The Epic Games Store has thrived as a digital storefront despite coming into the game well after Valve's Steam rose to prominence, and two business practices are in-part responsible. First is the storefront's practice of giving away free games on a regular basis, with Epic Games Store users claiming nearly 750,000 games in 2020. A more controversial practice is Epic Games getting the exclusive rights to different titles.
While the juggernaut battle royale Fortnite is exclusively available on the Epic Games Store for PC players due to it being developed by Epic Games, over 100 additional titles have at one point or another been exclusive to the storefront, according to estimates by PC Gamer's Tyler Wilde. Among them are recent releases like IO Interactive's Hitman 3, and many have taken issue with games being locked to one place. However, according to an Epic Games representative, this may become more prevalent going forward.
There will be more Epic Games Store exclusive titles in the next two years than have already been published to date, according to a statement Epic Games provided to PC Gamer this week. Over 160 million people use the Epic Games Store based on statistics in its 2020 year-in-review post last month, and those users will be able to access more free games, exclusive titles, and community-oriented features like player profiles in 2021.
While the Epic Games Store is perhaps the most well-known face in terms of getting exclusive access to different titles, it certainly isn't the only storefront using this strategy to its advantage. Apple Arcade has also made exclusive titles a cornerstone of its marketing, though in both cases these exclusivity deals are typically only relevant for a limited time.
Exclusive content has also become more common in recent years for games that are released across a variety of platforms. For example, Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has a PlayStation-exclusive Zombies Onslaught mode that will become more widely available on November 1, 2021, and Crystal Dynamics' Marvel's Avengers on PlayStation will be getting unique Spider-Man DLC.
The statement provided to PC Gamer does not specify how many new exclusive games will become available on the Epic Games Store over the next two years. However, some wildly popular titles including Remedy Entertainment's Control and Supergiant Games' Hades had timed exclusivity deals before seeing wider releases, and it's likely future titles such as Darkest Dungeons 2 will be as well-received. At this point, time will tell what Epic Games Store users can expect to see in the near future.
In the game industry, controversy doesn't always mean failure. For instance, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was riddled with criticism on release. Many players were angry with EA's monetization plans and accused the company of selling power in this competitive shooter. Even so, the game had a pretty successful launch, selling 9 million copies in only two months. That goes to show that there's some merit to the adage that all publicity is good publicity. Another company that seems to benefit from this is Epic Games. The proprietors of Fortnite have gone a long way with their online game store, in spite of loads of controversy.
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