Unreal Indies: game platform seeks more developers

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/10/unreal-indies-game-platform-s.html


Epic have been pouring shit-tons of money into getting their storefront off the ground - their free game every week is always worth a look. More competition in big vidcon online shops is probably gonna be a good thing.

And yet people shit their pants with rage when some game is announced as an Epic Store exclusive.

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That’s because store exclusives are kinda anti-consumer? Still, people will calm down about them once the EGS is fully bedded-in, I think.

Are they though? Department stores have had exclusive brands for ages and no-one batted an eye, the man-babies only came out when it was PC games.

At that point there probably won’t be that many exclusives to complain about anyway. The whole point is to drive traffic and create a critical mass of installs so the platform can stand on its own.

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I think that’d only be an apt comparison in the context of games published by Epic directly (and similarly, Valve’s in-house stuff on Steam).

Only being able to get Asda own-brand beans from Asda is quite a long-established phenomenon, and so is games being temporarily exclusive to a certain console, but it’s a bit of a newer idea in PC gaming specifically, as I recall.

Actually, thinking back I remember the pissing and moaning about needing to get Steam for Half-Life 2…

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So, it’s different from all those other online stores that mandate interactions with other people before you can make a purchase…?

(I certainly will concede that it’s nice that the store is not overflowing with obvious crapware, but then the only purpose I have for it so far is adding those splendid freebies to my backlog.)

From what I recall the pants shitting started with some exclusives that had not originally been exclusive. Pulling their own material from other shops, and signing exclusives that were already up for pre-order elsewhere. Exclusives are sort of fundementally anti-competative and anti-consumer. And Epic at least started out doing it in a particularly odious way.

While people are now just kind of up their own butts about it. It does pretty well undermine the “competition is good” pitch they’re putting out there.

There’s a major difference between something where there are many brands available elsewhere, but certain brands are exclusive. And a situation where a piece of media is only available from one place. Its not like there’s a functionally identical version of Mario you can pick up through some one besides Nintendo. If you want Mario, you buy into a Nintendo system. Games, books, media, are singular. You aren’t getting that culture without getting that culture.


Steam uses other people to surface games to you. User reviews and tags determine what you see on your front page and what it recommended to you.

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The most egregious example being crowdfunded stuff. A Kickstarter isn’t a contract, but having the rug pulled like that bothered a few folks.


Exclusives are often anit-consumer, but the counter point is that it can be pro-developer, giving them money they would not have gotten otherwise, or giving them access to money while the game was in development allowing them to pay staff and finish a game instead of folding. This could be net pro-consumer as we could possibly be getting access to games we would not have gotten without the exclusivity deals. Traditionally some exclusivity deals were a strait pay for a limited exclusivity window, other were development funding that usually resulted in a permanent exclusive, but most didn’t include needing to pay back the funds in a direct manner.

The way Epic is going about it more so that most situations.

It has been reported that what Epic is offering advances for exclusivity to indies, so Epic offers say $50,000 then the indie must sell over $50,000 in the developers share for that game before Epic pays them again for actual sales. If this is true it’s not really expanding the range of games consumers have access to.

Also a number of games funded on KickStarter where picked up by Epic as exclusives, this forced the devs on those games to revoke Steam keys for people that kickstared the game.

In the most egregious cases people had pre-ordered games on Steam and had the game moved to Epic with those pre-orders left in limbo.

A few indie devs have said they tried to get into the Epic store as non-exclusives and Epic turned them down stating that indies could join the exclusives program or not sell in their store.

These are all things that serve to exclusively limit consumer choice without providing a tangible benefit to either the devs or the consumers to off set that limitation. I would consider that anti-consumer.

In case it matters, I have use the Epic store, and I regularly play a few games from the Epic store, but I’ve checked before purchasing and not bought any games there if they were a game promised or sold on GOG or Steam and then removed.


No don’t worry, the Epic store has friends lists and such, I’m sure that in the next year they will add user reviews, and start manipulating their game discovery based on the opinions of random people you have never met just like Steam.

For now the saving grace is that the Epic store lacks so many features that it might take them a while to add the features that allow toxic users to pollute their system.


The influence of reviews, metrics, engagement, ratings and commentary on the economy of Steam is rather like a septic tank. Once you know what’s under the lawn, you’ll never forget it.


My opinion is that the proverbial lawn is buried under so much manure now. The lowering of standards, lack of curation, and brazen profiteering is a far bigger problem than any visible influence of “Gamers”. What does it matter what appears on my front page if so much of it is likely to be crap anyway?


I wonder what this actually amounts to. Other publishers have had “indie” initiatives that consisted of, “You spend your money making a game, and then, at no expense spent, we’ll ‘publish’ it.”

