Epic Games has announced it's publishing two games from independent studios--a new "non-violent" massively multiplayer game from Spry Fox, and the untitled cosmic horror game being developed by Cory Davis and Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck's studio Eyes Out.
Davis and Finck previously received and EpicMegaGrant to develop an early version of their game in 2019, and apparently drew Epic's interest in funding a further prototype. Davis told Game Developer that Epic's support helped Eyes Out's game come to fruition, and that its patient support was something unique in the way publishers interact with developers. "What stands out to me the most is the time we were given to express our early ideas, let them marinate, and refine them - within a positive, encouraging, and enlightening environment," Davis told Game Developer.
Spryfox creative director Daniel Cook that Epic's support with business management and marketing makes it easier for the company to focus on developing unique, genre-defining experiences. Cook noted that the shifts in the digital distribution market (at one point described as "the Indiepocalypse") have required companies like Spry Fox to construct and seek out support structures that make it possible for them to make compelling games while remaining in scope.
Cook implied that Spry Fox had been through conversations with multiple independent games publishers, and that Epic proved to the publisher most interested in letting Spry Fox retain ownership of their intellectual property, and being amenable to their production process for making games. "Those aren't necessarily a given in a publisher-developer relationship," he pointed out.
Davis likewise praised Epic for allowing Eyes Out to retain ownership over its IP, and described it as an example other publishers should be following. As he explained, "developers are starting to get more opportunities to realize their diverse visions and perspectives and to keep control of their IPs for the future."
Epic Games head of publishing Hector Sanchez said that Epic is in "a unique position to understand and empathize with our partners on the twists and turns the development process can often take."
For other developers curious about what Epic can offer in a publishing agreement, Sanchez explained the team is looking to evolve beyond the typical trifecta of Marketing, QA, and business development support you usually get.
As Sanchez puts it, Epic wants "clear the minefield" for developers so they aren't working "needlessly or aimlessly."
It'll be interesting to see if Epic's push into publishing is sufficient at improving deals for other developers at other indie publishers--or if this adds meaningful heft to the Epic Games Store's market share.