If you are a PC gamer, there’s really only one destination for buying games, and that’s Steam. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s often pretty affordable, thanks to the numerous sales that the platform often runs. Steam is the undisputed king of video game sales on the internet, but Epic Games is looking into potentially opposing that dominance.
Epic Games developed the popular hit Fortnite back in September of 2017. The battle royale game has garnered a legion of fans and players that numbers in the millions, and it is estimated that the game has resulted in over $4 billion in profit for the company. That’s a lot of money, and Epic is using it to support their next major endeavor, which is creating a new platform for people to buy games from.
Naturally, this is going to be an internet venture; video games, like movies and books, are rarely bought at brick and mortar stores anymore, with places like GameStop struggling to even stay in business. Revenue from PC game sales is expected to rise about 4% this year, from the $35.7 billion of 2018. There’s no denying that the only profitable way to go is online, and that of course means that Steam is going to be Epic’s primary contender.
That said, Epic has already gotten its foot in the door, with the Epic Games Store they released back in December. In order to compete with Steam, they’ve been poaching game developers away from them by offering a larger cut of the revenue to the developers themselves. It also offers access to exclusive sequels, and prices that are often much lower than Steam. It even has the backing of major companies, such as the Chinese tech company Tencent.
But even with all of that, Steam is still a major obstacle for them. A vast majority of game developers that use Steam have stated that approximately 75% of their revenue from PC game sales came from the platform. Naturally, this makes for a lot of money for Valve, Steam’s designer, as they usually keep about 30% of the revenue from sold games.
It’s no secret as to why Epic would like to create a similar system; there’s a lot more financial security in having your own platform for selling games, where you can have constantly recurring revenue. It’s much safer than having to rely on putting out a huge hit at a regular interval.
But can Epic actually pose a credible threat to Steam? Quite frankly, they have a shot. They have more than enough money to back their platform, and are offering a much better deal to game developers than Steam does, netting them a wide array of companies whose games they can sell. They even offer access to the Chinese market thanks to Tencent.
Still, it won’t be easy to take down a giant who has been around since 2003. Steam has a great reputation, and reputations are the hardest thing for a newcomer to take down when the competition begins. Still though, Epic Games isn’t some small time company uselessly flailing against the inevitable; given enough time, they could very well build a platform that rivals Steam.