Image: Epic Games Store

The Epic Games Store has garnered significant controversy since its inception nearly three years ago due to founder and CEO Tim Sweeney’s insistence on securing exclusive titles for his digital distribution platform to quickly and aggressively gain market share over Steam and other rivals.

While it’s no surprise that Epic has dumped truck loads of cash to secure hot titles in the past such as 4A Games’ post-apocalyptic shooter, Metro Exodus, new documents have revealed that the company ended up earning zero profit from any of its initial wave of exclusive titles, sans for two—Satisfactory, an open-world factory building game from Goat Simulator developer Coffee Stain Studios, and Dauntless, Phoenix Labs’ free-to-play online action RPG.

These are the only titles that managed a negative shortfall (-0.6), which suggests that Epic Games made around $600,000 for each title. Dauntless is on the list a second time with a shortfall of 0.3, however, which indicates that it may have also been just another money loser for Epic.

TitleRelease DateMinimum GuaranteeExpected Shortfall (millions)
Metro Exodus2/15/20193722.2
Anno 1800 / WWZ4/16/20193514
The Division 23/15/20193524.5
6/15/20191413.6
Satisfactory3/19/201911.5-0.6
Hades/Ashen/Hello Neighbor12/6/2018119.1
Anno 1800 / WWZ4/16/201910.63.2
Hades/Ashen/Hello Neighbor12/6/2018108.8
2/19/20197.55.9
The Outer Wilds5/30/201975
Sinking City6/27/201974.9
Dauntless5/21/20195-0.6
6/24/201953.8
Genesis Alpha1/29/20194.64.3
Shakedown Hawaii5/7/201943.9
Magic The Gathering1/15/201932.7
Hades/Ashen/Hello Neighbor12/6/201832.9
Dauntless5/21/20192.50.3
Close to the Sun5/2/201921.8
Operencia3/29/201910.8
Dangerous Driving4/9/201910.8
Omen of Sorrow6/20/2019.30.3
3/19/2019.20

[…] clearly Epic was fine with losing money on EGS (timed) exclusive games to build up a userbase. (But the 2019 plan wanted ‘Wave 2’ – with another 100+ titles and a few hundred million dollars of advances – to recoup 65-75% of advances, vs. 35-45% recouped in the first wave. We don’t think it did that, even with tweaks including deals going to lifetime EGS recoup vs. first 12 months, and lifetime exclusivity on select titles.)

Source: Box (via r/fuckepic, The GameDiscoverCo)

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24 Comments

  1. I have a feeling Sweeny is hoping to pull off a Bezos and turn Epic into THE defacto place to get PC games. I wouldn’t be surprised if they flex the storefront to start selling computer parts.

    The real threat here to Steam, EA, Uplay, and others is Amazon. If Amazon were to enter the market of digital game sales and distribution they would be in trouble….. or maybe not. Amazon STILL hasn’t bothered to refresh their web interface for their Video streaming service they are so proud of. It still feels like something stuck in the 90’s compared to HULU, Netflix, well everyone else really.

    If Amazon were to update their UI and make it easier to use/navigate, they would have a lot more people consuming video on their platform.

  2. I don’t think that was ever the intent. They knew they were spending an unreasonable amount of money for the exclusives, that no other game store would spend.

    They did this not to make money on those specific titles, but to coerce people to install their Epic store, so that down the road, they ar emore likely to buy things in the store. It was a way to try to grab installed game store market share by inconveniencing users.

  3. I still think they’d have gained more paying users playing fair. They might have an install base now. Yeah half of whom are freeloaders, and the other half who only begrudgingly installed it for one game and doesn’t intend to spend any more money there.

  4. I dunno.

    Apart from the fiaso where EGS was snooping on your PC and uploading random data in the very beginning – that was concerning – I don’t have any issue with what EGS is doing.

    They are paying out developers and publishers to have exclusives. That’s been done for years, it’s nothing new, even on the PC. They have a more developer-friendly payment model than Steam or most other online storefronts. Their software kinda sucks, but it’s workable.

    Not sure what else they could be doing, apart from putting out Half-life 3… err.. the next Unreal Tournament

  5. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 39134, member: 96″]
    I dunno.

    Apart from the fiaso where EGS was snooping on your PC and uploading random data in the very beginning – that was concerning – I don’t have any issue with what EGS is doing.

    They are paying out developers and publishers to have exclusives. That’s been done for years, it’s nothing new, even on the PC. They have a more developer-friendly payment model than Steam or most other online storefronts. Their software kinda sucks, but it’s workable.

