Epic Games Store has arrived to change the PC store rules.
When a game is published through a storefront, game creator must share a part of its earnings with the storefront operator. For years, content creators have been used to a 70%/30% revenue split in all major storefronts (Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Steam…), and this always seemed to be an unbreakable limit, something that was not perceived to change.
In August 2017 Tim Sweeney, Epic Games founder, already hinted at the fact that those revenue sharings were being very profitable for storefront operators, and that Valve could still profit even setting its cut to 8% (leaving 92% for the content creator), however, the current status remained, as Valve, with its large leadership in PC games, had almost no competitors that would force them to improve it.
The first sign something was going to change started in August 2018, when Epic Games decided not to publish Fortnite Battle Royale in Android through the Google Play Store, using its own store instead, in order to avoid the high revenue cut (30%) that Google took on each sale (including microtransactions). This caused a large backslash from players, as installation required disabling Android security restrictions, but this made game content creators perceive that 30% was starting to be too much, especially for highest-grossing games, and that other alternatives were needed.
This made Valve make a move and announced that they were going to revise their pricing policy, and last December, they made it public, but what could have been good news for all game creators, became a disappointment, as the revised revenue splits only applied to high grossing games: Valve revenue was cut to 25% for games selling over $10 million, and 20% for games selling over $50 million. Most game creators see it as just a movement to try to keep AAA publishers from creating their own distribution stores and made indie developers angry, as they, not being “big enough” for Steam, were left out of the revenue increase.
Just a week later Epic Games shook the entire industry when they announced their Epic Games Store. A storefront for PC games, like Steam, but with a 88% cut for game creators, and just a 12% for Epic. Also, when using Unreal Engine, the additional 5% revenue that had to be paid to Epic (creators of the Unreal Engine) was waived when publishing in the Epic Game Store (but it was still applying to other stores, like Steam). That effectively also made Unreal Engine free, and able to compete with Unity in the same grounds, as long as the games were published in the Epic Games Store.
Do you think we’ll see this revenue changes in other storefronts (Apple, Android, Sony, Microsoft)?