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Gearbox CEO: Both devs and players benefit from Epic and Steam competition

"At the end of the day when we look back at this moment, we’ll realize that this was the moment where the digital stores on PC became unmonopolized."

Alissa McAloon, Publisher

April 18, 2019

3 Min Read

“At the end of the day when we look back at this moment we’ll realize that this was the moment where the digital stores on PC became unmonopolized.”

- Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford offers his thoughts on the Epic Games Store.

Gearbox’s Borderlands 3 is one of the latest games announced to be skipping Steam (for a few months) in favor of the Epic Games Store, a decision that studio's CEO discussed on Twitter recently.

His thoughts on the nature of and relationship between Steam and the Epic Games Store were captured in a lengthy Twitter thread and later rounded up into a more readable arrangement on Reddit. It’s a long read, but one that offers a look at the benefits he sees in the Epic Games Store, both in terms the store as its own platform and as an important source of competition for Valve’s long-dominant Steam storefront.

Right off the bat, he does note that the Borderlands 3 exclusivity call was one made by publisher 2K Games rather than Pitchford or Gearbox, “so while I may have some influence, I cannot force anything (and this ship has sailed, so to speak).”

Pitchford notes that he has decades of experience working with the two now-competing companies, and says that there are fundamental differences between the motivations each company has toward its own storefront. In the case of Valve, Pitchford says a lack of competition has enabled the company to reinvest Steam income into other endeavors, rather than the store itself. “They have had no external force sufficient to challenge their revenue share and no external force sufficient to motivate a sufficient reinvestment of revenue.”

Epic, from Pitchford’s point of view, “is differently setup from Valve right now,” partially because Epic is a company with stakeholders he says are very motivated to reinvest in the company versus Valve’s status as a fully private company. (Update: An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to Epic as a public company. This has since been corrected.) “All of those plays are going to be fed by a business that is not taking cash out of their system and putting it into individual’s pockets but towards putting all of their cash back into [their] system,” says Pitchford.

“The competitive store that happens to be the leader in 10 years may not be Epic’s store, but it probably won’t be Valve’s and Epic’s moves right now are opening the door and paving the way for a vibrant competitive economy,” he says later in the thread. “Competition in stores is going to be absolutely best for consumers and probably good for developers and publishers as well. The stores that tend to win are the stores that offer the best to their customers. It’s very difficult for customer interest to be king with one store.”

These comments are only part of his thoughts on the matter. The full thread can be found on Reddit or the full reply thread on Twitter. 

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