    Not sure what else they could be doing, apart from putting out Half-life 3… err.. the next Unreal Tournament
    [/QUOTE]
    You know competiing in the free market, by offering better service or prices, like any normal company should. And not paying out developers to gain de-facto monopoly on some games. This shit should be illegal. It hurts gamers, and it hurts the gaming industry as a whole.
    It is very different to console manufacturers paying developers to make games for their platform. egs is not a platform, it is a gatekeeping app trying to put a wedge between gamers and developers.

  6. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39146, member: 1298″]
    You know competiing in the free market, by offering better service or prices, like any normal company should. And not paying out developers to gain de-facto monopoly on some games. This **** should be illegal. It hurts gamers, and it hurts the gaming industry as a whole.
    It is very different to console manufacturers paying developers to make games for their platform. egs is not a platform, it is a gatekeeping app trying to put a wedge between gamers and developers.
    [/QUOTE]
    Isn’t paying out the developers just another form of free market? That is a market just as much as the consumers are a market. Epic is in the business of being a middle-man, and nothing is stopping the developers from saying no, or providing their exclusive access to any other marketplace. EGS buys from developers and sells to consumers. “Exclusives” happens in nearly every logistics chain, and even before digital distribution video games were no stranger to it – certain editions of consoles or games only available via certain retailers.

    To flip it around – why would you be mad at developers for getting the best price they can? “Selling out” gives them a guaranteed return on this game, which lets them move on to fund and develop the next one. By all accounts – EGS is treating the developers well.

    And to your second point – EGS is not a platform. Hmm. Good topic of discussion. I would counter that by saying: the PC is not a platform, but EGS is a platform that happens to run on a PC.

  7. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 39147, member: 96″]
    Isn’t paying out the developers just another form of free market? That is a market just as much as the consumers are a market. Epic is in the business of being a middle-man, and nothing is stopping the developers from saying no, or providing their exclusive access to any other marketplace. EGS buys from developers and sells to consumers. “Exclusives” happens in nearly every logistics chain, and even before digital distribution video games were no stranger to it – certain editions of consoles or games only available via certain retailers.

    To flip it around – why would you be mad at developers for getting the best price they can? “Selling out” gives them a guaranteed return on this game, which lets them move on to fund and develop the next one. By all accounts – EGS is treating the developers well.

    And to your second point – EGS is not a platform. Hmm. Good topic of discussion. I would counter that by saying: the PC is not a platform, but EGS is a platform that happens to run on a PC.
    [/QUOTE]

    I would counter to say thst EGS is a marketplace not a platform. The os is in essence the platform that resides on the hardware and provides API’s for developers to use. I would even agree that a game engine is in essence a platform.

    But EGS is a storefront or a marketplace it is not by definition a platform.

  8. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 39147, member: 96″]
    Isn’t paying out the developers just another form of free market? That is a market just as much as the consumers are a market. Epic is in the business of being a middle-man, and nothing is stopping the developers from saying no, or providing their exclusive access to any other marketplace.
    [/QUOTE]
    Just because the developers accepting the deals are also to blame doesn’t make it any better. There is always two parties to backroom deals. Actually the free market is just a throw away term I used for clarity. We don’t actually have a free market, and I don’t think we should either. That leads to monopolies, which is exactly what epic is trying to be. There always needs to be regulation to prevent too much power from concentrating in the hand of the biggest market players to the detriment of consumers. Epic by playing developers gets a free pass for treating customers as trash.

    [QUOTE]
    EGS buys from developers and sells to consumers. “Exclusives” happens in nearly every logistics chain, and even before digital distribution video games were no stranger to it – certain editions of consoles or games only available via certain retailers.[/QUOTE]
    Two wrongs doesn’t make a who cares. Just because there is precedence for deals that hurt the consumer doesn’t mean hurting the consumer is OK. I’ve been just as mad at those exclusive editions and even pre-order bonuses tied to specific marketplaces as I am at epic.

    [QUOTE]To flip it around – why would you be mad at developers for getting the best price they can? “Selling out” gives them a guaranteed return on this game, which lets them move on to fund and develop the next one. By all accounts – EGS is treating the developers well.[/QUOTE]
    By selling out they themselves prove that they don’t have faith in their own game. Any self-respecting developer should send egs lawyers packing with their tails between their legs. I have zero respect for any developer who sells out. Unless they are in such die straits that their only choice is to make the deal or go bust. But this argument is generally mute anyway as most egs exclusive deal are made by publishers and not the devs themselves, so the payout doesn’t even go to the devs but another middle man.

