Epic Takes on Steam, Plans to Gift 500 Magic Leap Glasses

Epic Games has just made Steam an offer that’s hard to refuse: that it would “retreat from exclusives” if Steam “committed to a permanent 88 percent revenue share for all developers and publishers.” Since Epic opened its own store with that revenue share model in late 2018, a long list of high profile game developers left Steam to debut new titles with Epic. The company also partnered with Magic Leap to award 500 Magic Leap One glasses — normally priced at $2,295 — to developers working in augmented reality.

Engadget reports that Epic Games chief executive Tim Sweeney tweeted that offer to Steam, adding that, with regard to exclusives, it would honor its partner commitments, and that it would also “consider putting [its] own games on Steam.” Currently, Epic owns “Gears of War” and “Fortnite,” the latter which has “turned the company into a $15 billion business.” Neither game is available on Steam.

Steam’s 70/30 revenue share is a reflection of the fact that its parent company Valve “has long been unchallenged in the digital marketplace.” It shifted its own revenue model for very successful developers: those whose games make more than $10 million earn 75 percent of revenue, and those whose titles make more than $50 million get 80 percent “of all subsequent earnings.”

Shortly thereafter, Epic Games opened its store. Another new store, Discord, offers developers 90 percent of the revenue. Even so, Steam still dominates, “offering more games than any other PC platform and serving as an entrenched, trusted service for millions of players worldwide.” If Steam accepts the offer, wrote Sweeney, it would “be a glorious moment in the history of PC gaming, and would have a sweeping impact on other platforms for generations to come.”

VentureBeat reports that the 500 free Magic Leap One AR glasses that Epic plans to give to developers are “in addition to the $100 million Epic is giving away as part of its MegaGrants fund … [to] support game developers, media creators, educators, and others who are working on projects that either use the Unreal Engine or somehow enhance open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community.”

Epic, which stated there is no deadline, said developers can submit an online application for the AR glasses and that they will “be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.” Sweeney described the MegaGrant fund as his company’s “way of giving back to the development community.” The grants, which go up to $500,000, support game developers; enterprise; educational, academic projects; and open source projects “even if it doesn’t have any bearing on Unreal.”