Look out Steam and Epic, Discord is looking to make waves with their intimidating 90/10 split for devs!

For as long as I can remember Steam has controlled the distribution platform for video games. The Steam store has become synonymous with PC gaming, and for good reason. While Valve recently adjusted the rates, the Steam store, and others like it, have always taken 30% of every sale. However, this past week Epic proved that it only needed to take a 12% share out of every sale. Now Discord is planning to show Epic up at the start of the new year, with a shallow 10% take on each sale made through their own store, which launched back in October.

“Turns out, it does not cost 30 percent to distribute games in 2018. After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share.” said a Discord community blog.

Along with the 2019 change in Discord‘s revenue shares, the store will also be opening its store to more devs.

“We are going to extend access to the Discord store and our extremely efficient game patcher by releasing a self-serve game publishing platform. No matter what size, from triple-A to single-person teams, developers will be able to self publish on the Discord store with 90-percent revenue share going to the developer. The remaining 10-percent covers our operating costs.”

If things go smoothly, Discord stated that they might even try to go lower than 10% if they can work with developers to discover even more efficient ways to distribute their games. 

Discord Store Screenshot

By offering the lowest take on developer, and publisher, titles Discord is looking to make their store the prime location for devs to sell their games. This tempting offer is going to make Indie developers especially intrigued, while a 90/10 split is even enough to make big time devs like Ubisoft consider the move to Discord. With more than enough users already on the social platform, with enough titles, Discord could easily still see a profit just from the number of sales they’d make.

Active users is where Discord has a clear advantage over the Epic store when it comes to battling Steam for PC games. While Epic has over 200 million Fortnite players, Discord has over 200 million active users on their primarily PC service. So while these numbers might sound similar, only a fraction of Epic’s Fortnite players play the Battle Royale title ON PC. Discord‘s users are already on PC, meaning it wouldn’t be nearly as hard of a push for them to persuade their users to buy PC games through their store. Meanwhile, it will be considerably harder for Epic to push players to actually install their store on PC. Just because an Epic account is used for Fortnite doesn’t mean they’re playing Fortnite on a PC, meaning Epic is facing an uphill battle.

Discord has been a prominent social tool among the PC gaming community. With forums and other social tools, Discord has become a common spot for gamers to hangout. It allows players to chat about new games they’re playing and lets you see what games all your friends are playing. Now, there will be a button for you to click and POOF! you’re in the Discord store and can purchase the very same game you see all of your friends sinking time into. It will be that easy.

Discord isn’t just for gamers though, it can become an extremely powerful tool for developers as well. Through Discord channels, devs have a way of communicating with their fans. Players can post on a dev or publisher board and interact with them in ways other streaming services don’t often offer. Fans can hang out in specific Dev/Publisher channels and discuss their titles, offer feedback, or ask questions. Then, when a developer is ready to launch a new title, they have an immediate way to start spreading the word about it through the very same channels.

Discord is well aware of this potential and has already begun capitalizing on that relationship, which separates them from other online gaming stores. 

SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption
SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption was one of the First on Discord games.

“Discord has also brought game developers and their fans much closer together,” a recent blog post reads. “As a player, there is something amazing about jumping into a verified community server and talking directly to the developers who build the game you love.”

Another glaring difference is Discord‘s subscription service versus Epic’s bi-weekly free game offer. 

With Discord‘s “Discord Nitro“, players have access to a multitude of AAA titles whenever they like, for just $10 a month. At the same time, Epic’s game store offers a free game every two weeks, which is great, but a free game every two weeks isn’t necessarily better than a subscription, if that service offers better content. 

When you pay for a streaming service like Netflix, the price comes with this unspoken expectation that if I pay for this, I have a guarantee the service will continue to expand without me having to do anything. When you pay for Netflix, or Humble Bundle, or whatever, there is this mutual understanding that your money is going to get you access to shows or games you want to watch or play. A random game giveaway every now and again might not seem as appealing. Yea, it’s free, but it’s ONE game, and that one game might not be a title you’re looking forward to. It especially won’t be a new title you’ll be getting for free.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but I’d be more willing to shell out a few bucks if I knew I’d be getting my money’s worth, versus waiting every couple weeks for a game I may or may not want to play. With a subscription you know the library will continue to grow in the background, regardless of how often, or not, you check it. Not to mention, you could always do both. Who’s to say you can’t pay for Discord Nitro but still exploit Epic’s bi-weekly free game? 

Discord Image on Multiple Platforms

Online game distribution is rapidly expanding, with a new kind of online store popping up almost regularly now. On PC, players have over 10 options as of this writing, and I’m sure that number will continue to grow as providers maneuver ways of tempting devs to hop on their band wagon. 

Lastly, another potential selling point is exclusives. While Steam has had a monopoly over the PC game distribution market for the last decade, the Epic store  delivered an immediate gut punch to them during the Game Awards 2018. While certain early access titles were announced specifically for the Epic Store, like Hades, it was revealed that devs had pulled their titles from Steam for exclusive Epic Game Store rights as well, obviously in favor of their drastically lower selling point. It is possible with Discord‘s even lower take home percentage we could see exclusive title’s popping up on their store page as well. 

While the console war has been a long, arduous feud between Sony and Microsoft, it is clear that there is another storm brewing on the horizon. Though Steam has remained the undisputed provider for PC games for over 10 years, it would seem that other services have become obvious contenders for that title. It is too early to tell if Epic, Discord, or even other providers can hold a candle to Steam’s long standing reign, but if nothing else, these providers will be forcing Steam to rethink their business model going forward if they hope to remain relevant.  

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