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Op Ed

Cliffski's Blog - Why epics strategy makes a lot of sense. To be clear, this is not Cliff Bleszinski.
"Before going any further I want to make some core assumptions. if you disagree with these stop reading now, because we have no common ground!

  • Game developers are generally trying to make good, fun games, and stay in business, nothing else.
  • Its good for gamers if the games marketplace is competitive, as this keeps the prices low, and the services high.

I don’t think either are controversial. if you are literally twelve years old, you may dispute 2), but…do some reading. Monopolies, whether they are near or absolute are a bad thing. Not because the people involved are bad, but just because competition keeps people hungry, keeps people innovative, keeps people working. There was theoretically competition in the marketplace to make cleaner-fuel cars for decades, until one company showed up to provide *real* competition, and then whoah, suddenly the customer has a vast array of cheaper-than-ever and better-than-ever electric cars! Disruptors entering a market make things better for ALL consumers, even if they still stick with the same supplier…

To put this another way, even if you love steam (I do!) and only buy your games from steam (95% steam, 5% origin here), and never, ever, ever will ever buy a game elsewhere…then competition (from epic etc) is STILL good for you, because it forces steam to stay competitive."

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25. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 17:17  jdreyer 
 
Show me a third party PC game that launched on platforms other than Steam that was successful.

Third party means not games from companies with their own stores: EA, Ubi, ActiBlizz, etc.
 
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24. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 17:13  jdreyer 
 
Primalchrome wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 15:33:
Great post stryer, while I disagree with part of your take...I respect it. Well thought out and reasonable. I'd say leave these two words out :
thestryker wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 14:17:
de-facto
monopoly
Because neither is applicable and detracts from an otherwise strong stance. Steam is neither a dejure or defacto monopoly. It's not even fair to say it is part of an oligopoly.

Steam isn't a monopoly in PC gaming for first party titles, given that EA, Ubi, Actiblizz, etc. make plenty of money from their AAA offerings. However, for third party titles, Steam is by far the dominant force.
 
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23. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 17:08  jdreyer 
 
Simon Says wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 15:06:
VaranDragon wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 11:20:
In before everyone jumps on the hate bandwagon. Nothing written in this tiny bit of Blog blurb is wrong. (Except for the good, fun games part, the cynical among us might take some exception to that)

Must've missed that part: "There was theoretically competition in the marketplace to make cleaner-fuel cars for decades, until one company showed up to provide *real* competition, and then whoah, suddenly the customer has a vast array of cheaper-than-ever and better-than-ever electric cars!"

"Real" competition, looking at the prices, I see ZERO. Those prices haven't budged since your "real" competition kicked in.

Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is Epic.

Many car companies are offering hybrids, PHEVs, or pure electrics, given that Tesla proved there was a market and is getting lots of press.
 
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22. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 17:06  jdreyer 
 
Verno wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 14:32:

I'm also unsure of how you came to the conclusion Steam is a "de-facto monopoly" in a world where it has so many competitors. GOG, uPlay, Origin, EGS, Fanatical, Humble Store, GamesPlanet, GMG and the list goes on. Over the past few years its almost more common for games to be everywhere but Steam it feels like. EGS does not need to engage in these silly things to establish itself as has been pointed out many times. If instead of putting out a minimum viable product and silly tweets they actually made a competent client, the messaging and buzz around EGS would be significantly different. To this day no one has really come up with a decent Steam alternative in that regard.

That's like saying Boeing isn't a monopoly because Cessna and Cirrus exist. EA's Origin sells non-steam games, but the vast majority of their sales are first party games, despite having near parity on features. GoG's sales are also a tiny fraction of Steam's, despite offering many of the same games and existing for over a decade.
 
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21. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 16:00 Creston
 
ts good for gamers if the games marketplace is competitive, as this keeps the prices low, and the services high.

Monopolies, whether they are near or absolute are a bad thing. Not because the people involved are bad, but just because competition keeps people hungry, keeps people innovative, keeps people working.

Yeah, and I see where you're going, and that's where your pretty analogy breaks down. So this Steam "monopoly" that's supposedly so bad for us, has actually done a great job at keeping prices low and providing us with tons of services. FUCKTONS of services. You see, Steam allows their keys to be sold on other stores, and those stores sell those keys cheaper. In the last six years, I haven't paid full price for a game, period.

And the services, well shit, what CAN'T you do on Steam?

Now let's compare it with the Epic game store, and we'll see, oh, full price, and no option for a cheaper price because you can't buy it anywhere else because they buy exclusives which are so great for competition.

And as for services... Do we even need to bother?

