Epic Games is now aggressively pursuing game exclusivity, with a newly-established Epic First Run program designed to encourage developers to keep their titles exclusive to the Epic Games Store in the first six months of release. In exchange, Epic is offering considerable reward, promising developers will retain 100% of revenue generated during this window of exclusivity.
The Epic First Run program is being offered to developers of all sizes from 16 October 2023, with the offer likely to benefit smaller developers in particular. With no profit split required to launch a game exclusively on the Epic Games Store, developers will be able to maintain their entire revenue share during the most important phase of game release.
After six months is up (or earlier, if desired), developers in the program are able to share their games to other third party platforms, with the Epic revenue split reverting to the standard 88% for developers, and 12% for Epic Games. Notably, developers will also still be able to share their games on their own proprietary stores and launchers. The program largely targets competition from larger platform rivals, like Steam.
In addition to forgoing its revenue split on exclusive games, Epic Games will also support these releases with in-platform marketing, including ‘exclusive badging, homepage placements, and dedicated collections’. Games will also be featured in store sales and editorial content where possible, allowing greater exposure.
The program is multi-faceted in that regard. For developers of all sizes, it means a chance at greater profits on a single platform, and visible marketing that may balance the loss of sales on other platforms, like Steam. For Epic Games, it provides an opportunity to get a leg up on its rivals, with exclusive games driving interest in its storefront, and allowing a key point of difference.
While larger developers are more likely to forgo the arrangement, as Steam remains the most popular and visible platform for PC gaming, First Run certainly has the potential to make great waves in the games industry. Forgoing a revenue split may impact Epic’s bottom line, but it’s more likely this caveat will lead to renewed interest in platform exclusivity, and improved goodwill with worldwide development teams.
We’ll likely begin to see the impact of the Epic First Run offering over the coming year, as Epic Games pursues lofty goals for more platform exclusivity.