At the end of 2018, some were shocked when Fortnite developer Epic Games announced that it would be launching its very own games store. Called the Epic Games Store, Epic Games would be transitioning from just a maker of games to a retailer of games.
Although it has only been available for a few short months, Epic Games has quickly secured PC exclusivity deals with major titles like The Division 2 and Metro: Exodus.
And it’s not the only one. Other game developers have been ditching third-party platforms too. Activision decided to avoid Steam and launch on Battle.net (the platform owned by subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment) for the releases of Destiny 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. EA and Ubisoft have their own platforms too. The decision to launch these platforms didn’t come out of nowhere.
Don’t Have to Play By Someone Else’s Rules
While some gamers may be stunned by the announcement of these platforms; they shouldn’t be. For some time now, game developers and publishers have expressed their unhappiness at the large chunk of their revenue that these third-party platforms are taking.
There have been criticisms of Google Play’s 30% cut, with this hefty revenue slice that Google cuts for itself being a big reason why Epic Games chose to forego Google Play for the Android release of Fortnite. Likewise, the reason why many games are not being made available on Steam and are turning to the Epic Games Store is because of the former’s unfavorable revenue split terms. By having your own platform, you don’t have to play by someone else’s rules or pay them for it.
Platforms Offer Curated Experiences
Any game marketplace is competitive but by having your own platform, you can at least be a bit more selective about what you’re offering. Don’t want to go up against shovelware? Just don’t allow it on your platform. Don’t want to compete against your closest rivals? Don’t let them on your platform either.
By offering curated experiences, players can have a more selective, but higher quality list of games to choose from. This is how online casino games work and how casino game platforms are able to succeed. Many online casino game providers source their slot games and live casino games from leading developers like Microgaming, Playent, and Netent. In doing this, they know that themselves and their players are getting the best casino games out there.
They Control the Marketing
Another reason is that it allows the owner of the platform to control the marketing. Steam regularly runs sales and it uses algorithmic channels to put games in front of players that Steam thinks they might like. While this may be useful for the players (if those recommendations are correct), most publishers would prefer not to have that competition.
With their own platforms, they’re rarely competing against anyone other than themselves (or those who they are partnered with). Even if Ubisoft lets a third-party sell games on its platform, it controls the marketing and can ensure that its own games are never competing with their closest rivals.
Only the major players have the deal-making ability and the game libraries to be able to launch a successful platform themselves. But we may see many more smaller game developers signing up.