Epic Games: Making The Right Moves?
Epic Games has been one of the most important pillars of the video gaming industry. Their Unreal Engine powers many classics and mainstays such as Gears of War, Deus Ex, Bioshock, Tom Clancy Games, The Batman Arkham series, to fighting games such as Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Guilty Gear and even the new Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Their main cash cow in Fortnite still remains one of the most popular and most profitable games in the world; and is responsible for getting casual people and celebrities into the gaming sphere.
In contrast, their venture with Tencent and their moves to make the Epic Games Store has been marred with mixed reactions and controversy (link previous Epic article) leading several gaming communities to spite their very name. That sentiment however, is changing gradually. Recent opinion on them on the same gaming communities that has shunned them has almost taken a full 180-degree turn. What are they doing differently? Frankly, not much.
Free is a Very Enticing Word
You may have heard of the news lately: Epic Games Store is giving away one of the most popular games of all time in Grand Theft Auto V Premium Edition for a week as of this writing. The perennial classic and biggest money maker in gaming history has way surpassed expectations and is still a monthly top 10 game in sales and revenue seven years after release. With that kind of status, one must wonder what kind of strings Epic Games has pulled to make this happen.
This is certainly the biggest stunt or move Epic has pulled so far to get people to install their Steam competitor. So much so that their servers were down from traffic for several hours when the game went free. However, while it’s not as big as GTA V, Epic has been giving away quality release after release every week since the store began, almost under the radar. I have over 50 games from Epic Store after spending exactly 0 money and most of them are games that have reviewed well. And some of them were even strong contenders for game of the year previously.
Just from the top of my head they have given away 6 Batman Games including the Arkham series, Darksiders 1 and 2, Alan Wake, indie classics such as Celeste and SUPERHOT; and surprisingly even one of their more popular exclusive games World War Z (which is quite a blast to play). Epic has bolstered their stand as a Steam competitor with these offerings and who can blame people after seeing the word FREE?
The community has already been gradually warming up to Epic with these constant releases but GTA V is just too big to ignore.
Rumor is that Epic is gearing up for another Big Mystery Giveaway next week. There are murmurs that it might be Witcher 3 or Civilization 6. If so, please prepare for the internet to explode again.
That Huge Mega Sale Plastered on their Store’s Front Page
Now that you’re a proud owner of GTA V (or an owner again), you really can’t ignore the huge sale they have done for a few times already with big discounts. A game of the year contender in Control for 50% off? How about Borderlands 3 for 50% off? Have a Witcher 3 for 70% off too while you’re at it! And Red Dead Redemption 2 for 20% off? Plus here’s the kicker, they’re also giving away a $10 Coupon for any purchase above 14.99 which brings Star Wars: Jedi Order down to $5.59 after using it! May the force be with your wallets.
This is one of the things Steam built their empire on: Steep discounts, quality games and it’s clear that Epic is here so that Gaben won’t be the only one with free access to your bank account.
And they have done the same kinds of discounts for a few times now, each time gradually making a few more people to clutch their credit cards close to their hearts.
That Fortnite Travis Scott Event
Who the hell is Travis Scott? I honestly had no idea myself other than he’s the one behind “Sicko Mode” but that’s irrelevant on the real topic: Fortnite has been churning out endless amounts of content week after week and while the popularity is not as big as it was like 2 years ago, they have gained a huge amount of exposure for their Travis Scott event to the tune of 12.3 million concurrent players attending his online “Fortnite Concert”.
Fortnite has done a few big events previously, but nothing like this event – crossing over into the music industry and even more casual eyes and just in perfect time with most of the world in quarantine. While the opinion on Fortnite as a game is another controversial topic, the sheer power of it as a content platform for events and previous crossovers such as Avengers, Batman and even Michael Jordan is just unrivalled in gaming.
It’s one of those games that will continue to be part of pop culture such as WoW and Minecraft. And Epic is the machinery behind it.
That Jaw-dropping Unreal Engine 5 Reveal
With E3 2020 being cancelled, the whole industry has turned towards online reveals and doing “Nintendo Direct” type reveals. Just a few days ago, Epic showcased their newest technology with Unreal Engine 5. Showcasing the power of the upcoming Playstation 5, every minute of the demo “Lumen in the Land of Nanite” was just absolutely jawdropping with next-generation geometry, fully dynamic global illumination called Lumen and destruction physics that showcase the potential for upcoming games.
While this was showcased on a Playstation 5 (probably a marketing partnership), the same engine will power upcoming games on the Xbox Series X and PC, and will also be down scalable to current generation consoles including the Nintendo Switch and Mobile platforms.
The sweetest part of the deal? Developers have their royalties waived for using the engine until you reach $1 million in gross revenue. Plus, you know how Fortnite is compatible with cross-play across all platforms including Mobile? They’re bringing that to their SDK as well for Free.
That’s more than enough goodwill to keep developers using Unreal Engine, plus imagine the possibilities as more games open up their cross-platform play due to this.
More of the Same, Maybe The Right Kind of Same?
Let’s face it Epic Games Store is still no Steam, Fortnite is still going to have dissenting opinions, but along the way people are starting to realize that maybe Epic truly is beneficial for the industry?
It’s still going to be a heated conversation whenever you bring the name Epic or Fortnite in your gaming community, but free games? Cheap games? Free developer tools that will power the next generation of games and crossplay?
There’s still a ways to go for Epic Games Store to be as good as Steam especially in features, some new games are still exclusive, and we have still yet to realize what Unreal Engine 5 would translate into in terms of quality games, but maybe they’ve been doing the right things all along and everything was overblown up by gatekeepers in the first place?
Whatever it is, all I know is that I’m definitely looking forward to the next free game on their store.