Epic Games Is Pushing Into the Metaverse

Epic Games

Epic Games is a tech company that makes money from licensing its Unreal engine to other game developers and its Epic Games Store – which offers more lucrative deals for game publishers and developers compared to Steam.

This week, Epic Games Store unveiled two features intended to replicate some aspects of Steam’s gaming experience, such as game ratings and polls.

What is Epic Games?

Epic Games’ Fortnite-powered Epic Games is setting its sights on an ambitious goal known as “the metaverse,” without an official definition yet. But its general idea involves hanging out in virtual 3D worlds where avatars may range from Epic-designed human characters all the way up to Goku from Dragon Ball – not unlike how this vision applies to Epic’s Fortnite game, Unreal development tools used by gaming studios and film productions, and an online store it launched last December 2018.

That last move caused quite a stir, as Epic Games Store offered more revenue sharing to developers than Steam (an industry leader with almost exclusive PC game sales), sparking controversy for making local copies of Steam files without asking users’ permission; CEO Tim Sweeney later addressed this matter on Reddit thread, explaining it is part of an initiative to improve security and reduce download times.

Epic’s daring decision to subsidise its take-rate and battle Steam is emblematic of their larger goal: breaking open how people access games on PCs via two companies that collect take rates for every sale, creating an alternative distribution ecosystem in order to do this.

Recent developments are indicative of this, with Epic Games introducing tools today allowing game creators to self-publish games and push back against Apple over their walled-garden restrictions. It is clear evidence of Epic’s desire to evolve past being just a battle royale service into more of an end-to-end digital content ecosystem.

As Potomac Computer Systems was originally known, Epic Games began by producing MS-DOS and early Windows games before switching focus in 1996 to creating Unreal Engine, an innovative 3D graphics software used in many video games and other forms of content creation. By 1999, however, Epic changed to Epic Games after moving from Rockville Maryland to Cary North Carolina; today there are over 40 offices worldwide under its control and that provide Fortnite online shooter, Unreal Engine game development services, PC games store support as well as worldwide esports events worldwide.

What is the Epic Games Store?

The Epic Games Store is a digital marketplace that is challenging Steam’s dominance by giving developers 88% of revenue generated from game sales. In addition to featuring high-profile exclusive titles and promising faster download speeds and less friction for customers, this storefront has caused some controversy and raised privacy issues.

Consumers understandably take exception to the Epic Games Store; they don’t wish to be limited by backroom deals that ensure exclusivity, and would rather play on more robust platforms with equal opportunities available to them.

When the Epic Games Store first launched, it offered only low-profile exclusives such as Hades and Ashen from Supergiant and Annapurna/A44 studios – which were received well by customers. But after adding several high-profile exclusives from major studios like Metro: Exodus to its roster of offerings, fans took notice and began complaining.

Some of the primary complaints against Epic Games Store include its lack of social features like user reviews or news feeds for game update announcements, connecting to friends on different platforms, or adding dedicated streaming service like Twitch that could give it an edge over competition.

Some are also concerned that the client software for Epic Games Store creates local copies of Steam files and then shares this data with Epic – this poses a security risk and Tim Sweeney himself spoke up in a Reddit thread to express this sentiment.

However, for many players the main concern is switching between Steam and Epic Games Store, and may lead to PC gaming becoming disjointed across different stores, collections and communities. Therefore, it will be essential for Epic Games Store to focus on providing customers with an exceptional customer experience as it expands its library.

What are the main features of the Epic Games Store?

The Epic Games Store is a game distribution platform offering a carefully curated selection of titles – such as Control and Metro Exodus – along with an appealing variety of indie titles. Its design offers a welcome change from Valve’s ever-expanding mess of buttons, icons, menus, and popup windows reminiscent of 2005 teenage MySpace pages (though admittedly they do a fine job as well).

Epic has highlighted their revenue-sharing model as one of the main draws of its storefront, while adding features to narrow the gap with Steam.

Epic has recently introduced a text chat feature known as Whisper to allow players to communicate in-game. Future plans call for group chatting as well as news feeds on individual games. In the near future, cloud saves, redesigned store front, improved search, achievements shopping carts game gifting support mods as well as social revamping are on Epic’s agenda.

As much as these advantages may be beneficial, the fact remains that Epic Games Store doesn’t provide as many community features as Steam; this is most noticeable when it comes to social features.

Epic has taken steps to address that deficit and has provided some details in an updated blog post about its future roadmap. Some features Epic hopes to implement within the next several months include player cards that function similarly to other platform profiles, the ability to join friends’ games more easily and improved search. On a longer term basis, they hope to implement a more advanced social panel with features such as minimising the window size and muzzling notifications.

At present, gamers can access the Epic Games Store through installing Epic’s own launcher application – this also serves as an information hub and management system for game libraries and downloads – plus users can opt-in for notifications regarding new titles and platform announcements via this launcher.

What are the main advantages of the Epic Games Store?

The Epic Games Store boasts several advantages over Steam. Notably, users don’t need a Steam account in order to shop there; making switching much simpler for gamers who have been using this platform for some time now.

Epic Games Store makes another key advantage available to its players: cloud saves across platforms. This means you can take a game you started on your phone, pick it up on your laptop without starting from the beginning; an invaluable asset for people who play multiple devices at the same time and must switch between them often.

But beyond these basic advantages, the Epic Games Store doesn’t provide much more for users. It lacks significant community features like achievements or voice chat; gifting or newsfeeds; it instead uses a simple interface with self-service refunds as its only extra feature.

Epic offers developers a more attractive cut than Steam does, hoping to lure some of the more expensive titles away. Epic takes an average 12% cut versus Valve’s standard 8% share; even lower cuts may apply if a developer uses Epic’s Unreal Engine for development.

Additionally to providing financial incentives, Epic is also offering other inducements for developers to bring their games onto its storefront, including waived royalty fees for those made using Unreal Engine software; an attractive proposition for those trying to reduce costs.

Although its financial terms may be appealing, it remains uncertain whether the Epic Games Store will find favor with consumers. At launch it has only a smaller selection of games than Steam does and some serious privacy and security issues remain; but if it can demonstrate its reliability and attract additional games it could eventually outshout Steam in terms of market dominance.

Note, though, that Steam has been around for 10 years – even though its popularity may have diminished during Fortnite’s rise – and remains the dominant PC gaming platform. Therefore, for Epic Games Store to take a significant share from Valve, it will require significant effort on their part to take over substantial portions of market.

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