Epic’s Tim Sweeney on the Epic Games Store, self-publishing, and proper moderation

    
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Someone won.

Epic Games found itself in a spot of hot water recently when it was discovered that its Epic Games Store was pulling users’ Steam friends list data without permission — something that Epic says was an oversight that will soon be rectified — but that’s done little to deter Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney from extolling the virtues of his company’s platform. In fact, he did just that in a recent interview with Gamasutra, in which he delves into the ways he thinks the Epic Games Store will set itself apart from its primary competitor, Valve’s monolithic Steam.

Obviously, he touts the EGS’s relatively generous revenue-sharing split, which gives developers an 88% share of sales (rather than the “industry-standard” 70%), but that’s not the only reason he argues that devs — and players — should pick the EGS over Steam. Epic is also devoted to continuing its practice of releasing a free game every couple of weeks, which Sweeney says is a win-win-win situation: Epic supports the developers by paying them for the rights to release their games for free, Epic gets some extra traffic and publicity, and users get good games for the unbeatable price of zero dollars.

Sweeney also discusses the prospect of self-publishing for indie developers, a feature that he says is coming, though he promises that Epic will be applying “a reasonably high quality filter” to the offerings — games that feature pornographic content or that are “intentionally controversial” won’t find a home on the EGS.

“We’re perfectly fine with M-rated experiences like GTA or Far Cry,” Sweeney says, “but we’re not the place for the other stuff. For the bigger anti-social things.”

When asked how Epic will decide what makes the cut, Sweeney says, “Oh, there will be humans.” That’s right, actual human moderators — what a concept.

Source: Gamasutra
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Dobablo

Giving away free buy-to-play games is a horrible idea. It destroys value, discourages games from buying old classics, and diverts time and money from new games.
The only time free games should ever be considered as acceptable is as part of a promotion for new DLC or a sequel.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

How does it destroy value? How does it discourage gamers from buying old classics (I have increased my spending on GOG since I have more cash at hand thanks to the high value and quality games EGS has given away up to this point).

How does it divert time and money from new games? Who exactly is being diverted here? The games devs are still paid by Epic. Gamers have extra cash to spend on something else – like new games.

EGS isn’t the only site that does free games on a regular basis. Heck, even the deep discounts during the quarterly steam sales practically give games away for all intents and purposes.

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Dobablo

Last year I did not buy a copy of Divinity: Original Sin 2 because Twitch gave away Tyranny for free. Obsidian probably got far less from Amazon than I would have paid to Larian. Last month I did not buy Anthem, in part because I decided to play my free copy of Destiny 2. I was too busy to buy AC:O when it was released. Tomb Raider was 50% off on Steam last week but I still don’t have a copy.
My gaming time is increasingly dominated by the good free games that are constantly being added to my libraries. I have very little incentive to buy anything that is not heavily discounted because I won’t have the time to play it. This is great news for me but not for developers in need of pre-orders and day 1 full price sales to justify new games or extra content. My gaming spend is a fraction of what it was just a year ago.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

I didn’t buy Anthem either, but that’s because I have no interest in playing it. But plenty of other people did. Plenty of people also bought RD2, and I will most certainly buy it when it comes to PC, but only when it’s on sale.

You act like Free games or deep discounts are something bee as opposed to a practice that has been around for the last couple of decades. I can’t even recall the last game I bought as full price. It may have been Oblivion, or perhaps Skyriim. Regardless, the gaming industry certainly doesn’t seem to have come to any harm from this practice over the years.

Future game and content development don’t hinge completely on day 1 sales. Those sales, and any thereafter are recouping the investment already made to get the game in player’s hands. Future development hinges on the demand for it, which is based on popularity and ongoing margins.

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Dobablo

Deep discounts are different to free games. Discounted games are purchases I choose to make. Now my choices are being made by a third party who adds a similar game into my library. I would not be surprised if those free games were identified as potential alternatives to games on my wish list.
I was going to boost the metrics for Anthem and Divinity OS2, but Activision and Twitch stole my vote with free copies of Destiny2 and Tyranny.

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John Kiser

Then it sounds like you are projecting your own actions onto other people. Not everyone is going to do the same thing you would in a given situation.

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Kevin Smith

I don’t do the entire exclusive thing. If you are doing exclusives you are actually hurting the gaming industry as people like myself will avoid you like the plague. I don’t do console exclusives an I sure as hell will not do PC exclusives. Drop the exclusives an I might look at it, but not before.

It’s like he is trying to say oh look we are nicer to the devs, but in reality Epic has a far worse track record than Value to be honest.

