Valve just can’t catch a break, can they? First Artifact fails to truly capture the audience and now Epic throws the gauntlet of challenge and announces their own digital store.

Fortnite

Yes that’s right, the people behind Unreal Engine and perhaps more importantly, the phenomenon that captured souls and wallets of 9-year olds everywhere, Fortnite, are going to open their own digital storefront, aptly named Epic Games Store. The timing of this announcement is hardly coincidental, Valve’s iron grip of the virtual monopoly has been slipping with GoG growing in popularity and Discord starting its own service.

Epic announced that the store will be open for a limited section of games at first, which is honestly heartwarming after Steam’s Greenlight program, now evolved into its final form, Steam direct (whose types are Toxic and Bug, presumably). Currently there is no official process through which you’re supposed to get there and Epic hand-pics games themselves, but this will change to more open environment once the store picks up steam. Epic promised to not curate entries based on the creator’s artistic vision.

Which is a shame, because Epic promises to only take 12% revenue cut from game sales, which much more enticing than Steam’s 30%. Indie developers especially should be very interested in this proposition. Moreover the store offers a very generous refund policy with 14 days time to return the product, sight unseen. No word so far about sexual and/or violent content, but I’ll assume that, in line with the prudish weirdness of global capitalism, the latter is in, the former is out. Also, DRM is on opt-in basis, which surely will be very interesting to some.

A little bit sadder is the way in which Epic plans on tackling toxic behavior in discussions on their site, which is to say, not tackle it at all by just not hosting an ability to discuss things. A little disheartening, but a damn step-up from Steam’s policy of doing as little as possible.

So where does all that leave us? With a store that can hopefully compete with Steam, at least in the long run. While Steam continues to serve its purpose, the market stagnation has been a nuisance for all of us for a long, long time. Truth be told, it would only benefit all of us more to have multiple competing digital stores.

While no date has been specified, Epic firmly states the launch for this year, which is interesting. You guys only have 25 days left then. I hope this doesn’t mean it will launch completely out of nowhere with no build-up because that’s sure to impact the initial reception. I kind of want this thing to succeed.

Godspeed Epic Games.