Risk Group: Games Likely to Become Epic Games Store Exclusives
In these strange times when no one can be trusted, we looked closely at upcoming PC titles and selected a few that seem suspicious enough to come to the ‘’epic’’ side
Presented in December 2018, the Epic Games Store launched with a series of exclusive games — something that seemed surprising but made sense. With the audience much smaller than Steam has — its main competitor — EGS had to offer something Gabe’s store didn’t have. Hence, exclusive titles. However, the way Epic Games acquired these games was rather aggressive and some found it unethical, saying that the company simply buys developers.
Over the past half a year, numerous games were pulled from Steam or simply didn’t make it there. Instead, you now can purchase them on the Epic Games Store. Or, if you are willing to wait, buy some of them in another store a bit later. This way, Metro Exodus, The Outer Worlds and Borderlands 3 will be available for Steam advocates after release.
With this in mind, we decided to look at future releases which are likely to become the next in this ‘’series of epic events’’. But first, let’s see what may influence games’ appearance in the Epic Games Store.
What affects the choice
One of such factors is using the Unreal Engine. At first, developers had to pay for UE software, but since 2015 the game engine has been available for free. Studios, however, have to pay 5% of gross revenue after the game brings $3,000. With EGS having launched, they have a new option — not paying the royalty if the game is listed in the store. However, Unity-based titles are also welcome as well as other engines, so it’s not an ultimate factor.
Another reason could simply be money. It is said that Tim Sweeney’s company offers a sweet deal for those willing to accept it. Developers might experience financial problems and might make a deal with Epic Games hoping to solve them. This could be because of poor sales of previous titles or unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign. Or it could be a relatively new studio founded by a well-known developer who worked on big hits back in the day. And as we know, startups require some investment.
This way, Phoenix Point Developers, Snapshot Games, are said to have received around $2 million. The game was crowdfunded via the Fig platform, and users were promised to receive it via Steam, but it didn’t happen this way. Julian Gollop, the founder of the company and one of the X-COM creators, announced that the new tactical strategy will not be available on Steam on launch, which outraged some fans.
But it doesn’t have to be an act of evil as it may seem. For some, making a deal with Epic Games is actually a chance to continue the development process. Small studios are often undermanned and don’t have enough budget to realize their project. Indie developer Gwen Frey is one of them as she tweeted about how arranging a deal with Epic Games helped with developing her game Kine. Being a solo developer, Gwen struggled to make the game as good as she wanted. The deal made it possible to hire artists and spend additional time on development.
Another thing that is worth paying attention to is a publisher. For instance, Deep Silver/Koch Media who released Metro Exodus on EGS. Many should remember what backlash followed when the game was pulled from Steam a couple of weeks before release. Fans criticized the developers, 4A Games, but the decision belonged to publisher Deep Silver. Moreover, THQ Nordic said they did not deny the possibility of releasing EGS exclusives.
Other such publishers who already released games on EGS and are likely to continue doing so include Devolver Digital (Observation), Focus Home Interactive (World War Z), 505 Games (Control, Journey to the Savage Planet), Bigben Interactive (The Sinking City) and Private Division (The Outer Worlds, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey).
What Epic Games did surprise us with was adding several PlayStation titles to the assortment. First, it was Journey, and earlier this spring the Quantic Dream trilogy was announced for the Epic Games Store. Keeping in mind that many of PlayStation exclusives are made by subsidiary studios, the ones released and coming to PC are not. And what can be a sweeter fruit than acquiring not just an exclusive game but a console exclusive?
Anyway, the ongoing buy-an-exclusive policy might end one day if Valve agrees to Tim Sweeney’s conditions, which, however, doesn’t seem like a plausible scenario.
That said, let’s have a look at several games releasing within a year which we believe are likely to join the roster of EGS exclusives.
The post-apocalyptic game about mutants is developed by Experiment 101 and is to be published sometime this summer by THQ Nordic. Biomutant is developed using the Unreal Engine and has been seen at the Epic Games booth at GDC 2019. As the developers said, the game could not be possible without the UE. Whether it meant the technological aspects of the game or beneficial partnership with Epic Games, they did not clarify. Fans, as expected, expressed certain concern in the comments but received no reaction.
