Epic Games used to be synonymous with Unreal Tournament, a game that I and millions of others adored and played over the course of the years. In recent memory though, people associate the company with the game Fortnite, which has been topping charts for months and according to SuperData and Wilhelm’s posting, raked in 2.4 Billion dollars over the course of last year. This begs the question — how do children and teenagers have this much disposable income? Their Battle Royale mode is free to play, and though it does have microtransactions for ridiculous skins for nearly everything in the game, I can’t seem to find anyone over the age of 21 who actually enjoys the game. People will go on and on about how you shouldn’t disparage <insert piece of media here> just because you don’t personally enjoy it, but I’m not that person. Fortnite is literal garbage and I can give you a few reasons why I think so.
My first issue with Fortnite is the game itself. For starters, it began as a co-op wave based game that sounded fun — that is until they tacked on this Battle Royale mode and turned the genre into the phenomenon it is today. I think it was pretty shitty of them to abandon the core game that many fellow Internet denizens enjoyed. It’s also over-the-top ridiculous but an otherwise dull Battle Royale experience. Despite not being much of a fan of the genre, I have still tried various iterations and have enjoyed some of them. I’ll take Battlerite Royale or Realm Royale over this dumpster fire any day. Despite it being clearly aimed at a wider audience, the appeal just isn’t there for most adults, probably due to the design choices along with the ability to literally build towers into the sky when you’re supposed to be shooting and killing your opponents. Take away that building component and the rainbow of bullshit and perhaps you’d have a better game. But then you’d probably have Unreal Tournament, and now we’ve come full circle.
But this article isn’t supposed to be about criticizing Fortnite itself, no this is supposed to be about how Epic Games have now opened their own storefront to compete with the likes of Steam. We first learned about the store prior to the end of last year, and Epic was touting the fact that it intends to take less of a cut for game sales on its platform. It’s easy to imagine them being able to afford this having made all of that cash with Fortnite. It seemed that the majority of us felt like there was no way that anyone could really compete with Steam though. Sure, there is the Humble Bundle Store that has sales around the same times of year and GOG that gives DRM-free options to get your game on, but they aren’t taking much business away from Steam. Honestly there are other options but most of them are less popular or sketchy so I’ll leave it at that. Whatever the case, Steam has been a major part of PC gamer’s lives since the early 2000’s. Other big companies like Blizzard, EA and Ubisoft have made their own launchers as well, but even then there was a period of time where their games were still available on Steam, you’d just have to go through the motions of launching a launcher from Steam which caused some people (like me) to completely boycott those companies just to cut down on the amount of launchers on our computers. I prefer consolidation, regardless of if that means “monopoly.”
I actually had the Epic Games launcher installed for a time, mainly because I was following the ongoing development of the next Unreal Tournament game. But due to the massive success of Fortnite, Epic decided to stop further development of UT, and for that I am even more cross with them. I’ve had Origin and Ubisoft’s launcher and I still have Battle.net installed. More recently I added Bethesda’s launcher to the mix and it’s getting to the point again that I don’t want all of these damn launchers. It feels like the golden age of MMOs all over again — needing 300 different launchers to play a variety of games. Origin and Ubisoft went the way of the dodo on my PC, and I decided that I would only play their games on console to avoid the clutter. I’m letting Bethesda slide a bit here because I love their games, but Fallout 76 has been a sore spot for most. I have only played it for a couple of hours due to waiting on them to sort out the issues, but that’s a story for another day.
What initially spurned this conversation piece was the most recent news that broke this week. It appears that Epic Games have managed to lure a company over to their store, even though the game had been available for preorder on Steam for months now. Apparently those customers that preordered on Steam will still get their copy on Steam, but the game’s store page will be taken off of the service soon. So if you want a copy of Metro: Exodus on Steam you should probably go ahead and grab that now while you can. From what I’ve read, Steam charges developers 30% of each sale made on the platform. I’m assuming that means that Epic is charging less, but I’m not sure what the actual percentage is. It’s a free market, and I guess I applaud someone for trying to stand up to the behemoth, but I can’t see this being good for gamers outside of potentially saving them money due to competition. What I see is an increasingly fractured player base or being stuck with a ton of launchers to play games when we really should have these titles releasing on all platforms to give players’ choice back.
I started a poll on Twitter to see what others might think about this occurrence and how they plan to proceed.
So with the Epic store trying to rival Steam for your PC gaming dollars, I present a poll. What would you do?
— Izlain of the Orzhov Syndicate (@mevsmyselfandi) January 29, 2019
For reference, I would vote to stick with Steam. I have far too many games on the platform and unless there is something exclusive to Epic that I can’t get anywhere else and NEED to play, I’m sticking to this. Even then, I’d probably just buy the game for console to avoid it altogether. I understand frugality though, so I included the option to bargain shop between the two, which seems to be the most popular to this point. I guess if you were just getting into PC gaming then you have the option to get your collection started with Epic but for me it’s just not something I want. I’m offended by Fortnite‘s existence and success, and I’m offended by Epic panning Unreal Tournament. That’s enough for me to not give them any dollars at all.