Epic Store angers the rest of everyone with their latest sale

Guest post by Tim Trahan

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The Epic Games Store, in continued efforts to compete with Steam, is having a Mega Sale! This sounds like great news for consumers, and it mostly is. However, in most cases, sales like this are negotiated with the publishers of games. Not this time. While Epic does have negotiated discount pricing on many games, they are also offering a flat $10 off any game over $14.99, out of their own pockets. So customers pay less, but developers and publishers get the same rate.

Good prices aside, this introduces some issues.  Pushing discounts during sales is one way games can drive additional sales post release, as the sense of getting a good deal can influence buyers to actually purchase the game. This promotion was also applicable for pre-orders, which led to Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 and Borderlands 3 being pulled from the store because companies are a little picky about pre-order pricing.

In another concrete example, Supergiant Games’ early access title Hades has been scheduled for a price increase before release, from $20 up to $25. Their games have been stellar (though I haven’t played Hades yet) and are well worth full price and probably more, but Supergiant was forced to delay that price increase because of pressure during this sale, so now the game has been available for $10, even before release. This means that for people evaluating sales later, the standard $5-$10 discount that Supergiant tends to put on their games during major Steam sales won’t have the same optics as the sale prices normally would. Thus the current promotion might drive more immediate sales for the game, and others in similar positions, but could damage their long-term earning potential.

Consumers have been unhappy with Epic Games for their aggressive spending to get timed exclusives, but their rates were favorable to game developers.  Now it’s time for devs to be mad about Epic’s aggressive spending to gain consumers’ support. There are a lot of problems that can be solved by throwing money at them, but I’m not convinced Epic knows how to best apply that money.
Thanks for the read! For more of my thoughts, follow me on Twitter, and check out my other video game related stories here.

Epic Games logo and picture of video games are courtesy of Epic Games.

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