Tim Sweeney Believes Digital Storefront Ecosystem Is “Nearly Perfect For Consumers” At This Point [Update]

[Update/Correction:] Following the publication of this article, Tim Sweeney clarified via Twitter that he was referring to the overall landscape of digital store offerings and not necessarily the Epic Games Store regarding his state of “it’s nearly perfect”.

[Original article:] Recently, Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games, took up an interview with outlet MCV to discuss his thoughts on video game business, storefronts, and what he believes will push the Epic Games Store ahead. And as of now, Sweeney thinks the Epic Game Store is “nearly perfect for consumers” and that all it needs is more “game supply,” “consumer prices,” and “developer revenue sharing.”

The Epic Game Store is a newly established storefront, especially when comparing it to something like the giant that is Steam. Speaking of Steam, you might know the Epic Game Store through the Metro: Exodus debacle that popped up two weeks before the game hit the former store. Well, the CEO of Epic Games talks more about video game poaching, how influencer-friendly systems will help the storefront and other things related to Steam.

Firstly, publication site mcvuk.com starts off the interview with Sweeney offering his thoughts on the video game industry when asked about significant changes:

“I think the game business will change more in the next five years than the past ten. The last remnants of the old retail model of gaming are falling apart, and the biggest successes are fast-moving indies and fast-moving big competitors – exemplified by Fortnite and Apex Legends. All of the old decisions need to be revisited.”

On the topic of changes and new things, Sweeney tells the outlet that the tech behind the Epic Game Store has been built long before the team had a business model supporting it. What accelerated this business model is the infamous battle royale title Fortnite, as explained by Sweeney:

“It [Fortnite] accelerated everything by bringing in the large audience of engaged gamers required for a successful storefront launch, and the e-commerce economies of scale for an 88-12 per cent revenue-sharing model.

Sweeney continues:

“Other stores on open platforms have been slow to respond so far.”

The piece also highlights that video game delivery on the platform is only half the deal. Epic offering financial incentives to games which move exclusively to the store is said to be a top priority and not store options/features or install experience:

“It’s nearly perfect for consumers already… There is no hope of displacing a dominant storefront solely by adding marginally more store features or a marginally better install experience. These battles will be won on the basis of game supply, consumer prices, and developer revenue sharing.”

According to Sweeney’s wording, developers seem to be more important than consumers insofar that the team doesn’t mind poaching games from storefronts like Steam and carefully selecting AAA games that will turn the Epic Game Store into a 50 game store and then to a 250 game store:

“The Epic Games Store team has been working with developers around the industry to identify prospective titles. In this early phase, we are starting with a small number of carefully selected games based on consistent quality across a wide variety of scopes. Throughout 2019, the store will open up more widely to a 50-game version of the Epic Games Store and the 250-game version will be significantly evolved.”

The interview also touches on Sweeney’s thoughts regarding discovery and how he believes the ultimate source for players to discover new games will not be through the Epic Game Store itself but creators:

“We believe the ultimate vector for players to discover new games will not be our storefront but creators, which is why Epic’s ‘Support a Creator’ program is integrated into store operations.”

Sweeney also mentions:

“Viewership of creator channels has greatly outgrown any storefront. In Korea and China, the primary game distribution vectors are social: WeChat, KakaoTalk and QQ, rather than storefronts. As with the twists in Fortnite’s evolution, one shouldn’t necessarily project the Steam or App Store paradigm onto its final form.”

Lastly, the interview ends with Sweeney basically saying that Epic succeeds when its partners do, too:

“Epic succeeds when our partners succeed. Our whole business model is built on supporting this thesis.”

What are your thoughts on Sweeney’s thesis for growing the controversial storefront known as the Epic Games Store?


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