After the stun they pulled where they had steam advertise for a game for months to then come in an say we signed an exclusive deal with this dev you can buy it here an only here now. It was a backroom slimeball move an things like that don’t make me like the devs or the publishers which are now Epic games exclusively.

If you are afraid to have games actually compete on other platforms it shows what you really think of your product to begin with.

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Robert Mann

Revenue share is the only thing they have. As to that, I do believe that is important in the long run. However, I am 100% unwilling to trust Epic after several of their issues, and I’m 100% unwilling to forgive the whole exclusive thing.

PC gaming is PC gaming. You try exclusives, and you lose me. I’ll stick with games from developers who select to avoid exclusivity deals and even download direct from them when possible (that’s 100% developers, not a store around going to beat that)! Alternatively, you can sign an exclusive with Epic, and I’m not buying your games period… for at least so long as you have this idea that exclusives belong on PC. (Hint, developing for different platforms is a reasonable excuse, but ideally you should aim for as many possible markets as you can.)

Bel
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Bel

Freebies aren’t going to work. Every store tries that. They eventually run out of good titles to give away and eventually, the good ones start showing up in bundles or for free on other stores. And, that’s honestly part of the reason some folks have “launcher fatigue.” You eventually start forgetting which games you have across all the stores from all the give aways. Maybe that’s the problem – the market is so saturated with decent to good games that they’re throwing them at us for market share and there’s only so much time/attention you can spend on games. Good problem to have as a gamer.

I don’t even think exclusives will work. The giant IPs will sell on their own store. Everything else is small enough for players to wait, unless it happens to be the one of a few games on your must buy list and then you might buy it, but you’ll probably go back to your storefront of choice just after.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Sweeney’s reasons for customers to pick EGS over Steam is pretty weak.

The ONLY advantage of EGS over Steam for the customers is that EGS’ games are curated while you have to sift through thousands of garbage games to find the good stuff. And even then that’s not really a big con for Steam.

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Armsbend

There is one more large reason. Epic is a relevant developer. Valve is not.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

But Arms, what about Artifact?! and Half-Life 3!

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Schmidt.Capela

Actually, between SFM, DotA2 (which I can play with the assets despite not playing the game), TF2, the Portal series, the L4D series, and the Half Life series, plus all the games modders made around those that Valve gives a platform on Steam, I still find Valve more relevant than Epic. Even if I disregard that while Epic is still using exclusivity deals it will be dead to me.

I’m into older games, though. It’s rare for the mix of games I play in any given week to not include at least a couple that are over a decade old.

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Bruno Brito

To be fair, none of the games you spoke of are new. No one doubts Valve WAS a great developer. Just they aren’t anymore.

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Jeremy Barnes

You make a good case that Epic may be getting into anti-trust territory here…They own Unreal, make games and have a store. Time to break them up into 3 companies.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

I have no issues whatsoever with what Epic does (except the data spying part which is not ok to do without user permission). They do what they think it is most profitable for them and nobody is stopping Valve from doing exactly the same. I am not sure whether the risk of alienating some customers is worth it compared to potential rewards but I’m sure they did necessary calculations and analysis, and if they will be wrong – that’s their problem ;-) As long as I still have the ability to play game on some platform – I am satisfied enough. If you don’t – well, that’s your problem (and the problem of platform which didn’t pay enough to get distributing rights).

Besides, with the way the games are rushed out to market – it’s better to wait some time for few patches than to play it at release date ;-) So people who want to play games only through Steam should be happy to see that when current Epic Store exclusives will come to Steam – they will come in a much more complete, less buggy way ;-)

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Hows the work on their refunds policy going?

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silverlock

I found out the hard way that the reason some titles (Genesis Alpha One for example) go exclusive on the Epic store is because they want to dodge the mixed review rating they would have gotten on Steam. Still I do like the free titles anyway.

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Dug From The Earth

Users, “Hey epic, you are stealing our private data without asking”
Epic, “No we arent”

a week later

Epic, “Of our nearly 100 million users, only 40% have steam”
Users, “How the HELL do you know that? Oh wait… data theft….. ”

Its kinda hard not to be paranoid of the 40% share Tencent has in Epic, because of things like this.

Honestly, this “We are saving the PC gaming industry” BS the Sweeney spews isnt much different than a classic mad scientist who is doing horrible experiments on people against their will in order to cure cancer” Im sure the Doctor would say, “We are saving the human race, dont you see the importance of this?”

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Rawsilver

As long as they force exclusive titles, I will not be buying from them. Nevermind they already got caught doing shady data theft shenanigans. Oversight, who are you kidding?