So Epic Games has made a store. That store is a little bit shit. Infact I'd even suggest it's the "early access" version of the store right now. Before I get people complaining yes I do have the launcher installed and yes I do will happily taking the free games being given out because why wouldn't I? They're free and I can put up with some of the features I'm used to with Steam (and even GOG Galaxy) being missing.
On the claims of it being Spyware, there's been a number of arguments online that it should be called that. Well when I run Spybot it picks up a load of advertising cookies normally so if those by the definitions of Spybot can be counted as a form of spyware then Epic Game Store looking into files related to Steam (even if it's not transmitting stuff back to home base) can be counted too. Sorry but that's the reality of the situation just because that time Ccleaner got infected with maleware it didn't actually do anything or activate it just sat there, it doesn't mean it wasn't malware. So yes by the broader definitions of Spyware it could very much be claimed Epic Games Store is a kind of Spyware, it's not a serious kind but so far it would count at least on the level of advertising cookies or similar.
"software that collects information about how someone uses the internet, or personal information such as passwords, without the user knowing about it" - Cambridge dictionary
The argument that it's not Spyware is false because Epic Game Store does copy a Steam file, sure it's to allow it to import Steam friends if you let it and sure it doesn't transmit other information but it does copy a Steam file that contains more than merely a friends list and does so without the user asking. Like it or not that can be classed as spyware, very mild almost non harmful spyware but still Spyware. That file does contain personal information (not passwords but other stuff) and it is made without the users knowledge. At least it's not spying on your for the Chinese government though eh?
Now I'm not super technical. I can do stuff but I was pushing my limited when I was getting the hard drives and the Ram out of my old Laptops and copying the files off them. Often when I system restore my computer I forget to copy over saves from games like my DRM free copy of Plants Vs Zombies. Steam offering Cloud saves on most games (and now GOG for a number of games) has been huge for me. While things like the PC gaming wiki might tell you where saves are store to let you go find them to back them up, having cloud saves has been a huge thing for me. Now for those not even as technical as me lack of cloud saves is detrimental to them. You want to talk about accessibility and how Sekiro needs an easy mode because people with fine motor control might struggle, well if their computer dies they'll need some-one to help remove that hard drive and copy the data over almost certainly unless there's cloud saves. So the argument could be made that the EPIC Game Store has accessibility issues. Even if you don't want to use such terms it's very much a regression in terms of PC gaming features from games on Steam with it being very much the minority without cloud saves to EPIC store where unless developers implement their own system the majority of games will have no cloud save function.
(and no the fact Epic has 2 games with cloudsave working so far is not enough to say the feature actually is completed yet)
With Epic's store missing more features like easy screenshots (something GOG has btw) it also makes it less likely to see people happily sharing their screenshots on social media which that word of mouth can very much help smaller indie devs games find their audience. Sure you could get something like Fraps or Bandicam as a work around but again if people are new to PC gaming they likely won't be that aware of such stuff and it's more steps in an age where even console have a screenshot function built in.
Next Epic store is missing any kind of built in mod support. I've installed mods for games in my time (mostly nude mods) but Steam allowing mods (though mostly not nude mods) to be easily installed very much is a good feature that benefits PC gaming.
Steam also very much operates as an all in one place for many games with user created guides and forums for the games built in and provided for the games. In the user forums devs can answer user questions and so can other users in a place easily accessible.
Epic's launcher's so woefully inadequate it didn't have a search bar in the store until recently and it still doesn't have a shopping cart (which caused chaos in the recent sale Epic ran).
I don't blame developers taking the deal at present, I'll however say those developers celebrating their publisher taking the deal on their behalf are being very naive and insanely optimistic if they think they are ever going to see any of that money themselves. Epic allegedly offering a lump sum that amounts to the expected sales in the exclusivity period (I'm guessing at Steams 30:70 split) for exclusivity and then also still paying them for sales too. That's a hard proposition to pass up it's more money than people who would buy the game can really compete with.
What I do find suspect is Epic's present methods of selecting games. You see for all the altruistic talk about doing this for developers. Most of the games that have been Epic exclusive have been from big publishers. In fact when an indie developer for an indie game that's not unknown but also not one of the indie darlings applied to be on the Epic Game Store their game was rejected and they were told try again another time. So Epic aren't helping developers who could make use of that extra money they're mostly helping big faceless corporations keep their CEO & shareholders in money to host more bunga bunga parties . With the recent acquisition of Psyonix and thus the Rocket League IP, Epic is just making in ever more clear that they're only after the Indie darlings, the break away hits. Epic aren't going to be funding the silly little arthouse projects that are high end indie but don't make huge amounts of money like Firewatch (even if I have my own objections to that title). For those who may not know Valve bought up the Firewatch developers amid claims the studio was struggling financially while working on their next game.
