Attempted Victory Through Memetic Exclusivity


Epic’s experimental game store still exists, and from what I’ve seen, they seem to have the idea that maintaining the store is a matter of picking up any game that has memetic potential, because their big money pit royale itself is a meme. Even with the store itself being hit or miss whether something will work, given the number of times I’ve heard of a DLC or patch or even a full game release not working at all, they still seem to be going. Whether or not most of the maintenance cost is being paid through microtransaction royale or people actually getting games from the store is up to examination of any actual numbers that show up.

I did say that I’d give them about 5 years before I’d consider them a standing store, and it’s been almost 2, so we’re not even halfway into that effective trial period. In that period, I’ve counted roughly 100 games that are or were exclusive to it at some point. That number would still be close if I excluded the games that were also available on first-party launchers alongside the Epic store, such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and whatever Ubisoft’s doing these days, which also tends to come out on Stadia lately. Some also ended up on the Microsoft store for those brave enough to try using that. The list I have on the site just highlights ones I’ve found that were going to release on Steam or somewhere else before going exclusive, or at least excluding those initial stores. That list started out as highlighting just how much they were targeting Steam initially, but now other stores are in the fold, and there are even a couple other stores gathering exclusive games at this point. I have another list that’s just counting the ones Epic took from the initial reveal without swiping them from Steam, just to try to keep my records straight.

I could easily list off games that are or were exclusive to that store on PC just because of the memetic impact that they or similar games have had, even with the limited scope I have due to me not really using social media, so finding things that actually show up in that radar would mean they’re somewhat notable. Untitled Goose Game, What The Golf, Maneater (maybe), and even as recent as Bugsnax, also a PlayStation console exclusive (though not just to the PS5). The number of games that were notable enough to end up on some level of memetic radar may be small compared to the total number, but you really only need a few breakout hits to claim some kind of success.

Even looking at all the others that haven’t been in the major word, you can see some intent behind them to reach out for keeping them to one store and one store only. Looking at games like Wattam, Hitman 3, Surgeon Simulator 2 (since it doesn’t seem to be on the radar as much as its precedessor), Shenmue 3, Bee Simulator, Superliminal, Super Meat Boy Forever (always a fitting title for games that take that long to come out), and that new Tony Hawk remake among others seems to make the plan pretty clear, they want to hit everything possible, any game that has the potential to be very popular is something they want all to themselves. Maybe this goes extra for Sony, as some of the games exclusive there are also named to be PlayStation exclusive on console. I’ve been seeing if there’s a direct connection, or if this is more the decisions of the publishers to embrace full exclusivity. If so, wondering just what those publishers are really thinking of their customer base is something the possible customers should be doing anyway. Big publishers are pushing hard on this aspect, even parts of games are being exclusive, like with that attempted Avengers game and whatever the latest Call of Duty is.

It’s weird how when consoles are becoming nearly the same as each other that they’re pushing a new era of console wars, but ones that won’t be fought on playgrounds, just ones fought against consumers trying to play games. And somehow these wars have extended to launchers and storefronts on the same platform, to get the users for a single system to break apart in the way that they did when arguing over consoles on those playgrounds prior, now just on social media. I’m fine with buying games across different stores, because I’ve been fine buying groceries at different stores as well, among other things. It’s when a store takes items that were going to be on the shelves of others and hoards them all to attract a crowd that annoys me. I like the option to buy things at other stores for whatever benefits that brings, such as lower cost or no DRM, not the requirement. This mainly goes for things that aren’t store brand, because store brand would be exclusive to a store. It’s weirder when it’s not store brand. Some stores are specialized in certain products, like pet supplies or electronics, but all these digital game stores sell games. Apparently competition in digital stores now involves depleting effectively infinite resources for personal gain. Meanwhile it seems competition in video platforms involves trying to be the slowest in making the site’s content unwatchable, because that’s apparently a goal of video sites now.