Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to defend his company's strategy of securing exclusive distribution rights for games on PC. Sweeney said it's the only viable way to change what he calls the status quo of the games industry and that ultimately, it's good for players.
Responding to some players discussing the value of exclusives, Sweeney laid out his thinking on the matter in some detail in a multi-tweet thread. In it, he explains that Steam's 70/30 price cut will only change if alternative online stores can crack Steam's dominance in the market. So far, independent game stores haven't been able to reach even five percent of Steam's scale, he said.
"This leads to the strategy of exclusives which, though unpopular with dedicated Steam gamers, do work, as established by the major publisher storefronts [EA's Origin and Ubisoft's Uplay, for example] and by the key Epic Games store releases compared to their former Steam revenue projections and their actual console sales," he said.
This question gets to the core of Epic’s strategy for competing with dominant storefronts. We believe exclusives are the only strategy that will change the 70/30 status quo at a large enough scale to permanently affect the whole game industry.June 25, 2019
Sweeney went on to say that Valve's 30 percent cut on games' sales—which he called a "store tax"—often exceeds a game's actual profits, and that this is "a disastrous situation for developers and publishers alike."
"I believe the strategy of exclusives is proportionate to the problem," he said.
Ultimately, Sweeney said, going from a 70/30 split to Epic's 88/12 split will lead to more reinvestment in games and price reduction, both of which carry tangible benefits for players.
Epic Games Store exclusives have been controversial among players, particularly in the cases of games like Metro Exodus that began pre-orders on Steam only to agree to Epic exclusivity later. And Sweeney has criticized Valve's 30 percent share on Twitter in the past as well, calling it a "#1 problem for PC developers, publishers, and everyone who relies on those businesses for their livelihood." He's also suggested that Epic will stop pursuing exclusives if Valve changes its revenue split to something more like Epic's.
"Of course, there are LOTS of challenges along the way," he concluded, "and Epic is fully committed to solving all problems that arise for gamers are for our partners as the Epic Games store grows.