There is often much debate over Epic Games, especially when so many people are used to Steam. But is Epic any good? Are the fears justified about the launcher? That is one of the things that I want to talk about in this post of my EPIC Games Review so let’s take a good look shall we.
What is the Epic Games Launcher
The Epic Games Launcher is a digital store front and games launcher that has become a competitor to the more widely known and liked Steam.
They have said “When you buy a game on the Epic Games Store, 88% of the price goes directly to developers, versus only 70% on many other stores. This helps developers invest into building bigger and better games.”
It was launched in 2018 and is most well known for the game Fortnite, which is it’s own Free to Play game. Although there are users and even some fans of Epic, there has been some backlash to Epic due to fans of Steam and practices that Epic has chosen to do. Which we will go into greater depth soon.
They operate for both PC and Mac.
We all love free games and Epic Games seems to understand this.
Each week in 2020 is to have a different free game up for grabs.
These games are also not just old or unknown games however. Grand Theft Auto V has featured on their free for a week (a game that is still £24.99 on Epic and steam) as well as Remnant From the Ashes (£30.99), a 2019 game similar to Dark Souls.
There is another way that they give games away as well. Free on release for 24 hours! They have recently done this with Total War Troy, a game which is £34.99 at launch (well after it was free for 24 hours!). As anyone who knows me will tell you I really enjoy my Total War games and I have all of the previous titles. So I was a little bit thrown when the next game would be exclusive to Epic for a year, but more on that topic later.
Like all things internet there have been some issues faced by the Epic Games Launcher.
Back in February 2020 a new LokiBot trojan malware virus was launched to try and ride on the success Epic Games was having with Fortnite.
They impersonated the EPIC Games launcher and are after any sensitive information that they can gather from the computer. The method they use as well makes it difficult for anti-virus and anti-malware programs to detect.
It seems that this threat has been largely dealt with. It doesn’t hurt to be careful however.
All things computer based are at risk from hackers, whether it successful or not. The Epic Games store, and in turn the majority of people’s accounts has not yet been successfully hacked. However, people’s individual accounts have been hacked via Epic’s game Fortnite. This is usually done via a process called phishing, where a user is tricked into providing their own details, expecting to gain gear or V-bucks for the game.
The prevention of this is easy. Don’t trust your account details to any other site unless it has been officially backed.
There was however also an error with the log-in during 2019 that allowed hackers access to several accounts. Although it isn’t clear how many were effected by this.
Fears & Reasons people often dislike Epic Games
There is much distrust and even hatred aimed at Epic for a range of different reasons.
A Chinese based company, Tencent, invested heavily into the Epic Games company gaining a 40% stake of Epic. But this has caused many people that are fearful or mistrustful of China and/or Chinese based companies to be weary of Epic Games.
This is something that has been ongoing since at least 2018 with the launch of the Epic Games launcher. With Epic being accused of selling personal information to China or spying on people for China.
However Epic has stated that Tencent has zero input into what they do and that none of the investors or partners can dictate decisions done by Epic.
This seems to be largely fear and an anti-Chinese sentiment that has been growing over the last several years.
As Epic is free to download those with the knowledge can look into the codes and programs of how it operates on a computer.
Some commented on a couple of worrying points. A tracking.js file and a local copy of steam files, made without the users permission.
The tracking.js file has been explained as being a feature of Unreal Engine for years. It’s data used to help track revenue-sharing to pay assets and content creators. So in other words something to make sure everyone gets the money they deserve for their creations.
The local copy of the steam files however was something that also fed into the Chinese argument of them stealing personal information or spying on you. It has been something that Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has apologized for on the Reddit forum discussing it! He had stated that it was a leftover remnant to implement social features in the early days of Fortnite and it was his fault for rushing the team. But that they would fix this issue.
Sweeney even thanked the community for finding it so that they could know and do something about it.
There are already several different launchers out there.
Some of these are big company owned like EA’s Origin, Blizzard’s Battle.net and Ubisoft’s Uplay. Most of these acted as a hub for their own niche market of customers and games.
The most know and used is of course Value’s Steam, which allowed other companies to use their platform to sell their games, though you would also then need to make an account on those launchers as well to play.
There is a fear or one might call it an annoyance that this is the way companies are going to continue. Chopping up online game platforms into certain companies with different games, communities, rules and such. For some people it isn’t going to be much an issue, for others of course it just becomes another annoyance of which email, username and password was it for this launcher again.
Especially since many are just price matching and are not passing on benefits or many bargains to the customers.
