Epic Games, the video game developer behind Gears of War, the Unreal Engine, and the Fortnite franchise, announced on Tuesday morning with a post on its website that it will debut its own eponymous digital storefront in the near future.
Details about its “hand-curated” launch lineup are promised to debut at the Game Awards conference this coming Thursday. The initial announcement has drawn attention and praise from throughout the video game industry for a surprisingly thorough and favorable arrangement for publishers, particularly independent publishers, on the platform.
— Epic Games (@EpicGames) December 4, 2018
According to the initial post, developers who publish games via the Epic store will receive a flat share of 88 percent of their sales revenue. Steam, by comparison, takes 70 percent, and made headlines this past Friday by introducing a new system in which best-selling games would improve their revenue share to 75 or 80 percent upon reaching sales thresholds of $10 million or more.
Epic frequently licenses out its Unreal Engine to other studios where it’s used to make games such as Soul Calibur VI, Mutant Year Zero and Evasion. This is typically in exchange for a 5 percent share in the game’s royalties, but for an Unreal game’s sales on the Epic store, Epic has promised to cover that royalty out of its 12 percent share.
Other promised features of the Epic store include a Support-A-Creator program, which allows streamers, bloggers, and video creators to earn a share of revenue from any sales of games they recommend; a newsfeed system that directly connects developers with people who’ve bought their games; and direct developer control of their game pages, without Epic-placed ads or attempts at cross-marketing.
The Epic store’s revenue split mimics the new terms that Epic set back in July for users of the official Unreal Engine Marketplace. In both cases, Epic emphasized that the change was the result of the high volume of transactions that have resulted from the overwhelming success of Fortnite.
Back in September, Epic reported that Fortnite has around 78.3 million active users, with a peak concurrent player count of 8.3 million. At any given time, there are roughly as many people in the world who are playing Fortnite as there are people living in Paraguay. While the game’s infamously addictive Battle Royale mode is a free download, the game makes most of its money via optional microtransactions, letting players spend (currently well over $1 billion of) real money for cosmetic enhancements for their characters.
Epic Games was originally founded in 1991 as Potomac Computer Systems, in Potomac, Maryland, by Tim Sweeney. It became Epic MegaGames in 1992, and released a series of games for the PC before hitting mainstream success with the Unreal franchise.
The head-to-head first-person shooter Unreal Tournament was a fan favorite in the ’90s and ’00s, while Epic licensed out the engine that powered it as a popular tool for other developers. Epic went on to create the Gears of War and Infinity Blade series before the release of Fortnite. It’s currently headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, with satellite offices in Yokohama, Edinburgh, Guildford, Helsinki, Berlin, Stockholm, Seoul, Salt Lake City, and Bellevue, Wash.