The competition for digital distribution platforms for games is really heating up in terms of developer revenue. Earlier this month Steam, the service owned and operated by Bellevue, Wash.-based Valve, announced changes to its revenue share for games that make more than $10 million in sales. Now those changes have been undercut by two competitors.
Discord just announced its store will let developers retain 90 percent of the profits from their games. This comes on the heels of Epic Games launching its own store, allowing developers to retain 88 percent of profits. Both of these profit shares apply across the board regardless of how much money a game makes. This is putting substantial pressure on Steam.
Until recently, Steam was largely the only place developers could use to mass distribute their games. The only companies that really had the ability to shirk the platform were large developers and publishers, such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Blizzard Entertainment. But many developers, especially those whose games don’t pull in millions of dollars, have been unhappy with the 70/30 split that Steam offers, according to Discord.
“We talked to a lot of developers, and many of them feel that current stores are not earning their 30 percent of the usual 70/30 revenue share,” reads a post on the official Discord blog. “Because of this, we now see developers creating their own stores and launchers to distribute their games instead of focusing on what’s really important — making great games and cultivating amazing communities.”
The post goes on to say that Discord did lots of research and found that the actual costs for distributing games don’t justify the platform retaining 30 percent of profits as Steam does. Discord says its operating costs would not exceed the 10 percent of profits it’ll receive and that it will be looking into taking that profit share even lower in the future. The change to the Discord store will take place in 2019.
Epic Games blew out of the gate with its store announcement earlier this month, not only with the better revenue share model but also with exclusive partnerships that will make certain games available only on its platform for up to a year. In addition to this, Epic will give its players a free game every two weeks for the next year, making the platform appealing not only to developers but gamers as well.
Both Epic and Discord are confident that developers will find their platforms better options than Steam, but the rate at which players adopt those platforms may lessen the impact of the attractive revenue sharing. Steam currently has nearly 100 million monthly active players.