Has anyone noticed a trend from major game creators? Certain big name companies are going out of their way to avoid the normal digital distribution routes. Fortnite, on Android, doesn’t go through Google Play. Fallout 76, from Bethesda, is going to avoid Steam. In each situation, the companies are going to tread their own paths. But why is this happening? Also, is this a good thing for us?
With Epic Games, the idea is to avoid the 30% store tax Google Play would charge the company. If Fortnite was on the store, it would owe Google 30% of all sales made. Tim Sweeney, Epic Games’ CEO, already said the company didn’t like that idea. There was also a whole spiel about bringing games directly to customers and having competition with software sources, but that doesn’t seem to hold much water when the company is only offering Fortnite via its launcher.
With Bethesda, there has been an attempt to make it seem like the decision to focus on directly providing Fallout 76 is about connecting with a customer. Steam changes were even cited as a reason. Except, while it is not being said, we have to take into account the 30% situation. If Bethesda lists what will undoubtedly be one of 2018’s most popular games on Steam, then Valve will get a 30% cut of their profits. By eliminating that middleman, they get all of the money they possibly can, all while saying they are doing it to stay connected with customers.
Which is fine, but it leaves us in a tricky situation. There is also the situation of the devil you know, versus the one you don’t. We know what Steam and Google Play are like. We are familiar with their refund policies, which have fairly automated options available to people who act quickly. We don’t really know how companies like Bethesda and Epic Games are going to react to Fallout 76 and Fortnite. It seems bad for us to move from retailers we know to ones we don’t.
It also means we move out of an ecosystem. When we have games connected acquired through Steam or Google Play, we have an easy place to visit. All of our games are in the one launcher, when it comes to Steam. It is easy to pop in and visit. We also have our friends list there, allowing us easy access to potential players. With Google Play, it might be easier to catch updates when you are going to update multiple apps at once. It could make for more work for the players. Also, there is a sense of security that comes from getting an .apk from an official source, rather than another launcher or off of the internet.
Bethesda and Epic Games both are placing themselves in situation where they can maximize profits on what are unquestionably big ticket games. While this might pay off for them, it might not for us. We are left with having to deal with games that aren’t tied to retailers we are familiar with, who have decent refund policies and perhaps even our friends lists stored. We need to journey to a new frontier, unaware of how supportive the actual companies will be. While it could work, it seems like its more about the benefits of the companies than those of the consumers.