So MechWarrior 5 might become the next Epic Games Store exclusive title. Maybe.
Before anyone starts shouting, there has been no official confirmation from either Epic or PGI (the makers of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and MechWarrior Online). What we have is some troubling changes to the MechWarrior 5 website and PGI President Russ Bullock saying they’re just due to a harmless website update.
First, a shout out to Reddit user Ironshards for making the original post, as well as user Vektorweg for making a comparison between the old MechWarrior 5 FAQ page and the new one.
One thing that you’ll immediately notice is that the new MW5 FAQ is much smaller than the old one. You’ll also notice that there is no longer any mention of getting a Steam key from pre-orders that recently wrapped up and that any mention of Steam has in fact been totally removed. The pre-order beta has also been removed.
Getting rid of the pre-order info makes sense since you can’t pre-order MechWarrior 5 any longer (although they might have another pre-order closer to release). But removing all mention of Steam–ostensibly the platform that the game will release on–seems a little strange. Suspicious even.
In case you’re not up on the latest brawl to hit the digital gaming market, Epic Games is the maker of Fortnite (that battle royale game you see the kids playing these days), Unreal Engine 4 (which is the same game engine that MW5 uses–more on that later), and also a brand new digital storefront called the Epic Games Store.
The Epic Games Store works just like every other digital storefront, but with a big incentive for game developers. Rather than the customary 70/30 revenue split, Epic gives studios more of the gaming pie to the tune of 88/12 (that’s 88% revenue to the developer, in case that wasn’t clear). All of this is done under the guise of breaking the virtual monopoly that Steam holds on the PC gaming market.
However, the Epic Games Store doesn’t have anywhere near the same features as Steam, GOG, Discord, or other game stores have. They don’t have cloud save file storage, user reviews, wish lists, news feeds, or bundled prices that reflect already-installed DLC. They also don’t have multi-language support or support for payment in any currency other than US dollars.
To be fair to Epic, they plan to implement all these features within the next 6 months, but when it launched, the Epic Games Store was a barren wasteland compared to Steam.
So to get people onto their store, Epic has adopted an aggressive strategy of gobbling up PC games as exclusive titles. They also don’t care if that game promised its Kickstarter backers or pre-order buyers a release on Steam. Just look at the debacles of Shenmue III and Metro Exodus for proof if this.
Here’s where I’m going to diverge from the facts for a second to insert some personal opinion, which I mention specifically because this is a very heated topic with a lot of misinformation floating around.
It seems clear to me that Epic’s plan is to replace Steam as the de-facto PC gaming platform. Steam makes TONS of money–enough that Valve hasn’t really released a real game in years (Artifact doesn’t count)–and Epic wants that bank all to themselves.
But to get it, Epic is spending a ludicrous amount of cash essentially guaranteeing the developer a reasonable amount of sales. This is based off a tweet from June whereby a Korean games community discussed how SNK was offered “hundreds of thousands” of pre-orders for Samurai Showdown to become an exclusive title.
The only games store looking for exclusive titles is Epic, so put two-and-two together and you get Epic’s gameplan.
Initially, there were some unsavory rumors that Epic was full of spyware and was actually a front for the Chinese government. So far, that’s all turned out to be bunk, but there was an element of truth to it. Epic is 40% owned by Tencent, a huge Chinese entertainment and media company, and I think it’s Tencent that is funding Epic with gobs of cash to throw at any and every game they can turn into an exclusive title all with the intention of eventually becoming the big kahuna of PC gaming.
Anyway, opinion over, and now back to speculating on MechWarrior 5.
We already knew from last month that PGI was hurting for cash. New ‘Mech Packs being sold in MechWarrior Online had stopped being profitable, and Bullock basically admitted that the studio was going all-in on MechWarrior 5. If the game flopped, then PGI would be in serious trouble financially, to the point where the likeliest outcome would be the cessation of operations.
But if MechWarrior 5 went Epic Games Store exclusive and PGI got a cash infusion from Epic, they wouldn’t have to worry. Epic guarantees their sales to the point where they could at least continue as a business. On top of that, MechWarrior 5 already uses the Unreal 4 engine, making even more sense for an exclusive deal.
If this all turns out to be true, I can’t blame PGI for taking the money. Games development is a risky business and most studios are one bad game from going bankrupt. That said, they promised a Steam release with their pre-order, and judging by the MechWarrior subreddit, people would be mighty upset if MechWarrior 5 were to suddenly become an Epic exclusive.
Twitch Streamer Nuttyrat asked Bullock on Twitter about the changes in MechWarrior 5’s FAQ, with Bullock responding that they’re just the result of the community pre-order being over so there’s no need to have information about it on the site.
Well now you can let them know it’s just the site update incoming – no need to have preorder bits in the FAQ
— Russ Bullock (@russ_bullock) July 16, 2019
But again, it seems odd to remove all mention of Steam at the same time as removing the pre-order info.
Personally, I don’t have nearly as much hate for Epic as a lot of rabid Steam fans do, and if Epic is able to eventually provide the same sort of services that Steam does I’d have no problem with switching sides. However, the use of exclusives to get users is pretty anti-competitive and puts a sour taste on things, especially when those games already promised to release on Steam and other platforms.