So yeah, I'd say Steam is better than EGS for cheaper prices and better than EGS for services. Steam 2, Epic 0.

Can EGS get better? Sure. Will this automagically lead to better prices for the consumer? No. Will this lead to "better" games because "more money can be put into games"? Maybe. I doubt it, but I guess it's possible.

Right now, it's in no way a win for consumers unless they are gung-ho about making sure publishers get more money back. If that's your particular beach to die on, more power to you. To me all I see is that games I used to be able to buy for 25% off on GMG are now just full price and fuck you they are available nowhere else. It's so much better for you!

Again, I don't care that EGS is using money to muscle its way into a market place, whatever. I'll buy all these exclusives in two years when they're in a Humble Bundle for $12. But this insane rhetoric that Steam has been BAD for gaming... Without Steam PC gaming would have been DEAD 15 years ago. As opposed to the monstrous gaming powerhouse it is now.

There was theoretically competition in the marketplace to make cleaner-fuel cars for decades, until one company showed up to provide *real* competition, and then whoah, suddenly the customer has a vast array of cheaper-than-ever and better-than-ever electric cars! Disruptors entering a market make things better for ALL consumers, even if they still stick with the same supplier…

Lol, right. The reason cars have been getting better mileage is because of CAFE standards. Not because of fucking Tesla. Nobody in the automotive world is worried about Tesla and their 5000 cars a month and their inability to make a profit. But hey, nice try at somehow comparing this to Steam vs EGS. Last I checked Tesla didn't buy exclusive cars either.
 
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20. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 15:57 Slashman
 
Simon Says wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 15:06:
VaranDragon wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 11:20:
In before everyone jumps on the hate bandwagon. Nothing written in this tiny bit of Blog blurb is wrong. (Except for the good, fun games part, the cynical among us might take some exception to that)

Must've missed that part: "There was theoretically competition in the marketplace to make cleaner-fuel cars for decades, until one company showed up to provide *real* competition, and then whoah, suddenly the customer has a vast array of cheaper-than-ever and better-than-ever electric cars!"

"Real" competition, looking at the prices, I see ZERO. Those prices haven't budged since your "real" competition kicked in.

Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is Epic.

They are. They're giving it to greedy publishers and developers.
 
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19. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 15:53 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
Competition in a regulated marketplace = good,

Bribery and exclusives = bad.

Epic Game Store easily could have just sold games for $10-15 less than Steam, and let the dice roll, but no they had to bribe dozens(hundreds by now?) of game developers to do this timed exlcusive nonsense.

I actually want to argue against all points of this article, because clearly many game developers care more about generating revenue than making a good game; we're living in the era of microtransactions and artificially lengthening grind time. We would have been lucky if it just stopped at horse armor.

Reality is also at odds with his second point, because this is not a competitive move, as far as customers are concerned. It's a war between corporations, customers will receive no benefits.(lower prices, better service, etc.)

Hopefully somebody starts and continually updates a page with every game that is now trapped behind an exclusive store, this is getting ridiculous.

 
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18. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 15:34  Cutter 
 
I don't think some people quite understand what monopoly means. If Steam were a monopoly that's the only digital platform that would exist. You couldn't buy product anywhere else from anyone else. Steam is dominant in their market but they're hardly a monopoly. Further, they don't do exclusives either. My only real problem with Steam is them not permitting resales - which applies to all digital retailers.


 
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17. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 15:33  Primalchrome 
 
Great post stryer, while I disagree with part of your take...I respect it. Well thought out and reasonable. I'd say leave these two words out :
thestryker wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 14:17:
de-facto
monopoly
Because neither is applicable and detracts from an otherwise strong stance. Steam is neither a dejure or defacto monopoly. It's not even fair to say it is part of an oligopoly.
 
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16. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 15:06  Simon Says 
 
VaranDragon wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 11:20:
In before everyone jumps on the hate bandwagon. Nothing written in this tiny bit of Blog blurb is wrong. (Except for the good, fun games part, the cynical among us might take some exception to that)

Must've missed that part: "There was theoretically competition in the marketplace to make cleaner-fuel cars for decades, until one company showed up to provide *real* competition, and then whoah, suddenly the customer has a vast array of cheaper-than-ever and better-than-ever electric cars!"

"Real" competition, looking at the prices, I see ZERO. Those prices haven't budged since your "real" competition kicked in.

Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is Epic.
 
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15. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 14:32 Verno
 
Steam is a de-facto monopoly which is something that people seem to ignore. The large cut they take is also why every big publisher has their own storefront now.

