So we’re not going to see asset flips, and we’re going to explicitly say no to porn games or other intentionally controversial games
-Tim Sweeney, Gamasutra Interview
I have been waiting for somebody to play the quality card… or at least the “no porn” card… against Steam since the day Valve announced their policy of trying to be as hands off as possible when it came to which games made it onto their service. A policy that they couldn’t stop from biting themselves in the ass with even after they gave themselves a loophole to avoid just that.
But now Epic Games is stepping up to the plate when it comes to their store.
Not that this is a surprise. In the online video game storefront market Steam is the undisputed king, and the only way you make gains against an entrenched competitor like that is to play to your own strengths and against their weaknesses.
Epic has been using its generous revenue policy and its control over the Unreal engine to get developers to make the jump to the Epic Store, including some exclusives. That gets stuff in the store, but the customer doesn’t really care what the revenue deal is unless there it makes the price lower, and Steam sales are tough to beat for those patient enough to wait.
So now Epic is assailing Valve, if somewhat cautiously, on another front. Now they are playing the quality card, indicating that they won’t be hosting crap or porn or games that just want to be edgy or controversial. And that is fine. We get all angsty about freedom of expression in the US, but the constitution only applies to the government censoring you. A retail outlet refusing to sell your horrible game… or even your excellent game… isn’t a problem at all. If it were, I doubt WalMart would still be in business.
Interestingly, Tim Sweeney also made the distinction between the Unreal engine side of the company and the store front. They won’t be policing what people do with the Unreal engine once they license it. But they are also making it clear that just because you are using the Unreal engine doesn’t mean there will be a spot waiting for you in the Epic Store.
We’ll see how well this plays out. Epic doesn’t have to become Steam, they just have to grab enough exclusives… and give away enough free titles I guess… to make their store front a must have for some critical mass of gamers. They still don’t have anything that interests me enough to sign up, but the titles I play tend to come straight from the studios that make them in any case.