It looks like the main thing here is to provide some modicum of support to indie developers, something that as non-fee-paying developers, indies aren’t going to get much of, especially compared to Unity. Unity may not provide any more official support, but they have a very long head start on peer support and marketplace assets that make it very much easier for first-time developers to get started on Unity than Unreal.

Unreal is also appealing to developers in that, as both market and engine provider, they can collapse the market percentage and engine licensing costs into one, comparatively tiny, percentage of sales. This is especially appealing for indie developers who aren’t necessarily going to be making much money in the first place, so the smaller the cut taken, the better.

Eh, I’ve been unconvinced by this claim. There’s no cost involved in installing Epic’s client as well as Steam. Is Valve anti-consumer because the Half-Life games aren’t available on other platforms? Nor have I seen anyone make the claim with regard to console exclusives. It’s only recently that Valve opened the floodgates to all sellers; until then all the markets had games that didn’t show up on other platforms. Epic’s exclusivity is time-limited, too. These games will eventually show up on other platforms. So it’s “anti-consumer” to… have to wait to buy a game (if you don’t want to use their client)?

And people being anti-Epic make that assertion, nonsensically. What Epic is doing is the way that you get competition. You don’t compete on the level of features with Steam, with 15 years of product development, with a platform that’s brand new. It’s not possible, even if the platform features had already been developed (which is also not possible), because Steam’s a social network as well, and the number of users on it is itself a feature.
(Also: people pointing to GOG as an example of a marketplace successfully competing with Steam need to realize that GOG struggles to survive despite having had a niche of - hey! - exclusive games.)

Not even for console exclusives (because those are well established, but just about as arbitrary these days). It’s more gamer entitlement - “I demand what I want, when I want it, how I want it.”

It does, because advances in this case allow developers to keep the lights on after they’ve finished developing a game until game sales kick in enough revenue to keep them going. It’s a big problem with indie studios - they burn through enough of their money making the game that they run out of funds before the game they made sells many copies; they end up having to do mass layoffs. So indirectly, consumers get access to more games because the studios are alive to keep making them.

I really dislike the underlying tone of the intial post and this convo thread. For background I have an extensive steam library (around 680 games) and I spend a LOT of time gaming. So by all definitions is am a “gamer”.

The thing I like best about the Epic game store is that there are no Gamers in it.

And yet people shit their pants with rage when some game is announced as an Epic Store exclusive

the man-babies only came out when it was PC games.

What happened to the “criticise ideas not people” popup? I do not like the Epic store and i do not like Epic exclusives, I also do not like Epic as a company. So my disagreement means i am a man-baby that shits my pants because I am entitled? The blanket assumption that my opinions are not worthwhile discussing is offensive. I do not see any point in discussing it in this forum as I am obviously viewed negatively already, but I will give an overview of my opinions to maybe show that i am at LEAST a man-toddler

Steam: Its lack of curation is horrible. I disagree with its “anything goes as long as it is not illegal” philosophy. I think it should make massive changes in its profit sharing to help indie devs. A vocal group of users are toxic and detract from my user experience.

I enjoy my steam library and having all my games and achievements in one space. I like the functionality of steam client. I like the Linux support. I like the prices I get as a consumer. I like the meta-elements like trading cards and achievements. I would prefer to not have to install more and more launchers on my PC.

I can see both the good and bad of steam.

Epic: I do not follow them closely and have stopped using their launcher and store. Some of my concerns: The platform lacked simple features when i used it like cloud saves, offline play, a shopping cart. Epic had to use steam’s VR interface for an exclusive (i don’t have a link, but i am sure i am not misremembering it). Epic had no pre-loading of games before release until Borderlands 3 devs basically did it for them. They have abandoned their storefront roadmap and the features will appear when they appear.

There are things that while not deal-breakers make me uncomfortable with them as a company. Their close ties to Tencent (even though it is a private company it is still a LOT of Chinese money and the Blizzard debacle shows the risk that holds). To keep fortnite updates coming they put their Dev’s through a LOT of crunch. There was some concerns about data leaks and the launcher (later turned out to not be so bad).

In terms of exclusives i do not like my choice being taken away. I generally do not buy other platform exclusives (EA\Ubisoft\Blizzard) either. I am all for their better treatment of indies, but they are not “saving the indies” they are flexing their Tencent\Fortnite money to become a new monopoly in my opinion. They say nice things, but their actions say otherwise to me. If they had a good platform, and they treated their indies well i would likely rather buy from them by choice. If they used the better profit split to sell the games for less i would probably buy from them as well. But snapping up games i am excited about from steam does not make me want to support them.

Anyway, thanks for invalidating the above based on the fact I like steam and don’t like exclusives i guess

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