Nearly all platforms offer exclusives and many fans are even proud of their platforms exclusives, Playstation fans anyone?
However Epic Games is quite disliked for it’s practice of exclusives.
This can mainly be drawn down to one game that really brought it into full attention. Metro Exodus. The third game of the Metro series which has quite a large fan base.
Originally the game was going to be launched on Valve’s Steam launcher. Many fans had already pre-ordered via steam as well. Then two weeks before the release date it was announced that it would be a Epic Games exclusive. Pre-orders were still honoured but as you can imagine or remember fans were not happy at all.
Valve also threw itself into the argument stating that Metro Exodus’s company, Deep Silver, business choice was “unfair” and that Epic had mistreated Valve’s customers by taking the game that close to it’s launch. Epic apologized later stating that they had made a mistake in this instance and that they knew they would upset some fans but not as many as they did.
Metro Exodus is now on both Steam and Epic for the same price but there are many complaints that known bugs were never fixed in the year the game had been released on Epic.
However Borderlands 3 had something similar happen, but consumers were given a lot more notice unlike with Metro Exodus.
The majority of the exclusives will only be so for a period of One Year, with the other launchers gaining them again after that. This however does cut into the release rush for a game.
There is a reason why many companies are picking to do an Epic Games exclusive. Epic only takes a 12% cut of the revenue, Valve takes a 30% cut. Also if the game uses Unreal Engine then the 5% licencing fee is waived. This makes it very attractive for companies to pick Epic Games. This does also anger many gamers and fans of series or upcoming games that putting a game into Epic is not for their best interests but is purely a business reason in which to make more money.
This is also something that isn’t passed onto the consumers. The game will not have any reduction in price or benefit to the consumers for having it change platform.
Another reason is that Epic Games will often pay a minimum sales guarantee to companies to make it worth the risk of moving to Epic. Phoenix Point was one of these games. A community manager told that “If we had to refund 100% of currently pre-orders, we’d still be in the black.“
Personally speaking this Exclusiveness has only effected me a couple of times. The first was with Phoenix Point and the second was with Maneater. Maneater being the one I was more excited for! You get to play as a man eating shark and upgrade yourself into something much more powerful! It kinda reminds me of some my old favourite games in style and humour as Stubbs the Zombie and Destroy all Humans! I had quite a few games to finish at this point though so wasn’t too bothered by it. The second was with Total War Troy, Total War games being one of my favourite games series. However as mentioned above they are offered it FREE for the first 24 hours.
Epic Games only launched in 2018 and as such has a lot fewer features than those like Steam. Some of those included with Steam but not on Epic include:
- Allowing users to review games and share reviews on platform (This is actually a big issue to many)
- Dedicated forums on platform for games
- Easy sharing and using of mods
- Saving games remotely, and automatically, in the cloud
- Storing multiple user profiles that can be mapped to different games
- Share accounts and owned games with family
- Stream games to other devices
Many features are in fact planned to being brought to Epic Games launcher and you can even follow their progress. However many people are not interesting in waiting, especially when another already supplies what they expect.
When you combined this with the exclusives then you have one of the main reasons people do not like to use Epic Games. Being forced to get a game, often not cheaper than elsewhere, via a deal that two companies have made with each other on a launcher that offers less to the consumer than the other launchers out there like steam.
Although this is one that has changed however like most bad history or news many people will think of the stories of issues with refunds.
The old policy of refunds was to contact Epic Support and provide a lot of highly detailed information before a refund was even considered. That has now changed to a more automated one similar to Steams one.
As such you can refund a game within 14 days and if you have played for less than 2 hours.
For the longest time I didn’t actually care about the Epic Games Launcher.
Fortnite held no appeal to me since I do not really enjoy multiplayer. I have used Steam, Origin and Uplay, but my main use was Steam. Origin and Uplay were kinda forced on me to play certain games I had bought to play on Steam.
As I mentioned there had only really been a couple of times exclusive games effected me but didn’t think too much on it. Especially since I have a back log of games to play!
It was when Total War Troy was announced to be launching on Epic Games and would be free for 24 hours that made me download and try Epic Games for myself.
I have since been helping myself to the freebies as I had done on Origin when they have done free games.
Personally I find that it is very basic and doesn’t have as much verity that I have enjoyed with Steam. Especially being able to read reviews. It is still an alright platform and have not had any issues navigating it. Plus it has been launching plenty of free games to grab and try out.
There are promises of improving and adding more features but as they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Though to many I think Steam will remain to be seen as Rome and Epic as the Huns.