We won’t know for sure one way or another until Russ or PGI make an announcement. Which will probably come at the upcoming MechWarrior 5 Developer Update and AMA scheduled for this Friday at 6 PM PST (UPDATE: Looks like the AMA was delayed to next week, according to MW5’s most recent tweet).
And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
Pretty funny since I can’t stand Steam.
I’m not a fan of Steam either. But I’m not sure what the big deal is, it’s a PC you can have multiple platforms. I often wondered what the % distribution of users is between Steam and non-Steam. I see these numbers popup by all of the half-empty negative Nelly basement dwellers out there doing everything they can to cut on PGI and the game, but apparently those are Steam numbers. And based on what I have observed (not very scientific at all) is that most appears to be non-Steam users. But like I said below. I don’t care if the cash infusion keeps MW up and working – that’s awesome for everyone. Now you have TWO platforms for games…
I’m a just say no to DRM guy so while I hold no particular antipathy for Steam I also haven’t bought any Steam games since 2012, didn’t preorder MW5 for this reason, and have been watching the Steam vs. EGS war with no small share of amusement. Yes, Epic is being arrogant and pushy, but what they’re doing to Steam and its fanboys is not much different than what Steam and its fanboys did to various developers and customers who weren’t keen on giving up offline functionality, first-sale doctrine, etc. Pot meets kettle, and popcorn comes billowing out of both of them.
I’ve been expecting that such a deal will eventually happen. Piranha needs money, Epic wants to buy market share, and Bullock is the sort of guy who’s gonna do whatever he wants to do. Hopefully if they go this route they offer refunds to anyone who preordered expecting a Steam key; that’s what the Phoenix Point developer did.
Hey! I’m the Ironshards that made the original post. Glad to see this spreading, the community deserves to be aware of what’s going on and that was my intention for making the post when I did. Thanks for the shoutout!
I don’t care what platform it’s on because the game itself is all I want. The steam store doesn’t add 15% more value for me and I wouldn’t blame PGI for taking any good deal as long as it makes some future MW5 content.
First this is a nicely written article. And I Agree 100%. I’m not a big fan of Steam….But bottom line I don’t care and if Epic partnership keeps the ship afloat that’s even better for MW fans. I really only play one game that I like and it’ MW. I play a little Battletech but that’s my fall back…. MW is all I have ever really played. I love it.
the old MechWarrior 5 FAQ page goes borderlands 3 page
Sorry! I dunno how that website got mixed in there. Fixed it now!
CRY PC FANOYS! CRY TEARS OF DESPAIR FOR ME!
*cough cough* I am mostly a console pleb cause my computers are Macs… so meh
Even if PGI goes Epic “exclusive”, there’s NO WAY it’ll be limited to just the EGS alone. I say this because of who the digital IP rights holder is, Microsoft. Who also has a store. And I think they’ve pulled some games to that store that were announced as EGS only. It may not end up on Steam and GOG in this case, MSS has a good case to make sure it’s in their newest Win10 games platform as well.
The deal that most small developers are getting is one year of exclusivity on PC in return for guaranteed revenue and/or outright giving them a big pile of money upfront, so that’s what I would expect PGI to get if they go with Epic. No way to know what they’d do when the clock runs out, but it’s unlikely that the IP licensing agreement says anything about distribution.
That’s just for PC though, so if someone is also doing an Xbox release they can cut whatever deal they want to with Microsoft.
One funny thing, is that the pre-orders for steam were sold through PGI’s own website so they would get 100% of the revenue (as devs/publishers can generate their own steam keys to sell off of steam and they get 100% of the profit). So those preorders would get 100% profit while going to Epic would cause them to only get 88%…
I will be seriously pissed if this goes the epic exclusive route. I preordered the game twice and it being on steam was a big part of that second preorder (for various reasons). I would be looking for a full refund on both as it would essentially be lies. I’ve been a huge supporter of MW5 up until now, but I’m not going to support anti-consumer practices. Give me a drm free direct download, or sell it to me on gog or itch or whatever. Hell, microsoft store.
Just don’t make it a bloody exclusive.
I’m not a huge fan of Steam, but the stuff Epic has been doing lately means I intend to never install their platform on my PC. I won’t mind if Mech5 is also available on Epc, hell, I’d prefer a GoG release, but whatever. But making it exclusive to Epic store now? I know I’ll be asking for a refund if it happens. Pissing off the fans when you’re in a market as niche as Mechwarrior/Battletech isn’t a great idea.
If you accessed the PGI Discord or used any part of the MWO rewards you don’t get a refund. Those were in the terms of the pre-order. For me the “You can’t get a refund if you access their Discord to see game development” is a red flag. Also MWO being over all bad as time went on, and PGI being extremely close mouthed about something they are claiming as a main draw (Co-op) this has slipped off my radar.
What truly surprises me about MW5 is the lack of marketing PGI is doing for it. Like the game is supposed to launch in a few months and they haven’t released any new gameplay or cinematic trailers of any kind to keep the game relevant and build up hype. I don’t know Sean but I just have a bad feeling about MW5, especially if it does go Epic exclusive because I too have seen the backlash against games like Metro for going exclusive last minute.
