Epic Shenanigans

In case you haven’t seen the news, the Epic Store has poached another timed-exclusive game release: Metro Exodus. The wrinkle this time is that rather than being planned from the start, Deep Silver must have been given a fat stack of secret cash because the game was already available on pre-order from Steam (which are still being honored, until removed from the Steam store). And, you know, the game was all set out to be released in 2.5 weeks.

I mentioned “fat stack of secret cash” because while the revenue split is more generous in the Epic Store, they are actually doing the only thing I said would matter in the competition space: Metro Exodus had its MSRP lowered from $60 (on Steam) to $50. Which means the gross revenue from this game would be:

  • Steam = $60 * 0.7 = $42
  • Epic = $50 * 0.88 = $44

That calculation demonstrates how a developer could still make a higher profit on the Epic store by dropping the price to $50, but here’s the thing: they are going to be losing a non-trivial amount of sales for not being on the PC’s largest storefront. Enough to matter? Remains to be seen. The Metro Redux (aka remasters) of the first two games sold 1.5 million copies back in 2016. That would be $3 million more in Deep Silver’s pocket if they sold the same amount of games… at full price… as the remasters of the last two games combined.

That $2 difference between revenue is 4.5%. If Deep Silver sells 4.5% fewer copies due to not being on Steam, then they lose almost $3 million. I mean, without even doing much calculations, you gotta know that for every Steam sale lost, they have to sell 22 copies in the Epic Store to break even. Ergo, I suspect that Epic was waving something more than simply the 88% cut in Deep Silver’s face.

And that’s kinda the baffling thing about all this. I’m not opposed to competition between companies, especially when it results in a gain in consumer surplus. Competing on price is a huge deal, and I’m sincerely amazed that Deep Silver pulled that trigger to sell at $50. But… why then yank the title from Steam as a “timed-exclusive release”? That isn’t consumer friendly or useful to anyone at all. Why not let the same title be purchasable on both platforms, and allow nature to run its course?

We’ll have to see how things shake out a year from now, when the game is finally released on Steam… presumably at a huge discount because it will have been a whole year.

Posted on February 1, 2019, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I wouldn’t think it would matter much. If you really want to play Metro Exodus you aren’t going to let having to download a launcher and create an account stop you, especially since it’s now 10 dollars cheaper. If you are only mildly interested in it then you are waiting for a sale anyway.


    • I think it matters a ton. If I have Steam and I’m looking for a new shooter to play, and I see Metro, I might buy it. If I don’t see it, I’ll buy the next shooter I do see. Sure big fans of Metro will seek it out, but my guess is a huge chunk of the previous game’s sales were from shooter fans, not Metro fans.


      • I could believe that about the first Metro, but the third? The games have an established fanbase at this point, and are memetically famous for being rather unique as far as shooters go. It’s hard for me to imagine a large group of people who are fan enough of shooters to buy random ones day one at full price completely blind, yet somehow are entirely unaware of other stores or have some particular loyalty to Steam. And that’s under normal circumstances, in this case anyone who has any awareness of any kind of gamer news knows now that Metro: Exodus is an Epic Store exclusive. All this drama has been better advertising than the Steam front page could ever be.


    • As Syncaine mentions, it’s not about the Metro fans who will follow the game wherever and buy it there. It’s about the people who don’t follow gaming news blogs or keep on eye on release dates, and primarily shop through the game launcher. Steam has had more than a decade to train people to look at the store, and train the “Recommended because you played X” algorithms to suggest the next new title in your favorite genre. Losing that as an advertising angle won’t have zero effect on the sales.

      On the other hand, Supply/Demand curves would suggest more copies overall will be sold given the $10 lower price tag, so maybe it’ll all even out.


  2. Also with this move, Epic has now ‘bought’ itself a ton of negative PR. The Reddit post about this and about boycotting the Epic Store hit the front page of Reddit for a bit, which is a LOT of eyeballs.


  3. I would buy Metro on steam, I bought the other ones, I like the franchise.
    That said, I don’t like it enough to buy it on a non steam store.


  4. Also worthy of note – only a discount in the US same price elsewhere


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