Negotiations for exclusives between platforms is never a pretty thing. In a perfect world every game would be available everywhere, but the sad truth is exclusives are how many platforms keep users. We've seen an ugly battle in the PC world over the last couple of months between the Epic Games Store and Steam, complete with claims from Epic that it would play nicer if Steam would just take a lesser cut on transactions, but that's clearly a race to the bottom with no real end.
In an unusual curtain pull thanks to the team behind the spooky physics-bending game DARQ, it's becoming a little more clear the folks at Epic are doing everything they can to ensure these exclusives happen.
You either screw over Steam and its loyal users, or you don't get to play in Epic's sandbox at all.
Like many indie games, DARQ was announced on Steam with quite a bit of fanfare. And with good reason, the game looked incredible (I'm embarassed to admit I haven't gotten around to playing it yet but I have purchased my own copy already) and offered some unique mechanics worth getting excited over. So when Epic reached out to offer an exclusive, there had already been quite a few people with wallets in hand. Epic's sales pitch includes some standard features, like a greater cut of each purchase and some upfront payment totally outside of sales. We've seen details like this before, but as was explained in a tell-all on Medium that wasn't enough to let down the folks on Steam. Which, honestly, is a super cool move.
Where things get less standard is Epic's decision to not allow DARQ to be sold in the Epic Games Store at all unless it was available exclusively to those users. Even though DARQ was already available on Steam as a pre-order, Epic wanted the game pulled and made exclusive to its store, but if the developer declined this offer it would be impossible to also sell DARQ through Epic.
The entire Medium post is worth a read, but the underlying message here is painfully and unfortunately clear for indie devs. You either screw over Steam and its loyal users, or you don't get to play in Epic's sandbox at all.