Why the Epic Games store is bad for consumers

Epic Games has made the best games of every 90’s kids childhood with the ever popular Unreal Tournament even though before Fortnite Epic was no longer releasing games regularly they still develop one of the best game engines known as Unreal Engine.

However, ever since the release of Fortnite things have taken a turn for the worse. Epic has released a new online game store similar to platforms such as Steam and Origin and although there is nothing wrong with that their approach is outright damaging to the entire industry.

The Epic Games store offers a lower share on producers income of games to lure them onto their platform but at the cost of it being an exclusive release. The cost difference in comparison to platforms like Steam is substantial being 12% instead of Steams 30% but with the exclusive deals consumers can not buy the title anywhere else. The Epic Game store can afford this substantially lower share because they offer way less support to consumers. Exclusive deals not only limit a consumer in the platforms they can choose to buy it from but can potentially make the game entirely unavailable in the future if something happens to the exclusive platform in the future.

The Epic Games store at this time does not support user reviews so consumers can not use the platform to get an idea on which titles are actually worth their money and even worse when Epic will start supporting user reviews they will allow publishers to remove and or alter these reviews. The publishers can (and likely will) abuse this power in favor of making their game have a higher rating than users would actually rate it at. Epic has justified this ability for themselves by saying the feature is a way to deal with review bombing.

Other outright scary practices include the Epic Game store reading and uploading user data from Steam libraries as a means to inform Epic of what titles users have installed and own. This is unacceptable even with a method of hidden user consent in 6 pages of terms of service.

Steam has ever since the release of SteamOS been working with the Linux community at increasing the amount of working titles on the platform. Recently Steam has released Proton a library that is now integrated into steam that allows to run Windows only titles on the Linux platform. In addition to Steam developing Proton they have also made contributions to DXVK and Wine which are two underlying applications that allow Proton to work. Proton is able to make modern titles like Fallout 4 or Doom run with similar performance on the Linux platform compared to its Windows brother.

Unfortunately, the exclusivity deal with the Epic Games store will significantly damage Linux gaming as the Epic Games store does not support Linux at all. Recently 2K announced that Borderlands 3 will be released through the Epic Games store and because of this it will not be available on Linux unlike previous titles. Surprisingly the Unreal Engine that is developed by Epic does support Linux and it is precisely this game engine that Borderlands 3 is being developed in giving an even sour aftertaste to the entire Linux community.

In my opinion the way Epic currently positions itself is likely due to Fortnite as I suspect the sudden massive increase in income has stricken the interest of Tencent which holds 40% of the Epic Games marketshare ever since 2012. Likely, Tencent is now pushing to keep the momentum which is something that is important but they likely have little interest in the consumers and minorities like the Linux community.

A motivation for my suspicions of this behavior is that similarly bad practices are being applied to Discord which recently raised 150 million in capital largely provided by Tencent. Ever since Discord has provided new rules to the end users which state that saying ‘shit’ can lead to the closing of a ‘server’ which is the name given to groups of users.

A lot of the current problems with the Epic Games store can be solved and should surely be considered. For instance, exclusive deals should be optional at the cost of a higher share and the exclusive license should lift after a reasonable period of time (a few years). The currently proposed review system should be reconsidered and review moderation should be done by an independent entity (Not Epic & Not the Publisher). The Epic Games store should support Linux just as well as any other platform and Epic should implement the open source Proton framework and support its development. Epic should reconsider its relationship with Tencent and evaluate what their true goals are and how they compare to those of Tencent. Collecting unnecessary user data with or without consent needs to be put to halt an should not be considered a fair business practice.

It is unfortunate how a company which I had great respect for considering the impressive Unreal Engine has now been the sole reason I won’t be able to play Borderlands 3 even though previous titles were among my all time favorites.

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