From Sega and Nintendo, to the emergence of Sony and later Microsoft in the market, rivalry within the video game industry has been a constant since its inception. In late 2018, Epic Games, developer of ‘Fortnite’, took advantage of the massive success of the battle royale, to launch its own digital store with which to try to fight for a share of the market computer players, one with which the competition won a lot of money.
Among the PC community there is an absolute king: Steam, owned by Valve, a developer who started his particular path to the top in 2003, launching an aggregator of different games, including Counter Strike. A year later, a game called Half-Life 2 would arrive exclusively for that same platform. The rest is history.
It wasn’t until the arrival of the giant Epic Games Store that a battle between two giants of the same size finally began. This dispute has sparked thousands upon thousands of comments in the community between those who defend their venerated Steam at all costs, and those who are grateful for the new blood offered by the creators of ‘Fortnite’. The arrival of the Epic Games Store highlighted some of Steam’s shortcomings and has now announced its partnership with three major studios to add to its other advantages for developers.
Epic Games Store’s main argument for convincing developers to publish in its online store is that for every game sold, the authors of the game get 88 percent of the money raised. The famous 12 percent of the store, which has generated so much debate, contrasts with the 30 percent that Steam can take (65-70 for the developer).
Steam revived the PC game market and made it possible for many developers to make a living independently. Historically, its contribution is unparalleled. Valve’s proposed 70-30 split on Steam was established almost two decades ago and was then a good thing: In those early days it made a lot of sense, especially in the face of the physical distribution structure, where the income that came to the publisher/developer set moved in the 35-45% range.
Steam has had many rivals in this time: Origin, from Electronic Arts, and Uplay, from Ubisoft, GoG, a digital store owned by CD Projekt, developers of The Witcher; the Humble Bundle store, now in the hands of IGN Entertainment; Green Man Gaming… the list is almost as long as it is inversely proportional to the commercial damage it has generated to Valve.
In the end, the reality of the battle between the Epic Games store and Valve’s is one in which remaining neutral is much easier than at other times. PC gamers are fortunate enough to have one more program installed on their computer, not another console for 400 or 500 dollars. At the end of the day, the distance between one exclusive and another can be a mouse click.