Earlier this week Tim Sweeney spoke with PC Gamer on a number of topics, including calling out Steam over its title publishing tools, but also touching upon free and exclusive titles. Epic Games Store general manager Steve Allison joined the call and expanded on these same topics. Epic Games Store will continue to offer exclusive titles but there will be changes moving forward and more free games are coming in 2023. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said that it hasn’t changed its strategy with Epic exclusives but Epic has learned what has worked well and what hasn’t. It appears that Epic may be putting a greater focus on more popular titles for its exclusive deals moving forward.
“We’re really honing our strategy based on what we observed worked really well in previous launches, and what didn’t work really well,” said Sweeney. “A handful of major exclusives really moved the needle … and the smaller games, especially games that had a smaller audience that was typically on Steam, we found that a lot of those players weren’t willing to move over.”
Alison said how one such exclusive, Borderlands 3, “has just crushed, like, well beyond the expectations of the developers and the publishers,” as an example of a big hit exclusive. Epic will also be applying its exclusivity strategy to its new self-publishing arm that includes a new game from Alan Wake and Control developer Remedy.
Allison adds that a number of Epic’s published games will be exclusives for a “long time” which could be interpreted as being longer than the 1-year period previously seen games from its publishing partners. Allison also said that some partners prefer time-exclusives with Epic due to its increased revenue sharing vs Steam. A few upcoming exclusives include Crime Boss: Rockay City from 505 Studios, Dead Island 2 from Deep Silver, and Darkest Dungeon II from Red Hook Studios.
Free Games will continue in 2023
Something else that got Epic Games Store on the radar of many gamers is its weekly free games offerings. While not all games are blockbusters the company has managed to offer a number of AAA titles since beginning the program in 2019. It said it gave away almost 700 million free copies in 2022 and that 70% of those titles broke their concurrent player records.
From Epic Games Store 2022 Year in Review:
“The Epic Games Store Free Games program had another strong year in 2022. Many developers and publishers partnered with us to bring our users 99 free games worth $2,240 USD. Of those, 70 of the games offered in our free games program broke their peak concurrent user records on PC, with an average increase of 25 times their all-time records! This year nearly 700 million free games in total were claimed by players, bringing those titles to new and expanded audiences.”