Discord: Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.
Life comes at you fast, so we’ll run through the salient points quickly.
First, Valve – seemingly spooked by something – improves the revenue share on the Steam store (but only for the biggest earners, over $10m). The base Steam revenue split is the same old 70:30, while the $10m club getting a 75:25 split, and anyone who earns over $50m taking home 80% of their takings.
Then, we get a look at what unnerved Valve: Epic is launching its own digital storefront. There’s a soft launch of sorts – we think it might have jumped the gun on the announcement – followed by a proper introduction. Epic is offering an 88:12 revenue split and will waive any Unreal Engine licence fees. This effectively makes it 23% better than releasing an Unreal Engine game on Steam (if you don’t qualify for one of Valve’s tax breaks for the rich and famous).
Developers are, for the most part, pleased by this turn of events, inspired by both the increased revenue share and a reduction in faith in Valve’s offering. But it’s not developers that Epic needs to convince. There’s a scary amount of tribalism and loyalty to corporations in the gaming world, and Epic will be hoping that their pre-existing Fortnite user base will bring customers to buy other games.
Epic isn’t the only store in town. There are, of course, other stores like Itch.io, the Humble Store, and various others to choose from. One of the more unusual offerings seemed to be from Discord, the communication and chat service that added the option to buy games, and now Discord is getting into the price war with a 90:10 developer split.
“So, we asked ourselves a few more questions. Why does it cost 30% to distribute games? Is this the only reason developers are building their own stores and launchers to distribute games? Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018. After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share.” – Discord
The benefit that Discord brings to the table, in addition to that 90% revenue for developers, is that it has a PC subscriber base of over 200m users. That’s already a huge number of people who use the platform, and might go some way to offset the convenience argument that Steam’s loyal users cling to.
Games sold via Discord have, thus far, been limited. The plan now is to open up the Discord store, and it’s 90% revenue share, to any developer who wants in, starting in 2019.
So the latest bid for developer attention is 90%. Do we have any advance on 90%?