Digital Bros, the parent company of Control publisher 505 Games, was paid $10.45 million USD by Epic Games to make the game an Epic Games Store exclusive. Control, the latest from developer Remedy Games, launched in late august for consoles and was an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC, which continues to be a subject of controversy for fans and a divisive topic in the gaming community.
Why companies are making the leap from Steam to Epic isn't exactly a mystery, however. Steam's reputation has taken a beating over the last few years, first for how bad the revenue split between Valve and publishers/developers is, then for how lax its moderation of the platform has gotten. The latter has seen extremely problematic games get much more coverage and reach than they probably should, and that, coupled with the fact some developers had to watch their games on sale next to a title that is explicitly attempting to shock or offend audiences, led many to seek an alternative. That the Epic Games Store also offers a significantly more generous split - at its best, its 18% better than Steam's - has enticed indie developers and AAA publishers alike to test out Epic Games Store exclusivity.
As it turns out, the Epic Games Store might be even more lucrative for publishers and developers who have sought-after releases coming up. According to a payment spotted by Daniel "ZhugeEX" Ahmad, an industry analyst from Niko Partners, it appears Epic Games paid 505 Games over $10 million USD in order to have exclusive rights to the game for the Epic Store. The document that details the exchange notes that Control brought in the $10.45 million in revenue on June 30, well before the game actually released. On a later platform breakdown in earnings, Epic appears at the same time period as a source of the same amount of income.
Digital Bros, parent company of 505 Games, has disclosed that they received a payment of 9.49 million euro from Epic Games for Control.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) September 20, 2019
Which I would imagine is for exclusivity.
55% of that payment going to 505 Games.
Report here: https://t.co/ocmbIQeOfJ
There are a few caveats here that are worth noting, however. First, the exact details of this arrangement aren't known. That payment could have represented a specific amount of future earnings being presented up front, and might have had other terms and conditions beyond exclusivity attached as well. Neither company has been vocal about how this deal worked, and since this is the first people are hearing of it - outside of the actual exclusivity announcement itself - that doesn't seem likely to change. Second, it's possible there's a longer term plan in play for both parties that outside spectators have no knowledge of.
Either way, though, the payment Epic Games appears to have made for Control exclusivity is a pretty big reason - well, 10 million reasons - for why developers and publishers feel comfortable taking a risk on the Epic Game Store. While not every one will have the same sway Control did, games and their creators clearly seem like a priority for the Epic Store, in terms of both exclusivity deals and in taking care of them.