It's now much easier for game studios to release their work on the Epic Games Store. Epic has introduced long-awaited self-publishing tools that let anyone release games through its storefront. They'll have to pay $100 per title and meet certain requirements (more on those in a moment), but they won't have to contend with the hand-curated selection of before.
Self-published games can't have discriminatory content, porn or illegal material. Titles with online play have to support crossplay across all PC stores, and they must include Epic Games Store achievements if there are achievements in other PC stores. Releases also have to meet a baseline quality level that matches the description customers see, and they'll need (free) age ratings in countries where they're required.
As with the Epic Games Store's usual practices, the main draw is the higher cut of revenue. Epic takes a relatively modest 12 percent cut where its main rival, Steam, can take up to 30 percent depending on sales figures. The company also doesn't demand a portion of in-app purchases if they're made using a non-Epic payment system. While it's potentially more lucrative for most developers, it's particularly beneficial for small studios that may want to reach a large audience without giving up a large chunk of their revenue.
The self-publish mechanism has taken a long tim to reach this point. Epic first started beta-testing the feature in August 2021 ahead of an expected 2022 debut. The delay is because "developing software is hard," CEO Tim Sweeney tells The Verge.
Whether or not developers flock to the Epic Games Store as a result isn't certain. While Epic notes that its shop has over 230 million total users, Steam had 69 million daily active users in 2021. It remains the largest multi-developer game portal on computers. Epic's requirements are also more stringent than Valve's, which only really forbid illegal content and "trolling" attempts. All the same, this dramatically lowers the barriers to reaching Epic's store — you may see a surge in its catalog before long.