Epic hasn't been announcing Epic Games Store exclusivity deals at the rate it once was, but if it seemed like one of the least-popular PC gaming business strategies of the past decade was on the way out: it ain't.
In a call about the new Epic Games Store self-publishing tools (opens in new tab) earlier this week, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney told me that the company hasn't changed its philosophy around exclusives, but if it feels like there are fewer lately, that may be because it's going after bigger fish these days.
"We're really honing our strategy based on what we observed worked really well in previous launches, and what didn't work really well," said Sweeney. "A handful of major exclusives really moved the needle … and the smaller games, especially games that had a smaller audience that was typically on Steam, we found that a lot of those players weren't willing to move over."
One of those hit exclusives was Borderlands 3, which "has just crushed, like, well beyond the expectations of the developers and the publishers," Epic Games Store general manager Steve Allison told me on the same call.
Also part of Epic's ongoing exclusivity strategy is its relatively new game publishing wing, which is funding the development of several upcoming games, including Alan Wake 2 from Remedy, a new game from Limbo developer Playdead, and a game from The Last Guardian studio genDesign.
If there were any doubt that these games would be Epic Games Store exclusives on PC, let it be dispelled now. They will be exclusive for "a long time," Allison told me.
Those are just the upcoming Epic-published games we know about. The company has about 14 games in total coming from publishing partners. That includes PC Building Simulator 2, as well as a few games from Fall Guys creator Mediatonic, which Epic bought in 2021 and has a publishing operation of its own. Another Epic-published game from a small studio will be announced at GDC later this month, Allison says, and more will be revealed later this year.
Allison also told me that they've seen publishers run timed Epic Store exclusives without any deal: They just want to take advantage of Epic's better revenue share for their launch sales before later releasing on Steam. That's why Rockstar put Red Dead Redemption 2 on the Epic Games Store a few weeks before Steam, Allison says.
Aside from exclusives, Epic is also continuing a much more popular strategy for bringing in new Epic Games Store users: giving away free games. The company announced today (opens in new tab) that it'll keep up the weekly giveaways it started in 2019 at least through the rest of 2023.