Epic Games, creator of the billion-dollar franchise Fortnite, plans to launch a digital storefront that will sell its own titles as well as those of other publishers. And it’s hoping to woo them with a bigger share of the sale.
The Epic Games store will launch “soon” with a curated set of titles for the PC and Mac, the company said. Additional platforms, including Android, will be added in 2019.
To convince publishers and developers to use their system, Epic said it will only take a 12% cut of game sale revenues. That’s significantly lower than the 30% taken by Valve Software on its popular Steam digital distribution service.
In addition to Valve, brick and mortar retailers could feel the impact from Epic’s foray into retailing as a major online competitor. Already flagging, GameStop recently lowered its fourth quarter forecast, saying software sales were likely to be lower than expected. The company is widely thought to be seeking a buyer.
Beyond that, Epic is offering developers a direct relationship with their players through direct newsfeeds for game makers to announce updates and upcoming releases. They will also be an inroad to the 10,000 streamers and influencers who help with exposure.
“We’ve built this store and its economic model so that Epic’s interests are aligned with your interests,” the company said. “Because of the high volume of Fortnite transactions, we can process store payments, serve bandwidth, and support customers very efficiently.”
Customer support is a key differentiator. Steam has a large user base, but is often slow with customer support, which has been a frustration with users. Brick and mortar stores, meanwhile, offer a different sort of support—and it usually requires players to visit those physical locations.
The company said it will reveal more about the store on Thursday during The Game Awards, a streaming year-end awards program that is fast becoming the video game industry’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Digital storefronts have been increasingly popular with players in recent years. Platform holders, however, have been looking at a Netflix-like game streaming model, which some industry insiders call the future of game delivery.