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Epic Games dismisses accusations of data sharing and explains how it locks in exclusives

The Epic Games Store has quite a way to go before it can truly compete with already-established vendors such as Steam, but locking in Ashen, Hades, and The Walking Dead: The Final Season as launch exclusives is no small feat for the newcomer. Founder Tim Sweeney has since shared that it is Epic’s “pro-competitive” efforts that have allowed this seemingly unlikely feat to become possible.

Following accusations on Reddit that the Epic Games Store is being “literal Spyware and worse,” Sweeney stated that it is “up to you guys to decide what’s anti-consumer” but Epic does its best to “compete as a store and encourage healthy competition between stores.” The frustration understandably comes from the increasing amount of launchers on the PC platform, including but not limited to the Epic Games Store, Steam, Ubisoft’s Uplay, EA’s Origin, Blizzard’s Battle.net and CD Projekt Red’s GOG.

According to Sweeney, competition helps to provide “better prices” for the customer, “better deals for developers, and more investment in new content and innovation.” The main draw to alternative launchers then becomes exclusives, which “don’t come to stores for free; they’re a result of some combination of marketing commitments, development funding, or revenue guarantees. This all helps developers.”

The founder relates these developments in the video game industry to film and television, in which “much of the investment is the result of Netflix and Amazon competing with new stores.” Unfortunately “the proliferation of launchers is an annoying side effect of this, but the problem could eventually be solved through federated or decentralized software update tools,” according to Sweeney.

“There are ongoing conversations about this,” explains the post. “But multiple stores are necessary for the health of an ecosystem. When there’s only one, their natural tendency is to siphon off more and more of the revenue, which then go to monopoly profits rather than CREATORS! All developers recognize this because their business are being crushed under the weight of these increasing store taxes. This is why devs have been super enthusiastic about the Epic store.”

Specifically addressing the accusations of being spyware, Sweeney clarified that “Epic does not share user data with Tencent or any other company. We don’t share it, sell it, or broker access to it for advertising like so many other companies do,” and will not so long as Sweeney is the controlling shareholder.

“The language related to sharing data with the parent companies refers to Epic Games Inc. It’s a US-based company. This language exists because when you buy an Epic game in certain territories (like Europe), the seller of record is our local (e.g. European) subsidiary company for tax purposes, but the data is ultimately stored by Epic Games Inc.”

The Epic Games Store has also been criticised for its lack of features, particularly customer feedback. Sweeney echoes that the Store is still in its early stages and will receive a “review system based on the existing one in the Unreal Engine marketplace. It will be opt-in by developers. We think this is best because review bombing and other gaming-the-system is a real problem.”

KitGuru Says: The Epic Games Store is bound to be scrutinised in its infancy, compared to launchers that are significantly more fleshed out, but Sweeney and his teams are dedicated to making it a true competitor in the market. Time will tell whether or not it will truly stack up but the promised features are certainly worth the wait and support for. How do you feel about the Epic Games Store?

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