In 2019 the PC gaming ecosystem was shaken up in a big way by the debut of the Epic Game Store, but the non-stop parade of exclusivity announcements and controversy died down somewhat in 2020. So, how well did the Epic Game Store do in its sophomore year? Well, Epic has released their 2020 year in review, and the results are somewhat mixed.
On the plus side, more people are playing games via the Epic Games Store and its launcher than ever – in 2020 the total number of EGS customers grew to over 160 million, from 100 million at the end of 2019, and monthly active users nearly doubled to 56 million from 32 million. That may sound good, but despite the EGS library significantly increasing, spending on third-party games has increased only slightly to $265 million, from $251 million in 2019.
Basically, a lot of people are playing games acquired through the Epic Games Store, but not a lot of people are actually buying them. Epic gave away 103 different games in 2020, which were downloaded a whopping 749 million times. It seems likely those giveaways are the source of the increase in EGS monthly users. Giving away free games is a good way to bring people in, but it’s not a great long-term strategy, so what’s next for the Epic Game Store? Well, it sounds like the plan is to make EGS a lot more like Steam by making it easier to publish games on the store, thus increasing its catalog…
We're making strides to offer more titles on the store by onboarding more developers and introducing their titles to the Epic Games ecosystem. The Epic Games Store grew from 190 games in 2019 to 471 in 2020. In 2021, we’re going to rapidly expand the catalog of new titles available on EGS even further by providing developers with self-publishing tools for the EGS Platform and we’ll be releasing details on those specific plans soon.
It’s a strategy that worked for Steam, but then again…do we need another Steam? I thought one of the appeals of the Epic Games Store was that it was supposed to be more curated than Valve’s free for all? What do you think? Is the right direction for Epic to take?