To summarize my thoughts on what Epic is doing, my problem isn’t with how they want to compete with Steam, nor is it that their store is lacking a bunch of features other stores have since they’re just starting out. It’s how they’re using their immense microtransaction-funded bank to bribe other publishers to perform a bait-and-switch when it comes down to where to release on PC.
Epic came to the scene because they have a lot of money and Steam needs competition. I’ve become less of a fan of Steam recently while branching out to other platforms all on the same PC platform. Namely, I’m realizing the value of itch.io and sites like it for the sake of utter indie weirdness. However, Epic is just another big corporation that has sold out a lot for one very popular at the moment game, like Valve has, given Dota 2 is still going on somehow. It’s just trading one for another, depending on how successful they are with this venture. While publishers and possibly subsequently developers will get a larger cut of the sales on the Epic store, it’s breeding dishonesty in terms of keeping words, and a lot of the parties involved seem to be treating the situation like they’re all royalty, having a lot of money for not much effort.
During this initial period, between when games were announced for PC and Steam was generally the go-to for PC games and when the Epic store came to light, suddenly everything is up in the air whether or not it will launch where it was going to in the first place. While launching on the Epic store alongside Steam would be fine, they just have to go sweeten the deal by offering a bribe up front to be exclusive for at least a year. Yet for some reason games might launch on other PC stores, so they’re not technically exclusive, they just don’t get to be on Steam for that time. Essentially recent developments have proven that this is less of an exclusivity deal and more of an exclusion one. GOG is likely also part of this exclusion, given another development, but I’m not entirely sure what is coming in the future. Maybe it’s to throw off how these backhanded deals are targeting Steam’s hold on the platform.
Again, Steam and Valve do need suitable competition so they can make better decisions again, but of course it’s coming from something even shadier. Epic having a large but currently non-majority stake taken by a Chinese megacorp doesn’t exactly help the shadiness problem. We’ll just have to see how much strings get pulled as the scenario develops, by Epic and by whoever’s behind it.