    [QUOTE]
    And to your second point – EGS is not a platform. Hmm. Good topic of discussion. I would counter that by saying: the PC is not a platform, but EGS is a platform that happens to run on a PC.
    [/QUOTE]
    Then you’d be wrong. EGS is a storefront. PC might not be a platform, but then windows is, and definitely not egs, or steam, or the windows store.
    By the same definition then android is not a platform, but the play store is the platform? Heck no, I can run software on android bypassing the play store. The platform is the hardware+software combination that can run the software.

  9. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 39147, member: 96″]
    To flip it around – why would you be mad at developers for getting the best price they can? “Selling out” gives them a guaranteed return on this game, which lets them move on to fund and develop the next one. By all accounts – EGS is treating the developers well.
    [/QUOTE]

    I doubt that, they give them a lump sum in advance which may or may not be in the ballpark of what they would have made with a normal release on different storefronts.

    I would have less issues if Epic would actually pay for the whole developpement of said games and act more as a publisher iso swooping in at the last moment b4 release with a big wad of money which I’m not so sure of that any actually makes it to the developpers but goes to the publisher.

    There are too many numbers we don’t know to make even an estimated guiess as to who get’s anything out of these deals or even if anyone does

  10. I guess we do kinda need to define the difference between platform and marketplace. That is a fair point.

    Or is it like porn – you just know it when you see it?

    [QUOTE=”Denpepe, post: 39184, member: 284″]
    I doubt that, they give them a lump sum in advance which may or may not be in the ballpark of what they would have made with a normal release on different storefronts.
    [/QUOTE]
    No telling, your right. For exclusives, this counts, but only insofar as you consider the period of exclusivity. Most titles have went on to have a wider release 6mo-1yr later, and see another (smaller, admittedly) boom in sales because of it. But for free giveaways – those are almost never new titles, so a bit of cash infusion sometime late in the lifecycle is probably pretty welcome.

  11. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39146, member: 1298″]
    You know competiing in the free market, by offering better service or prices, like any normal company should. And not paying out developers to gain de-facto monopoly on some games. This **** should be illegal. It hurts gamers, and it hurts the gaming industry as a whole.
    It is very different to console manufacturers paying developers to make games for their platform. egs is not a platform, it is a gatekeeping app trying to put a wedge between gamers and developers.
    [/QUOTE]

    Hurts gamers how exactly? Whatever EGS is doing, other game stores have done, including STEAM. I really could care less about the game store as long as I can get the games I want.

  12. What would hurt pc gamers is having less game stores. For the love of steam, install epic and gog and ea and whatever it takes. Honestly I have been out of pc gaming for years. I think I may have build my last pc (not gaming) . I enjoy reading about the hardware, and snicker at the prices I will never pay for gpus. I soured tremendously, to the point of becoming a console peon (for years now) due to the drm crap and the validation crap in computer games. I purchased a large amount of games for a while back when hard media (cds and such) was still a thing keep my keys and things only to find I have a pile of worthless un verifiable crap, I didn’t understand, I thought the keys were enough, you know like an idiot. Guess what? , I tossed all of it, and went back to consoles, since I don’t own anything and never did, might as well not own it for something I don’t have to constantly tune and such (plus really older consoles you do own it and it will work so long you have the media and working console, newer one, well..).
    I miss tremendously keyboard and mouse, and I see pc is really much better, you might not own a thing anyway (same as console now a days… we will see for my many switch cards I have… Ds cards work fine in my 3 units, yes I own 3 ds/3ds.. used to be 5 so im better… That is the best gaming device in my eyes, ever… Ps4 blurrays are questionable if they are going to work years from now…. Ps5 and new xbox are 100% you don’t own, that is obvious same as pc), but the pc with as many stores and intense competition now, the closed gardens of consoles are looking sad and tiny in comparison.
    This is a lot of the reason I am looking forward to that Steam deck unit. First order of business is figure out to get in all the big pc stores I can I would prefer if I can do it via the steam os itself without dual boot, but if I have to dual boot another linux I will. I don’t get the crap posting about xyz pc store, yes the will install their spyware verification license schemes, it is what it is, you don’t own it, period you won’t be able to run it if for any reason if doesn’t validate (i understand steam is supposed to have safeguards against this, but really)

  13. [QUOTE=”Stoly, post: 39214, member: 1474″]
    Hurts gamers how exactly? Whatever EGS is doing, other game stores have done, including STEAM. I really could care less about the game store as long as I can get the games I want.
    [/QUOTE]
    I’m shocked that after all this time there are still people oblivious to this. If you asked how is it bad for the industry I’d understand, but how does it hurt gamers? How in the hell is this not obvious?

