.
Obsidian’s Fallout successor The Outer World’s and Remedy’s Control were the latest AAA titles to be confirmed. In the case of the former though it will only be a temporary exclusivity with the game eventually coming to other stores post-release.
Exclusivity and Gaming
The concept is not at all a foreign one in the console market but PC gamers aren’t often held to the restrictions. Strong first-party exclusives are, in fact, a key selling point in the console wars.
Nintendo one of the biggest names in gaming has built their entire success around a strong roster of exclusives. Sony have also leapt ahead of the competition in the current generation with a strong line up themselves.
Uncharted, Last of Us, Spider-Man and God Of War to name a few have seen the PS4 dominate in sales. It appears Epic Games intends to adopt a similar model to help them compete with the established favourites.
Of course, these games will still be playable on the same PC regardless, which is a luxury console gamers don’t have. Indeed it seems like a sensible and just, business strategy from the outside, so what is the issue?
The Problem For PC Gamers
In short, the problem for PC gamers is the years of investment that has been established with stores like Steam. Most gamers would agree Steam is far from perfect, but the convenience and symmetry of the set up are its biggest draw.
PC gamers have spent years establishing online profiles, friends lists and achievements. Not to mention an extensive back catalogue of games playable from any PC. Therefore by switching stores, they’d be throwing all that away and essentially starting from scratch.
There are also concerns that Epic Games Store is currently an inferior product with poor support and service. Making it an undesirable option for most gamers. By locking AAA titles to that store, gamers are either forced to unhappily switch or miss out.
In truth though, there’s not much to be done about it. It’s hard to imagine Epic Games deviating from the course now. If anything more online stores are liable to follow suit and online exclusives will become a new emerging trend for PC gamers.