Epic has just made it much easier for small and individual developers to get their titles on the Epic Games Store. The company’s self-publishing tools, which came out of closed beta Thursday, allow any developer to submit their game to Epic’s platform for a $100-per-game fee.
Since its late-2018 launch with a small, curated selection of games, the Epic Games Store has slowly expanded to include nearly 2,000 titles. But those games have been selected by Epic for inclusion based on a “high quality standard,” as Epic’s Tim Sweeney put it to Ars in 2019, leading to the publication of a number of “how to get published on the Epic Games Store” tutorials.
“We’re not going to be that sort of venue [that accepts everything] because we don’t think we can help those games to reach users,” Sweeney told Ars in 2019. “So it’s going to be driven by quality.”
Epic has been building toward a more open store for a while, though, launching self-publishing as a limited closed beta in mid-2021 and just barely missing a 2022 goal to open the system up to everyone.
Here comes everyone
Today’s self-publishing expansion will likely lead to an explosion of new titles appearing on the Epic Games Store, much as Steam’s 2017 opening of “Steam Direct” publishing led to a vast increase in the number of annual releases on that platform. It will also allow many more developers to take advantage of Epic’s heavily promoted 12 percent cut of sales revenues, as opposed to Steam’s 30 percent standard.
The Epic Games Store also allows developers to use third-party or developer-controlled payment tools for in-app purchases, letting those publishers “receive 100 percent of the revenue” from those purchases if they so choose. That lines up with the stand Epic has taken in its long-running battle with Apple over allowing such third-party payments on iOS. Epic will also pay for free age-rating services for EGS games through the International Age Rating Coalition and provide free localization for game description pages on its storefront.
But while Steam says it allows anything short of illegal content and trolling on its store (at least ostensibly), Epic lays out a few basic content requirements for games that want to be listed on EGS. The platform will bar games that earn Adults Only ratings, as well as ones that include “hateful or discriminatory content; pornography; illegal content; [or] content that infringes on intellectual property you do not own or have rights to use.”
Titles that include “scams, frauds, or deceptive practices, such as fake games or malware” are also not allowed on the Epic Games Store. And EGS games need to meet a minimum “quality and functionality” bar that’s consistent with any descriptions listed on the store page.
Other requirements to get listed on EGS include:
- PC Crossplay (for multiplayer games): Allowing players to connect with others “regardless of where the game was purchased”
- Epic Games Store Achievements: These must be available “if the game has achievements on other PC stores”
- Game ratings: Optional in many regions (and provided “at no cost to you” by Epic itself) but required if you’re distributing in Australia, Brazil, Russia, or South Korea
Elsewhere, in a newly published 2022 “year in review,” Epic revealed that it gave away over 700 million free copies of 99 distinct games to over 230 million total customers last year. The free games program will continue through 2023, showing that Epic is willing to continue throwing money at the platform in an attempt to carve off more market share from Steam.