Buried in the deluge of E3 news this week was a story that caught my eye: Metro Exodus is available to buy on the Microsoft Store. Wait—the same Metro Exodus that became an Epic Store exclusive earlier this year, shortly before it was released?
Metro Exodus isn't alone. There are actually quite a few Epic exclusives either already on the Microsoft Store or coming to the store in the future. "Exclusive" may have less to do with only being available through Epic's launcher, and more to do with not being available on Steam, obviously Epic's biggest competitor.
Currently, Metro Exodus and Operencia: The Stolen Sun are available to buy from the Microsoft Store (Operencia's actually been there since April), and both are available in the Xbox Game Pass for PC. And their exclusivity windows definitely haven't run out: Operencia actually has a Steam page, with a release date of 2020 listed. You can also pre-order The Outer Worlds.
Another Epic exclusive, Afterparty, is coming to Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Julian Gollop's Phoenix Point will be available for both the Microsoft Store and Game Pass in September. If these other games are an indication, I'm guessing Afterparty will be on the MS Store proper, too.
Finding these games is a bit confusing. I first looked for them in the new Xbox beta app, which serves as an interface for Game Pass and also a new, game-focused skin for the Microsoft Store. It's the same store underneath, but without all the random apps and movies and stuff mixed in. But when I searched for Metro Exodus, it at first insisted I had to have the Xbox Game Pass to buy it. Later, that button mysteriously changed to a simple "Buy."
These games may only be on the Microsoft Store because they're a part of Game Pass, but the fact remains you can buy them separately. It's an alternative to purchasing them from the Epic Store—though maybe not a great one, as reviews on Metro Exodus point to some crashing issues. Microsoft recently said it's opening up its Windows store to support Win32 games, rather than just UWP. But both Operencia and Metro are UWP games.
Another possible explanation is that Epic simply doesn't consider the Microsoft Store much competition, and considering it's reviled as much or more than Epic's launcher, that's probably fair. But it just goes to show that in the 2019 PC store wars, nothing is staying the same for very long.