The sequel to Double Fine’s action adventure game is another game to be developed using the Unreal Engine. As of now, Psychonauts is set to release later this year, but taking into account the fact that its publisher, Starbreeze Studios, has been experiencing financial difficulties over several months, something about its future might change. Starbreeze has stated last year that they may go bankrupt and in February 2019 sold the rights to System Shock 3 back to its developer, OtherSide Entertainment. Earlier this May, the company sold its art production studio Dhruva Interactive to Rockstar Games. And that’s just a few examples as there’ve been other deals made in an attempt to stay afloat.
With such dark clouds rounding around Starbreeze, it seems like a plausible reason (or an opportunity for another side) to reach out for Epic Games and cut a saving deal. Making huge money out of Fortnite, Epic Games surely does have something to offer. Anyway, Psychonauts 2 will be shown at E3 2019, so we are likely to hear some news regarding the release. Keep in mind, though, that the game is also developed for Linux which is not officially supported by EGS.
System Shock 3
Formerly published by the abovementioned Starbreeze Studios, the third installment in the sci-fi horror series is now on its own. Developer OtherSide Entertainment stated that they are in search for a new publisher but are ‘’talking to a lot of partners’’ and ‘’have a lot of interest.’’ Warren Spector, SS3’s creative director, says the studio may publish the game themselves, but it will take be a distraction. So, finding a publisher to deal with all the paperwork is a more preferable option. And assuming that Epic Games might have approached the devs and no decision has been made yet, System Shock 3 could still release in a more common digital store. As of now, the game has no set release date, so we have wait and see.
Speaking of money problems, Desperados 3 developers, Mimimi Productions, had some when working on the previous tactical game, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. Luckily, it all ended well, with Shadow Tactics selling 400,000 copies on PC.
The game is to be published by THQ Nordic sometime later this year. As the third entry in the series, the game has its audience waiting for the comeback. Besides, there are not many games of this genre nowadays, making it a niche product. That said, having no other options fans will buy the game wherever it is available. Fans wondered about the EGS situation, but the developers did not comment on this yet.
Aquanox: Deep Descent
One of the THQ Nordic’s titles said to be released this year is Aquanox: Deep Descent, the third entry in the submarine action game series. Announced in 2014, the game is developed by Digital Arrow using the Unreal Engine, but little did we hear about it in a long time. So the question is more ‘’will it release’’ not ‘’where’’.
The big comeback of the legendary adventure series. The trequel raised funds on Kickstarter back in 2015, and fans are eager to see it finally release. And that’s the case: the game already has a huge fan base. It’s not a new IP that needs to promote itself somehow. Some players played the first two on Dreamcast, others on emulators, but the number of people aware of these games is big indeed. That said, should the game release in the Epic Games Store, people would still buy it. Not to forget that it’s made using UE and published by Deep Silver. When approached, however, the devs did not reveal any details about where the title may land.
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Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
Little is known so far about the new game set in the World of Darkness universe. We take on the role of an eco-terrorist werewolf fighting a corporation controlled by vampires in the American Northwest. The role playing action game is developed by Cyanide, the developers of Call of Cthulhu, using the Unreal Engine and published by Bigben Interactive.
Previously, another title published by Bigben was removed from Steam in favor of EGS, and that’s The Sinking City. The devs made an announcement in March 2019 saying that ‘’the Epic Games Store offers better compensation to video games creators, in particular those using Epic’s Unreal Engine, like The Sinking City.’’ That said, it might have been not the publisher to decide. Anyway, we’ll find out more about the game and probably the store where it’s coming to this June, at E3.
In March, the MMO third-person shooter The Division 2 hit EGS, and this launch was pretty successful. It was followed by a new game in the Anno series, Anno 1800. As Ubisoft stated at GDC, they will continue their collaboration with Epic games, releasing several games for free in the store. Thus, recently announced tactical open-world shooter Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint will release on PC via Uplay and the Epic Games Store. Later this year, we can also expect Skull & Bones and economic strategy The Settlers. However, no Assassin’s Creed. We’ll find out more in a month, at E3 2019.
Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology
As we’ve mentioned before, Epic Games might want to acquire more PS titles for their store. And one such PlayStation games developer that comes to mind is Supermassive Games. It’s a private company that isn’t owned by Sony, just like Quantic Dream. Their last game, Until Dawn, was a huge hit, and releasing it on PC is sure to introduce PC gamers to the fan base. After all, games of this genre are rare guests on the PC platform.
At the moment, fans are looking forward to the new horror Supermassive are working on, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. The game will release on several platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and, of course, PC. While Until Dawn was available only on PS4, the new game is sure to attract new players, no matter the store.
Another PS4 exclusive developed not by a Sony studio is Bloodborne. Developed by From Software, the game released in 2015 and gave another look on the Dark Souls games with its offense gameplay. The Souls trilogy released on both consoles and PC, and so did the recent Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Making Bloodborne available on PC is bound to bring new users to the Epic Games Store.
Games that won’t be EGS exclusives
Although the range of EGS’s listings keeps growing, not all developers and publishers choose it. Some don’t want to let down their fans who are expecting a Steam release; others disagree with the exclusivity policy.
And while it may seem reasonable to choose a store with more beneficial terms, not all is green. For instance, there are no reviews or community section in the Epic Games Store meaning the developers may not get enough feedback from the players. Steam communities are live, developers often make announcements, share news and new images, answer fans’ questions.
Of course, some developers host AMAs on Reddit or Twitter and it may cover a larger audience, including both PC and console owners. However, in case of a game releasing on PC only, Steam may work just fine. Especially if it’s a small studio that likes being close to its fans.
So here are a few games that won’t be exclusive to the Epic Games Store.
The upcoming role playing game from CD Projekt Red is one of the most anticipated games in development at the moment. No surprise that fans are concerned about where the PC version of the game will land. However, the developers have reassured the fans stating that Cyberpunk 2077 won’t be exclusive to the Epic Games Store. While the game might as well release in several stores, the exclusive launch might bring some unpleasant memories. Namely, in the financial report last year it was said that Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales launching solely on GOG affected the sales, so the game had to be released on Steam as well.
Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2
Another title that fans are looking forward to. Announced in March this year after a series of teasers, the sequel to the cult RPG comes with a fanbase eager to buy the game. No worries though. As the developers confirmed, the PC version will not be exclusive to the Epic Games Store.
The third entry in the post-apocalyptic game series, Wasteland 3 is developed by inXile Entertainment founded by Brian Fargo, the famous game designer who worked on such games as Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment. Unlike their fellow CPRG legends, Obsidian, inXile will release the game on Steam and GOG as they confirmed in a recent update.
The new game in the Wolfenstein series won’t join the list as well as the developers confirmed in a recent AMA. Thus, the shooter will be available on both Steam and Bethesda store.
Some developers may see the EGS deal completely unacceptable. Re-Logic VP Whitney Spinks said the studio that brought Terraria to life will never make a deal with Epic Games and ‘’sell their souls’’. The statement followed the announcement of the studio’s participating in PC Gaming Show hosted by Epic Games, which caused a certain level of concern.
As Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley stated, the studio is unlikely to release their titles exclusively to EGS. Kingsley says that they understand why Epic Games are doing this, but the cost may be too high. While it may be a financially beneficial deal, fans can feel betrayed and this will cause a negative reaction. However, the developer doesn’t exclude such possibility, though ‘’there would have to be a bloody good reason’’ for going exclusive.
Sergey Galyonkin, Director of Publishing Strategy at Epic Games, did not shed light on what to expect, saying to ‘’follow the announcements’’. All in all, such news pop up time to time, revealing games of a different scale moving to the Epic Games Store, so we are likely to hear more. And besides, E3 starts in a few weeks, and that’s where all the juicy announcements will undoubtedly happen.