In brief: One of the Epic Games Store's primary incentives for developers is that its revenue share is more generous than Steam's. Epic's latest effort to build up the store's catalog offers developers 100 percent of a game's revenue for a limited period under certain conditions.
The Epic Games Store (EGS) now offers developers two paths to retain all or nearly all sales revenue for six months. The plans could help the storefront acquire more exclusive games and back catalog titles.
Epic initially lured games away from Steam by paying developers to launch exclusively on EGS, the upcoming Alan Wake II being the latest prominent example. Now, the company is combining the monetary incentive with the self-publishing system it introduced in March with the Epic First Run program.
Starting Monday, if a developer chooses to keep a new game exclusive to EGS for six months, they retain between 88 and 100 percent of revenue from all transactions for that title. Afterward, the split reverts to the default (but still uniquely generous) 88 percent. Early Access periods count toward the six-month exclusivity. The program could encourage more independent developers to launch exclusively on EGS.
Epic introduced the 88 percent split as a challenge to the 70 percent that Steam and other digital storefronts traditionally enforce. In 2018, in response to Epic, Valve shifted its developer share to 75 percent of all revenue beyond $10 million and 80 percent for earnings beyond $50 million.
New exclusive titles aren't the only focus of Epic's incentives. One of Steam's most considerable advantages over EGS is its enormous back catalog of games released before EGS existed and retro titles from the 1990s and early 2000s. "Now on Epic" is a new program encouraging third-party companies to bring older titles to EGS.
Like Epic First Run, Now on Epic guarantees developers all sales revenue for six months when bringing previously released games to EGS. Qualifying titles must have launched on another PC client or subscription service before October 31, 2023.
Unlike Epic First Run, Now on Epic is a temporary offer. Developers must enroll before December 31, 2024, and release their games before June 30, 2025. Furthermore, they must port at least three titles to EGS or all of their products if they have fewer than three.
The announcement's timing indicates Epic is trying to rapidly increase the store's appeal and, thus, eventual profits to offset its recent troubles. Last month, Epic confirmed plans to lay off over 800 employees and divest Bandcamp, which it acquired only last year. Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney admitted the company had long been spending more money than it earned.