Epic Games Store is only a few years old but has cemented itself as one of the go to sources for many PC gamers. Epic’s digital download platform continued to build momentum in 2021, according to the company’s recent year in review, which revealed that spending on the store rose by 20% to $840 million. Of that total, third-party games accounted for 36% of player spending (up 12% from 2020) – which also underscores how successful both Fortnite and Rocket League continue to be for Epic on the first-party side accounting for the other 64%.
Epic’s strategy to attract users with weekly free games has certainly played a role in the Epic Games Store’s growth. A total of 89 free games led to over 765 million claimed, and 76 free games broke their peak concurrent user records on PC, which speaks to how vital this program has been for sparking engagement. All told, the Epic Games Store increased its base to over 194 million users in 2021, up by 34 million from 2020.
Valve’s Steam, which has been offering downloads for almost two decades, remains the dominant force in game downloads, having reached one billion accounts back in 2019. The imminent launch of Valve’s portable PC gaming machine, Steam Deck, is likely to fuel even more interest in the digital platform, but that is not likely to change Epic’s approach to the market, which is deliberately more developer friendly. Whereas Valve takes a 30% cut of revenues (25% after $10 million in sales is reached), Epic Games Store only takes 12%, which Epic says is still enough to cover “the operating costs of the store and makes us a profit.”
According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, one quarter of PC gamers in the US have downloaded a game from Steam in the past three months. Steam has maintained this market share advantage over the last year while other platforms saw small declines. Even so, Epic Games Store has only been around since December 2018 and is now being used by PC gamers as much as the Windows Store, which speaks to the value proposition from Epic (for both developers and gamers).