If they are happier (and wealthier) by choosing EPIC as a plattform, i wouldnt blame them for using it.
BUT they offered steam keys to the community preorders, so im hoping its handled like metro, where you would still keep the game on steam if you preordered it, only new ones are limited to the EPIC launcher.
If not, i guess riot. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I’m not a fan of what Epic is doing, and the fact that even small developers are willing to screw their fans for a quick payout and a slightly bigger piece of a pie that’s going to be much smaller due to poor sales makes me distrust video game developers all the more.
I realize they need to keep their lights on, but at the same time, when you make promises and then break those promises at the sight of a wad of cash, it makes you look untrustworthy and selfish. It does not inspire loyalty. MW5 is the game that Battletech fans have been waiting and paying out the nose for, for the better part of eight years. We were all told, by developer and fans alike, that if we didn’t support MWO financially, there probably would never be a MW5.
Well now, after years of monetization and mismanagement we are finally getting it, and then what do we find out? That all that financial support and good might have amounted to nothing.
The only thing that PGI will be guaranteeing with a move to Epic is that MW5 won’t sell very well until the exclusivity deal expires.
And as an addendum, anyone who thinks Tencent doesn’t have ties to the Chinese government doesn’t understand that in China, every company has ties to the government. They are all underwritten by government funding and operate with government oversight. This Forbes article from 2015 makes it very clear.
Now, does that mean that Tencent is necessarily a front for Chinese intelligence gathering? Perhaps not, but would you hand over your personal data to a company that operates under a government who has repeatedly shown to have zero scruples when it comes to data theft?
Frankly, no video game is worth that sort of compromise, at least to me. I don’t attach such value to playing a game right at release that I won’t wait for a more advantageous time to buy it. I was planning on waiting for reviews and a sale before deciding whether to buy MW5 or not, so a year isn’t a big deal for me to wait.
Unfortunately there going be alot people out there who aren’t going think that way and may-may not pay for it later. There just seeing “GAME”, “WANT TO PLAY” in their minds.
Blank no, i’m doing that. Epic too new, too little to back up something that may not work. I prefer not to have DRM. I may go rout of Humble Bundle, wait for it go sale. I sadly was one of the Pre-paid guys, but that’s what you do.
I want MWO to survive in some form, it in long run helps Battletech to continue on long after dust settles with things.
PGI desperate gamble may backfire big time. You don’t make promises like this without serious blow back of players / customers not trusting the company word.
Who cares about the store when the main question is “Will there be 75% plus discounts?”. I mean, Steam has its regional pricing and seasonal sales, which i’m not sure Epic Store does, and if it does, then on what scale. That’s quite a question when you don’t live in US, y’know.
And forgive my scepticism, but, regarding the marketing for MW5, i think Batletech is already too niche of a franchise to gather any hype across younger audiences, hence the sleeves-down work. Every half-dead fan will know about it anyway, and barely anyone is interested in Battletech except die-hard fans novadays.
Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Anyone who spends any time on the Steam forums, or the various Battletech subreddits knows that the community reaction to MW5 has been pretty tepid, considering this is the game all BT fans have been wanting for the last ten years. Only the diehard fans (ie. the whales that have been keeping MWO afloat for the last couple of years) are the ones who really care about getting it. Everyone else seems to be taking a wait-and-see attitude.
I would blame the shit show and cash grab with the empty promises or outright deceit practiced by PGI where Mechwarrior Online is concerned. MWO *should* have been enough to keep PGI afloat with the people into it. Instead it landed with a thud, and never got it’s feet because of a bad company.
The fact that the pre-order had clauses about not getting a refund *if you joined the official Discord* is a gigantic red flag. If you are that uncertain about your game that you are guaranteeing people don’t have an option to back out if they see it’s going a direction they don’t like, then there is a problem.
There’s been way too much in terms of questionable data security behavior surrounding Epic to make me feel comfortable about giving them my payment details. For instance, causing a GDPR breach while complying with a GDPR information request only just begins to scratch that surface.
Steam has screwed up massively in the past, but at least they learned from their errors and that of others in the market. Epic has yet to do so and that troubles me on many levels.
The rumors are indeed true!
Let the lulz begin!
Now that irt is official can we shout and scream?
I’m not a fan of exclusive deals, as they are harmful for consumers. But Epic Store DOES have support for payments in other currencies. They are even using regional pricing, which is good for countries with weak currencies.
And here we are on the other side of the announcement. Another company sacrificing the agency and security of their customers on the altar of profits lol
From an ethicless and amoral “I’m lookin out for me and noone else” perspective, I see why they’d do it.
However, I am disappointed to see yet another company going the EGS exclusive route and functionally making their game available only at that seedy pawn shop in the tenements where chinese hackers skim your credit card info on your way in and jam a usb of malware up your arse on the way out.
“You get what you pay for” applies, unfortunately in cases like this the fan pays for the devs choice.
I won’t be ordering until it goes to Steam or another reputable game store, though I will hungrily gobble every YT vid and twitch stream until that happens :P