    If a game can only be purchased from one vendor pricing inevitably becomes a problem. Ie. price gouging.
    When did steam pay developers under the table to NOT sell their games elsewhere? This is news to me.
    Some people prefer to have their games in one launcher, so it hurts them.
    Choice is always good, taking away choice is bad, why do I have to explain this?
    The launcher has worse and less functionality than others, so any game that is exclusive to it is automatically handicapped, how is this not hurting gamers?

    And finally “Could care less” That means you do care.

  14. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39261, member: 1298″]
    I’m shocked that after all this time there are still people oblivious to this. If you asked how is it bad for the industry I’d understand, but how does it hurt gamers? How in the hell is this not obvious?

    If a game can only be purchased from one vendor pricing inevitably becomes a problem. Ie. price gouging.
    When did steam pay developers under the table to NOT sell their games elsewhere? This is news to me.
    Some people prefer to have their games in one launcher, so it hurts them.
    Choice is always good, taking away choice is bad, why do I have to explain this?
    The launcher has worse and less functionality than others, so any game that is exclusive to it is automatically handicapped, how is this not hurting gamers?

    And finally “Could care less” That means you do care.
    [/QUOTE]

    I feel oblivious… what’s the difference between how egs downloads and runs games and how steam does it? Do you mean the annoying steam overlay crap?

  15. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39261, member: 1298″]
    I’m shocked that after all this time there are still people oblivious to this. If you asked how is it bad for the industry I’d understand, but how does it hurt gamers? How in the hell is this not obvious?

    If a game can only be purchased from one vendor pricing inevitably becomes a problem. Ie. price gouging.
    When did steam pay developers under the table to NOT sell their games elsewhere? This is news to me.
    Some people prefer to have their games in one launcher, so it hurts them.
    Choice is always good, taking away choice is bad, why do I have to explain this?
    The launcher has worse and less functionality than others, so any game that is exclusive to it is automatically handicapped, how is this not hurting gamers?

    And finally “Could care less” That means you do care.
    [/QUOTE]

    Has there been any price gouging? that’s news to me…
    How do you think Steam gets exclusives?, speclially back when it started. Back in the day STEAM was accused of much worse things by retailers, this is not much different.
    BTW if not for Epic Games, Steam would not have lowered its commisions to developers.
    So choice is good but you just want a single launcher?

    I don’t really like Epic or steam launcher better, each has its own issues. Actually I haven’t bought STEAM games in years I bought my games from Epic, GoG, ubisoft connect, EA and Blizzard, heck even the windows store. :rolleyes::rolleyes:

  16. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 39276, member: 215″]
    I feel oblivious… what’s the difference between how egs downloads and runs games and how steam does it? Do you mean the annoying steam overlay crap?
    [/QUOTE]
    I didn’t even mention downloading, WTH? I don’t know what is the steam overlay, never seen it. Idk how can something be annoying that you have to opt into.

  17. [QUOTE=”Stoly, post: 39292, member: 1474″][QUOTE][/QUOTE]
    Has there been any price gouging? that’s news to me…
    [/QUOTE]
    The very first exclusive metro exodus, they gave $10 off to the US and the rest of the world paid for it. I think it was €65 here.
    [QUOTE]How do you think Steam gets exclusives?, speclially back when it started. Back in the day STEAM was accused of much worse things by retailers, this is not much different.[/QUOTE]
    Does steam even have exclusives? Maybe a few indies who don’t have the means to publish their games they just put it on steam. Frankly I don’t really give a toss about indie crap, only AAA games.

    [QUOTE]BTW if not for Epic Games, Steam would not have lowered its commisions to developers.
    So choice is good but you just want a single launcher?[/QUOTE]
    Choice goes both ways. Developers could still choose to put their games on EGS without taking the choice away from consumers. If devs had put their games on both, I’d even have voluntarily went to EGS to buy it there if they get a bigger cut that way. That’s my choice. Colluding behind my back to deny me any choice, and all they get from me is a big fat middle finger.

