Headline September 23, 2019/ '' 'VIDEO -GAMES- VELCRO' '' : STUDENTS



EPIC IS ALREADY OFF TO a strong start. It has greater access to China's lucrative market, with more than 300 million computer gamers, through its investor Tencent

That company paid $330 million or 40% of Epic in June 2012, years before Fortnite became a global phenomenon, in a deal that valued the company at about $800 million.

To court developers, it has promised to keep only 12 percent of game revenue, less than half of what Steam keeps. And it waives the 5 percent royalty fees for games using its Unreal Engine, a suite of design tools used by developers.

Many publishers and developers of computer games are eager to do business on the new platform.
For years , Ubisoft released blockbuster titles like Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell on Steam.

But it decided not to sell the sequel to its hit game Tom Clancy's The Division on the platform because Valve would not modify its revenue-sharing model, said Chris Early, Ubisoft's vice president for partnerships and revenues. The game is for sale on the Epic Games Store and Uplay and Ubisoft store. .

The move was part of a broader business discussion at Ubisoft about releasing titles on Steams, Mr. Early said. 'It's unrealistic, the current business model that they have,'' he said. ''It doesn't reflect where the world is today in terms of game distribution.''

Other developers declined to discuss contractual details of their exclusive deals with Epic, citing nondisclosure agreements, but they said money was factor in their decision-making.

To draw players, Epic is offering lower prices and exclusive release windows. With the money flowing from Fortnite, Epic has been able to pay several developers for exclusive distribution rights on the Epic Games Store.

Title like Metro : Exodus and Border-land 3 will not be found on Steam for at least six months after their release.

Epic said in March that its store has 85 million accounts, although it was unclear whether they were used to purchase games. Anyone who plays Fortnite on a computer must log through the Epic Games Store.

By comparison, Valve has said that 90 million people visited Steam monthly in 2018.

Some users saw promise in the competition. When digital distribution was nascent, many players resented using Steam, said Ryann Berg, 41, a resident Salt Lake City who has been playing computer games since the late 1980s.

But the cost saving for developers fueled a surge of high-quality independent games, he said, adding that by giving creators a large portion of their sales, the Epic Store can help find similar innovation.

''It is an inconvenience for the gamers, but it has great potential to be a great payoff for the consumers if they remain patient,'' he said.

Developers who have signed deals with Epic say that competition is good for the industry. After other platforms new standards for digital game refunds, Steam followed suit.

''What's A Sony without a Microsoft and Nintendo?'' said Greg Kasavin, the creative director of Supergiant Games, which put out early access to to its dungeon crawler Hades exclusively on the Epic Games Store for a year.

Tommy Refenes, the co-creator of Super Meat Boy, an independent game notable for its high level of difficulty, said there should be a better model for buying and selling games.

''The only way we'll get it is if companies with tons of money are innovating and trying to outdo each other,'' he said.

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