Speaking of the idea of developers going to Epic. The Epic Game store will run into the same issue Steam has with discoverability. Steam is trying to address these with the discovery booster thing but it's how the industry is going. There's so many games coming out and they're still listed among all the older games too. The idea of there being no stock limits means unlike your local supermarket the selection of media will extend beyond just the latest stuff and re-releases of the greatest. Steam still hasn't truly solved discoverability but they've tried with the Steam streaming thing showing up if a game is being streamed, the curators system and the discovery queue with incentives to use said queue. Epic have said nothing about how they plan to deal with this and once the initial rush is over and the games start piling up, they'll be a less and less attractive place to release a title.
This idea that the Epic Game store is some revolution in PC gaming etc and changing things up from the old 30% cut to the store is kind of funny too. You see whether by incompetence or oversight that 12% cut Epic takes has lead to other problems: In some regions there are claims of people trying to use the Epic Game store being hit with a surcharge on top of the cost of games because in said countries the cut the payment providers take is more than the 12% cut Epic takes so Epic would literally be losing money per sale there unless they added an extra charge to consumers. In other regions Epic doesn't support the regional currency of the area making it hard for people to buy games their (Source Appabend on youtube). Steam meanwhile does fine covering the costs from their 30% cut. When Epic decided to avoid the Google play store because Google took a 30% cut they had a point, Google didn't do much for developers, Valve does though by providing the range of options previously mentioned built into the launcher. This idea of an industry revolution also forgets that most major consoles take a 30% cut of digital sales on their stores too.
The whole "If Steam offered a 88% cut for developers by default we'd put our titles on Steam" is one of the most blatant attempts to target Valve yet. One of the major things that has allegedly motivated Valve for years is the idea due to their policies and practices they missed out on a little indie game you may have heard of called Minecraft . No really, part of Valves more to relax guidelines and allow things like Early access titles was because they believe due to their policies at the time and the closed nature of the store they missed out on Minecraft being on Steam. Additionally with Early access Valve found developers were catering to niches and fandoms that they never imagined would prove so lucrative such as visual novel and the fans of such titles (and no not just the porn ones).
So Epic only wants already successful developers at present with pedigree and the almost hilarious joke in this is the find them they're presently looking at what's doing well on Steam. Epic are just looking at what Steam has and trying to cream off the best in terms of indie games. The hilarious thing being with Epic's seeming plan, if they do overtake Steam or beat Steam into submission in this fight then who will they turn to find out what indie games are going to do well or which ones to pick. It's very easy to be the guy coming from behind just copying others, the AAA industries loves doing that and it's why Mojang doing something a bit different lead to them climbing in value so far while EA and Activision are seeing their share value drop.
The Epic Game Store isn't pro customer. They've said user reviews will be coming just not when and even when they arrive there's been talk that publishers and developers could just not enable them. While people might find review bombing distasteful it's an effective way to show developers just how unhappy people are. I mean petitions often aren't connected there on the game itself and obvious, so user reviews being able to inform customers especially going forward into the "Live service" culture of the video game industry are massively important. I can only really suggest those against user reviews and or petitions must live by the motto
The idea that "reviews" are harmful especially to companies is kind of hilarious. What are you going to see Activision the whole corporate building just moping down the street dejectedly? Is the EA logo going to suddenly burst into floods of tears?
The often corporate response is to wheel out some supposed developers who now "Feel bad and depressed because of the negative feedback" well maybe if you took better care of their mental health and weren't working them 100+ hour weeks they would be in a far more mentally healthy state where they didn't take negative reviews of a game as an attack on them personally, you ever think of that AAA industry? This whole thing about reviews and the industry is a topic for a another piece I'd say, suffice to say informed customers are far better for the industry than uninformed ones, even if uninformed ones are better for Bobby Kotick's back balance in the short term. Oh and to developers on about how it's unfair to get review bombed for stuff not related to the game? Don't fucking use the game to try and punish people by abusing DMCA, maybe try that, you use the game and your position working on it to go after people then your work will be used to send a message back to you.
Ok I've been railing against Epic for a while however it would be fair to say that Epic may have a redemption story in the future, the long distant future. Something that none of the other gaming press have seemingly picked up on or mentioned is a little bit of info Tim Sweeny let slip while replying to some complete twat (me) on twitter.
We’re actually doing both, but the first 9 months of store announcements are skewed towards games that are coming soon and hence we’re coming in very late in the development process. 2020 announcements will include a much wider variety of funding arrangements.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) June 20, 2019
(This blog was posted on my Entertainment Nasty Blog previously)