You'd be forgiven if you didn't notice that The Sinking City (opens in new tab) released last month. To find it on the Epic Store, you have to scroll past 15 big images promoting other games, some of which aren't even out yet, or search for it specifically. I'm not sure that's what developers who flocked to the store were hoping for.
At the start of the year, I thought Epic would slowly add new games to its budding store, and part of my reasoning came from the design. The storefront, which still looks like it did at launch, is not an efficient way to display a lot of games. It seemed to me that part of the appeal of selling through the Epic Store (aside from some guaranteed revenue upfront) was that your game would become part of a small library that hungry new Fortnite gamers would inevitably be drawn to.
I misjudged, clearly. Halfway through the year, there are now 103 games listed on the Epic Store, and there's still no way to view them as a tidy list, or sort them by genre, or see which just released. There's a section for "Upcoming Games" at the bottom, but there are also unreleased games available for pre-purchase mixed in with the other section.
What initially seemed like a feature of the store—that it was so exclusive a simple grid was all it needed—has become an issue due to Epic's aggressive growth strategy.
Still, Epic's 103 games is dwarfed by Steam's volume of more than 34,000, a number which has made discoverability a big challenge for Valve. Recently, it launched a 'recommender' that tries to guess what you'll like, and 'micro trailers' to help you see more of what the platform offers.
Because games on the Epic store are hand-picked, I doubt it'll ever need anything like that. Automated game submission has made digging for surprises part of the experience (and perhaps fun) of using Steam, whereas we all have a pretty good sense of what Epic offers: popular, glossy new games from well-known developers.
While Epic's probably right that most discovery will happen off-platform, it's not exactly unreasonable to ask for a list view. It's coming, eventually.
According to Epic's roadmap (opens in new tab), "library improvements" are supposed to come within the next three months, adding "sorting, filtering and different views to the library." Presumably those improvements will be applied to the store, as well—it wouldn't make much sense to build sorting solely for the library, where there are fewer games listed than on the store.
I'm not really worried that these basic tools won't come. They will, along with the other planned accouterments such as cloud saving and an overlay. I'm just shocked at how quickly Epic expanded its library. How many games will it be hosting exclusively or non-exclusively by the end of the year? The weekly free games (opens in new tab) Epic has been doling out will add to that pile.
With libraries becoming increasingly split between launchers—not just Steam and the Epic Store, but also Battle.net, Origin, and so on—GOG has seen an opportunity in uniting them, and the closed beta for GOG Galaxy 2.0 actually comes pretty close to pulling it off seamlessly. You can even sort games by which store you own them on.
Given how quickly the Epic Store is growing, GOG's efforts may be invaluable in a year's time. While Epic said at one time that it would eventually stop making deals for timed exclusives, it's not giving them up soon.
It'll be interesting to see what happens when Epic's timed exclusives start appearing on Steam next year. Even for those who have seen waves of criticism directed at them, the scenario may end up being a win-win for developers: a successful Epic Store run followed by a late bump from the holdouts who waited for a Steam release.