Epic games: the engine maker, the game maker, the storefront handler…and now the games publishing house†
Epic Games Publishing officially came into existence on Wednesday by announcing plans to fund, launch and promote new multi-platform video games. The announcement revolved around two key points: which studios had already signed to EGP and what financial conditions EGP game developers can expect.
While most game publishing deals are typically not disclosed to the public, Epic has already opted to confirm some of EGP’s financial details. In addition to allowing studios to maintain “100%” control over their intellectual property (an increasingly popular term for game publishing contracts), EGP also promises to fund “up to 100%” of all game development costs. “Once the costs are recouped,” Epic says, developers will “earn at least 50% of the profits.” (That mix of “until” and “at least” in the last two points may imply that those numbers vary by pair, meaning that if a developer pays more of their development costs, they can claim more profit sharing in the long run. Epic has that point has not been clarified.)
Unsurprisingly, Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, described these terms as “the publishing model we always wanted for ourselves when working with publishers. [as an independent game studio]But we’re still left with some questions, all of which Epic hasn’t answered as of press release. EGP is touted as a “multi-platform” effort, but will EGP games ever be available outside of Epic Games Store on PC, and/or will the console versions of those games launch later than their PC versions to give Epic Games Store some form of timed exclusivity? Can EGP partners develop individual games as indie efforts or for other publishers while sharing? part of an EGP deal And each game contains a Fortnite outfit-and-dance tie-in? (The last question is a joke, but since Epic is a Fortnite skin for the Mixer game streamer Ninja, at this point anything is possible.)
Three notable studios have already signed up, and Epic says each studio will launch its “next” game through its EGP partnership. Remedy Entertainment first became popular in 2001 Max Payneand the latest game, Check, won Ars Technica’s 2019 Game of the Year award (marking his first game as an independent developer after a 12-year deal with Microsoft). Playdead launched both previous games, the indie darlings Limbo and Inside, featuring limited-time exclusive deals on Xbox consoles. And genDESIGN is headed by Fumito Ueda, the director responsible for PlayStation-exclusive classics icon and Shadow of the Colossus†
One of these deals will see Epic return to a previous EGS partner, as Remedy reportedly claimed a salary close to $10.5 million before launch. Check‘s PC version as a timed EGS exclusive. Epic says details about these studios’ upcoming EGP titles, and additional developers and games, should be released “in the coming months.”