Your whole premise seems flawed. Most of the big publishers are publicly held, there would be enormous pressure for them to maintain their own platforms regardless of whatever percentage other storefronts like Steam have. They don't care if Steam wants to charge 5% or 50%, they want to BE Steam. Their shareholders demand the most return for their money and so their creation of walled gardens is inevitable.

I'm also unsure of how you came to the conclusion Steam is a "de-facto monopoly" in a world where it has so many competitors. GOG, uPlay, Origin, EGS, Fanatical, Humble Store, GamesPlanet, GMG and the list goes on. Over the past few years its almost more common for games to be everywhere but Steam it feels like. EGS does not need to engage in these silly things to establish itself as has been pointed out many times. If instead of putting out a minimum viable product and silly tweets they actually made a competent client, the messaging and buzz around EGS would be significantly different. To this day no one has really come up with a decent Steam alternative in that regard.

My personal stance is shaped by the fact that I am not a fan of any billion dollar business as I'm very aware they just want every dollar they can get. I don't see a difference between Epic and Valve as they're both shitty faceless billion dollar companies just trying to take every dime.

I mean, I don't disagree but you also can't ignore how a company behaves. If one company gives me a better platform and has more consumer friendly policies, that's the company I am giving my business. The whole "its just a launcher" attitude is fine but not all launchers are created equally, some are more convenient and have more features than others. It just sort of makes sense that the market favors those.

I'm not one of those people swearing off ever using the EGS but right now they just haven't given me a lot of reason to do so /shrug They could really stand to get Tim off Twitter and work on the core product and sales promotions. Give us a good client and run some sales, people aren't asking for much here.

This comment was edited on Aug 7, 2019, 14:49.
 



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14. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 14:17 thestryker
 
Steam is a de-facto monopoly which is something that people seem to ignore. The large cut they take is also why every big publisher has their own storefront now.
Anyone with a memory would know that competing on features and availability alone will not unseat this monopoly. When EA launched Origin (yes I know they're the "evil empire") it had mostly feature parity, but also had refunds built in. They offered all sorts of games on the platform, not just EA. They also were giving away free games (I don't recall if this was upon launch or shortly after, but it didn't seem to last all that long).

Firstly the world erupted almost identically to Epic Exclusivity because how dare EA put Battlefield on their own launcher/store. Secondly everyone mostly shrugged and didn't change their habits except for the EA games they wanted to play. Origin was pretty clearly part of the reason that Steam got a revamped refund system when it did. Now I don't believe EA sells any third party games on Origin (I have no interest in scouring it to see). It obviously isn't a failure for EA making more money on its games, but it didn't make any industry impact outside of that.

Now we have all of the major publishers with their own launchers in varying degrees of competence (Bethesda's launcher is somehow the worst I've ever used, but it looks cool and is responsive!). There is no real competition to Steam (I try to buy single player things on GoG if they're available there, and I know some others do, but it's likely nothing the market notices). Epic appears to be doing the only thing that has a chance of breaking the status quo and in turn the Steam monopoly. I don't think what they're doing is something to be celebrated, but a simple fact of business.

My personal stance is shaped by the fact that I am not a fan of any billion dollar business as I'm very aware they just want every dollar they can get. I don't see a difference between Epic and Valve as they're both shitty faceless billion dollar companies just trying to take every dime. I also don't care about the vast majority of the platform features as my priority is playing games. So for me it really doesn't matter which platform a game is on if I want to play it I'll buy it.

To me AAA companies taking the exclusivity deals is far more scummy than indie devs as they're proving the cynical "every dime they can get" to be correct. I did end up getting Borderlands 3, but the only reason that happened is that GMG had a sale that actually applied to it so it was discounted.

If someone doesn't want to buy through Epic because of features etc more power to them. If the reason is the anti-competitive nature of what they're doing, while true, all you're doing is perpetuating a private monopoly which has never been good in the history of humanity. There are no good guys here just warring billion dollar companies that want all the money and I hope people remember that.

chickenboo wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 13:34:
If you bought a Nintendo Switch because the game you're anticipating says it's releasing on your device, only suddenly Sony swoops in and makes the game exclusive to PS4, you'd be just as upset! Then there's the Kickstarter projects...

Yeah, Epic's strategy "makes sense", but that doesn't mean I can't disagree with their approach. This whole blog comment comes across as one big strawman.

If someone spent money to buy a platform and then there was a switch to another platform they'd have to buy they'd have a very good reason to be upset. Using one free to access store over another is hardly the same thing. You've managed to define strawman.
 
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13. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 14:09 J
 
Flashing money about and buying up friends, saying "Join our fancy club. We have money and friends!" sounds like something a rich teenager might do.

