An old acquaintance: Clash about the 30%

Fortnite Screen
Photo by Vlad Gorshkov on Unsplash

Epic Games, the latest gaming hit, and the new fighters against the injustice from the “App Stores.”

The company changed a lot when their battle royale succeeded. Their profits shot up, so did their “influence”. Epic is also the developer of Unreal Engine; a popular component for the creation of videogames. Yet, their relevance in the industry wasn’t a big deal, until Tencent and Fortnite became part of the business that they were even able to raise $1.25B with ease.

PC Gaming
Photo by Balkouras Nicos on Unsplash

Fortnite released was done in an owned Launcher instead of in Steam — the well-known platform for PC gaming. Until last year, that launcher wasn’t a big thing either, but Epic decided to go ahead and develop its PC store, the Epic Games Store.

The store served two purposes, first and foremost, to diversify the business wallet with the tons of money they got. Second, to challenge the industry standards — shortly to challenge Steam.

At first sight, the proposition from Epic was good. They’d ask for less profit share. The common practice was to charge 30% of every sale, even at Xbox, Nintendo, and Playstation. Instead, they’d take only 12%.

The main problem was: how would the developers migrate from Steam to the Epic Store?

Users already owned a vast gallery of games in their accounts. The communities were functional and proper to the ecosystem.

Then, Epic announced that they would offer free games, plus the fact that Fortnite would be part of the store. Also, they arranged contracts with publishers and devs to have exclusivity for certain games. Some journalists and enterprises denounced these practices; basically, they were stealing publishers from Steam. Nevertheless, the programmed route didn’t change a thing.

The store is still missing features. The reliance on offers and discounts isn’t different from the rest, and the free games give some surprises from time to time but not enough to make Epic the first option in PC gaming.

Did the Epic Games Store change the industry at all?

A person playing video-games in a TV
Photo by Stem List on Unsplash

In June, EA announced that it was going to publish its game on Steam. Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn were both launched in Steam and Epic. The debate about that 30% profit share calmed down.

In the end, there wasn’t any relevant change.

What could happen from now on?

Mobile gaming users aren’t as knowledgeable as PC gaming users, and they also launched an official campaign against Apple with the #Freefortnite.

Practically, they are weaponizing their audience; the majority of them are kids and teens who don’t care about “profit share”; they only know that their favorite game is sharing something into Twitter that looks funny.
If we look back to how the Steam battle went on, nothing should happen this time; it isn’t like Epic could build its app store for phones. That’s why they needed an active campaign to “challenge the industry”.

As a marketer, what truly interested me was the timing of the campaign. I already reviewed the Marketing Activism part in an older post, and I won’t condemn Epic. But, if you pay attention to the popularity of Google and Apple, it isn’t good at the time; they’re in legal trials all around the world.

Google Logo
Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

It’s a great moment to go against the “big tech.” The population who play games is increasing, around 3.5B. Mobile gaming surge at a high pace during the quarantine and Fortnite is still one of the favorites. And Epic has more support as Sony and more companies have invested in it.

I’m not expecting any significant change in the business environment. Epic has run out of steam. They’re standing alone on the battlefield, unless justice goes in their side, anything would change.

It was an Epic try.

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Giancarlo P

Giancarlo P

DS & ML

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