    [QUOTE]
    I don’t really like Epic or steam launcher better, each has its own issues. Actually I haven’t bought STEAM games in years I bought my games from Epic, GoG, ubisoft connect, EA and Blizzard, heck even the windows store. :rolleyes::rolleyes:
    [/QUOTE]
    I didn’t buy anything from steam either, and that was my choice. That is what EGS is trying to take away from me. Exclusivity deals need to die, whoever does it.

  18. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39308, member: 1298″]
    Does steam even have exclusives? Maybe a few indies who don’t have the means to publish their games they just put it on steam. Frankly I don’t really give a toss about indie crap, only AAA games.
    [/QUOTE]
    Depends on how you define AAA game.

    If by Big Studio – once upon a time they almost universally released on Steam – even EA – and no other digital platforms. Then they all tried to make their own storefronts. Now they are slowly backing away from that and diversifying their offerings. Square-Enix is still mostly-Steam digital distribution, although not entirely exclusive.

    There are still a lot of games that only release on Steam, but that’s more so because there isn’t a lot of incentive to release on other storefronts – they just don’t get huge exposure like Steam does. Steam really got it’s start by being the exclusive place to get Half-Life from, after all.

  19. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39308, member: 1298″]
    I didn’t buy anything from steam either, and that was my choice. That is what EGS is trying to take away from me. Exclusivity deals need to die, whoever does it.
    [/QUOTE]
    For this one, you can always offer the developer more money than EGS to not go exclusive – That is really the only way you stop it. I don’t get the hangup really, when every single other form of entertainment media does the exact same thing, with both physical and digital media, and it hasn’t spelled the death of all entertainment… more storefronts, even with exclusivity, leads to more choice and options ultimately.

    But hey – your entitled to your opinion, you’ve voiced it intelligently and respectfully and I respect that. I don’t agree with it, but that’s ok. I think it’s just an area we have to agree to disagree upon.

  20. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 39363, member: 96″]
    more storefronts, even with exclusivity, leads to more choice and options ultimately.
    [/QUOTE]
    No, it just leads to a fragmented market, where nobody wins. Just take a look at streaming.

    Everyone was jumping for joy when streaming first started: “Oh, how it will annihilate cable and how much better it is.”

    I was already warning back then, that everyone will want to start up their own streaming service, and in the end it will be worse than cable, because you have to pay for dozens of services if you want everything you used to have with cable, and it won’t even have a common interface as everyone has their own crappy app or player, some of which works on some of your devices, while others not at all.

    We are at the point now, where I’d rather torrent the content even for services that I’m subscribed to, because I just can’t be dealing with their crap apps and its compatibility issues.

  21. These discussions confuse me. Why would anyone care if I can buy at Target something I can’t buy at Walmart? You want it or not? Fact that its an item that could be sold at Walmart doesn’t preclude vendor and retailer discretion.

    [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39373, member: 1298″]
    No, it just leads to a fragmented market, where nobody wins. Just take a look at streaming.

    Everyone was jumping for joy when streaming first started: “Oh, how it will annihilate cable and how much better it is.”

    I was already warning back then, that everyone will want to start up their own streaming service, and in the end it will be worse than cable, because you have to pay for dozens of services if you want everything you used to have with cable, and it won’t even have a common interface as everyone has their own crappy app or player, some of which works on some of your devices, while others not at all.

    We are at the point now, where I’d rather torrent the content even for services that I’m subscribed to, because I just can’t be dealing with their crap apps and its compatibility issues.
    [/QUOTE]
    Tbh I used to think like this too… However thats is only part of the story. The competition for your streaming dollars has also led to a bonifide glut of contents and a bare knuckle fight to get your dollars. As long as this keeps happening it will stay great. There is no comparison to cable. Cable is ad laden garbage for a ton of money. Cable should be the thing you fall back to when you are broke because the only price it should cost is zero, matter of fact they should probably pay you to have access to your house. Its weird what people put up with only because its been that way.
    I think the best thing that may come from the inevitable future of software as service would be several nexflix of games competing for contents. It will lead to a glut of games and an expansion of the market. You don’t have to subscribe to all of them all the time.

  22. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 39373, member: 1298″]
    No, it just leads to a fragmented market, where nobody wins. Just take a look at streaming.
    [/QUOTE]
    But if you only have one storefront, how’s that any different than every title being exclusive?

    Either you have competition and various storefronts (and all that comes with it, good and bad), or you have a monopoly. You can’t just say “Well, two is ok, but three is outright too many”

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