If you want to compete, try putting something out there which is better than what's currently being offered. That's impressive. That encourages competition.
 
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12. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 13:34 chickenboo
 
Americans really love their market competition dogma. Steam may be a monopoly, but it also has the richest features. Regular sales. Stands up for gamers by improving Linux gaming performance. All sorts of things!

On the face of it there's nothing "wrong" with Epic coming out with a store. We already have plenty of stores for selling games from specific companies. What I do have a problem with is offering dollars to a developer/publisher to have them sell exclusively on EGS when the game was previously promised a release on Steam. If you bought a Nintendo Switch because the game you're anticipating says it's releasing on your device, only suddenly Sony swoops in and makes the game exclusive to PS4, you'd be just as upset! Then there's the Kickstarter projects...

Yeah, Epic's strategy "makes sense", but that doesn't mean I can't disagree with their approach. This whole blog comment comes across as one big strawman.
 
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11. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 13:05  Primalchrome 
 
Slashman wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 12:44:
Yeah no. They have done quite a bit that is dishonorable. That it isn't illegal is enough for you. That's fine. You are entitled to your opinion.
I'm not sure that I would say that Epic has done anything dishonorable. The Devs/Publishers that have renegged on promises are the only 'dishonorable' parties. Epic is just trying to float their entry into the market with Fortnite cash.....which if you truly believe in capitalism or are a Republican....is 100% righteous and what they should be doing. The consumer does not matter...all that matters is corporate profitability. (not throwing shade, it is well established that capitalism=US right, consumer rights=euro socialist left)

Me, I think it's poor consumer relations and a substandard product not worth my time. Spending money there is rewarding said behavior and lowering the expectations of quality for the market as a whole...in exchange for shiny and circuses. I'll stick with GoG and Steam for 90% of my purchases because they deliver the products, service, and experience that I seek. Hopefully Galaxy 2.0 simplifies everything even more.
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 12:58 Acleacius
 
Epic are ‘doing a steam’ to steam, and they are doing it for two reasons, both of which I think are sensible

I agreed up till you went all batshit cray cray [unless I misunderstand you], with that Bait and Switch Bullshit there, Cliffski.

First place Steam didn't Bribe pubs and devs to sell 'Only to Steam'. Pubs and Devs found out on their own how powerful Steam was as an outlet for 'Huge' sales. This has never been about competition, anytime someone says "competition" that's when the bullshit starts. This is about the irreparable harm caused by making it common or at the very least ok to bribe publishers and developers. Just because some billionare needs a tax write off or launder/dump millions of dollars.

Secondly it undermines one of the greatest achievements in game development, crowfunding. Almost singlehandedly brought back 3D Isometric RPGs, because corporate assholes like sweeney sure the hell were not helping make them.

There's your two points bettered in everyway, unless you were just writing a fluff piece?
 
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9. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 12:44 Slashman
 
RedEye9 wrote on Aug 7, 2019, 11:41:
things worth repeating

To be clear, this is not Cliff Bleszinski.

Competition is Good

EGS has done nothing illegal, fattening, immoral, life-threatening, industry damaging or otherwise dishonorable.

that is all

Yeah no. They have done quite a bit that is dishonorable. That it isn't illegal is enough for you. That's fine. You are entitled to your opinion.
 
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8. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 12:40  Darks 
 
Watch this video about Mechwarrior 5 and the Bullshit that Epic puled and how the dev of MW5 screwed over the pre-orders and pulled a fast switch on their web page FAQ days before the pre-orders completed. This is the bullshit we are facing and why I will never support EGS.

https://youtu.be/rp_eocF-Dqc
 
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7. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 12:24 Red886
 
first sentence of the blog should have been :

"I am writing this from the perspective of game investors whom want to maximize their returns"

does it benefit consumers? nayyyyyyyyy

 
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6. Re: Op Ed Aug 7, 2019, 11:47 Verno
 
"Keeps Steam competitive" is kind of amusing because Steam is much more feature complete and already competitive which is why its so dominant in the marketplace. It's not like they ever rested on their laurels when it comes to the client, its been continuously developed if you look at its history.

If "keeps steam competitive" means they start buying up exclusives like EGS then I don't really see how that's good for me but whatever, logic has apparently left the building. Things that people here roundly criticized in the console world are suddenly rationalized as OK. Same thing with trickle down economic nonsense. It would be kind of hilarious to see the mental gymnastics done by a few people here if Valve suddenly started offering third parties a bunch of exclusive money.

Here's what makes sense - EGS provides a good platform for its customers and developers. A feature rich environment with competitive prices. What doesn't make sense - pretending they can keep buying up properties for eternity until Valve is out of business.
 



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