The developer of horror-filled puzzle game Darq turned down an Epic Games Store exclusivity deal, he revealed this week, and has called on Epic to allow indie games to sell simultaneously on the store and via Steam.
Epic contacted Wlad Marhulets, the solo developer behind Unfold Games, three days after he had revealed Darq’s Steam release date. “On July 30 I was contacted by the Epic Store, proposing that I enter into an exclusivity agreement with them instead of releasing Darq on Steam,” he said in a Medium blog post. “They made it clear that releasing Darq non-exclusively is not an option. I rejected their offer before we had a chance to talk about money.”
Darq came out on Steam this week, and Marhulets said he’ll “probably” make less money selling through Steam than he would if he had accepted Epic’s deal, which included a minimum revenue guarantee. The idea of “getting some upfront payment on top of guaranteed revenue sounds great”, but he didn’t want to break a promise to players who expected to buy the game on Steam, he said.
“Turning down the Epic exclusivity offer might have been a foolish decision in the short term, considering the amount of money that might have been involved. When thinking long term, however, this was an easy and obvious decision to make (in my case).
“Pulling the game off Steam a few days after Steam release date announcement would forever ruin the credibility of my studio. I would like for my customers to have confidence that my word means something, especially when making announcement as crucial as release date/platform.”
He wanted to give players as many options as possible, he said: he’s also selling the game through GOG, for example. “I wish the Epic Store would allow indie games to be sold there non-exclusively, as they do with larger, still unreleased games (Cyberpunk 2077), so players can enjoy what they want: a choice.”
Marhulets stressed that “he’s not speaking on behalf of other developers”, and that for some studios accepting an Epic exclusivity deal might be the best plan long-term. “Every indie studio has a unique story and has to deal with a unique set of obstacles. The reasons are mine and mine only. Rejecting such offer happened to be right for my game, but might not be right for other games/studios, as their goals and long-term plans might differ from mine.”
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney commented on the case on Twitter after Mark Kern, team lead for vanilla World of Warcraft, said it was “not right” for Epic to disqualify Darq from the Epic Games Store just because they turned down an exclusivity offer.
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