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Epic Games "Wholeheartedly" Supports Key Sales, But Not For Exclusives

Epic Games Store may soon be selling keys, so long as it isn't for one of the many EGS exclusive titles like Ubisoft's The Division 2.

March 17, 2019

Epic Games Store has certainly ruffled feathers in the dedicated PC gaming community. Given they are a newcomer to the market, their business decisions are under continual scrutiny from an already scrutinizing audience. And after some confusion surrounding Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has clarified a point — they will support third-party key sales for their platform… so long as the game is not an Epic Games Store exclusive.

To offer a quick backdrop, in the pre-launch of The Division 2 there was a fair share of confusion as third-party keysellers began warning that the product would be pulled soon. Stores like Green Man Gaming or Gamesplanet began putting up notices that The Division 2 would only be “available through Ubisoft’s Store and another exclusive digital store.”

While this is likely a deft business decision for both Ubisoft and Epic Games (who has exclusivity for the title outside of Uplay) as they maximize both profit and branding, both consumers and retailers are not overly thrilled. Retailers have been more explicit, saying in statements that they “are not happy about this decision“; meanwhile many consumers like to purchase from third-party sellers get good deals, support policies (specifically anti-DRM), or donate to charity.

In response to some back-and-forth questions with Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney, a Twitter user asked about this decision. According to Sweeney, the team “wholeheartedly [supports] key sales for non-exclusive games”:

Sweeney did not explore the policy behind that, or why selling Epic Games Store keys on other marketplaces would be an issue. While this may be an Epic Games policy, there is also a chance that this is built-in to the exclusivity agreements.

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On the other hand, Sweeney is well aware that the digital marketplace wars aren’t perfect for consumers, and that an end-goal should be a “100% open digital commerce ecosysytem giving developers an even better deal than 88%.” But according to Sweeney, the only way we can reach that point is by offering competition to those who control the industry marketshare:

For what it’s worth, it does appear that competition is making Steam re-evaluate policies, debatably for the better. This includes an overhaul of the review system which no longer includes scores from review bombing as well as a promise to accept 100% uncensored games.

If you haven’t picked up the game yet, The Division 2 is available now on PC (via Uplay and Epic Games Store), PS4, and Xbox One; anyone looking to grab the game can get it via Amazon. Give your thoughts of the business decision in the comments below.

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Lou Contaldi

Lou Contaldi specializes in both reviews and the business behind gaming. He began writing about tech and video games while getting his Juris Doctor at Hofstra University School of Law. He is maybe the only gaming journo based in Nashville, TN.

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