It’s been a little less than five years since developer and publisher Epic followed in Valve’s footsteps and made a digital game download service. The Epic Games Store made headlines for three things: offering free games on a weekly basis, giving third-party devs a more generous revenue split than Steam, and pissing off a ton of people with timed exclusives you could only buy on Epic. EGS is set to get even more of those exclusives very soon, because a new promotional program will let developers keep 100% of game revenue for up to six months.
The Epic First Run program (spotted by KitGuru) is a more open alternative to the kind of one-by-one exclusive deals that Epic secured for single games, like Borderlands 3 and Metro Exodus. Under the terms in the announcement, any developer or publisher that posts a new game exclusively to the Epic Games Store after October 16th will get to keep 100% of game sales for the first six months, an even more lucrative option that Epic’s default 88/12% split. For comparison, Steam’s standard platform fee is 30%, a similar setup to most mobile app stores and console digital downloads.
While Epic insists that those games stay exclusive to its PC store for six months, devs can expand to Steam and other storefronts after six months and still get the standard 88/12% split after that. Perhaps more interesting, Epic’s terms still allow developers and publishers to sell on alternate shops like Green Man Gaming or the Humble Store, or even their own website, so long as the game is still redeemed on Epic.
The First Run Program is going to be appealing for a lot of game makers. That’s especially true of indie developers, for whom an extra 12-30% income on each game sale could be the difference between keeping the doors open or shutting down. It helps that, thanks to constant free game giveaways, Epic has a much bigger profile in the PC gaming space than it did a few years ago, if only because the company has given away hundreds of free games. I predict we’ll be seeing many more smaller games, and even a few notable titles, stick to the Epic Games Store in the next year or so.