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.
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.
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I guess nothing it is....
well yeah, it sounds like I may have to boycott the "exclusives" on epic game store and hope others follow suit just to send a message that this kind treatment of devs and customers isnt ok
I'm doing it already.
I support what that dev did with my money, like I have refrained from buying any game from a dev that plays to this buyout moneyhatting strategy by Epic.
Buy this guy's game.
Just took a look at the Steam page and lots of the reviews mention buying the game because the developer took this stand, so it seems that they did the right thing to be public about it. As someone who enjoyed Inside and Little Nightmares, which Steam recommends as similar titles, I think that I'll join the ranks of those supporting this developer. I have a huge library of unplayed games so I usually wait for sales to buy new games but this isn't too expensive so I think I'll buy it at full price. It looks very cool too, based on the previews.
If Steam would adjust their profit percentage, I wonder if Epic would actually stop all the exclusive deals. I doubt it. I mean it's been happening on consoles for ever!
If this is what's required for Steam to no longer have an effective monopsony on pc game distribution then it's best for the entire market. Valve has a longstanding history of screwing over smaller game devs, have pretty much zero customer service or dev outreach, and the lack of competition has let them drag their feet on improvements to the service and app. The only way to make any of that better is if Steam's market share starts falling and the only way that's going to happen is with exclusives or new business models like Game Pass. Valve is not your friend. They don't deserve any loyalty. And if there isn't more effective pushback on the poor management of their platform it's only going to get worse.
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