"We don't want to do that ever again," Epic Games Store boss Steve Allison said in March, in the wake of the uproar over Metro Exodus making a last-minute move from Steam to Epic. Then it did something very similar anyway with Anno 1800, although that game will remain available for pre-purchase on Steam until it launches—a fair compromise, I think, but a distinction that didn't make much of a difference in the eyes of unhappy gamers.
Earlier this week on Twitter, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney clarified the company's position, saying that after some post-GDC discussion, it was decided that the final call is ultimately up to individual developers and publishers.
We've had a lot of discussions about this since GDC. Epic is open to continuing to sign funding / exclusivity deals with willing developers and publishers regardless of their previous plans or announcements around Steam.April 1, 2019
"At GDC, Steve Allison said, 'We don't want to do that ever again' when asked about the Metro Exodus controversy," Sweeney tweeted. "This prompted further discussions at Epic, leading to the realization that these calls must be up to developers and publishers, and Epic wouldn’t tell them 'no' on account of existing statements made about Steam."
It's worth remembering that Allison's full comments were more nuanced than simply "we won't do that anymore," too. He said at GDC that Epic had been talking to Metro Exodus publisher Deep Silver "for a number of months" prior to the changeover, and that the problem from Epic's perspective wasn't making the game exclusive, but doing it so last-minute.
"Now we're live and we have a view out in time, and we can work with everybody … We have a case study where it says 'maybe we should make our decisions earlier,' and we will," Allison said.
And in the future, he said that Epic "will definitely not be doing [exclusives] on the scale we're doing them now."
Gearbox announced earlier today that Borderlands 3 will be an Epic Games Store exclusive for six months following its September 13 release.