Ubisoft isn't too impressed with how Steam is doing business these days, at least according to Chris Early, the publisher's Vice President For Partnerships And Revenue, speaking to the New York Times. He's not the only voice critical of the monolithic digital retailer either.
While the Epic Games Store might draw a lot of flak from users in comment boxes across the internet, the sentiment from within the industry seems to be that Valve's steep 30 percent revenue cut and hands-off approach isn't cutting it. While Ubisoft still sell many of their games via Steam, there are some titles (such as The Division 2 and Anno 1800) which are available only through Ubisoft's own digital store, Uplay (where the publisher naturally claims 100% of the takings) and the Epic Games Store, which takes a significantly lower 12% split of the profits.
The New York Times also spoke to developers like Greg Kasavin (Supergiant Games) and Tommy Refenes (Team Meat), who both point out that things can be improved across the board, and that it's going to take competition between big, well-funded studios to make that happen. "The console cycles were always best when the rivalry is heated", says Kasavin.
Of course, there's more to this conflict than just Steam versus Epic. Even with major publishers like EA and Ubisoft able to lend their clout to one side or another, they have their own ambitions. EA's store, Origin, already offers Origin Access, a monthly subscription service giving access to almost all of their games. Ubisoft are rolling out their own competitor, Uplay Plus, this September 3rd. All the big players are trying to carve out their own niches.
And on the horizon, we've got Google with their streaming service, Stadia. While I have my doubts whether it'll find much traction outside parts of America with very strong broadband, it will only become more viable a business model over time, further challenging the concept of ownership of games and even the hardware that they're played on. Epic and Valve may be the main event right now according to the developers and publishers the NYT spoke with, but there's potential for far more disruption than mere timed exclusives between rival stores.