Exiting the Steam Room —
Epic gets a major “exclusive,” Ubisoft gets a bigger cut, Valve gets rejected.
The Epic Games Store’s relatively new effort to take on Valve’s Steam juggernaut received a major shot in the arm today. That’s because Ubisoft has announced that the PC version of The Division 2 will not be sold on Steam and will instead be available only through the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft’s own UPlay service.
Though The Division 2 previously had an info page listed on Steam, Ubisoft confirmed to numerous press outlets that “we have no plans currently on releasing Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 on Steam.” Epic Games also said in a statement that it “will also partner [with Ubisoft] on additional select titles to be announced during the coming year.” Epic said it will “work to integrate key components of Ubisoft’s Uplay and Epic’s online services to provide gamers from both ecosystems with more seamless social features and interoperability.”
Ubisoft titles previously released on Steam, including the first Division game, will remain on the service for now. Certain future games, including Far Cry: New Dawn, are also still planned for Steam release, Ubisoft told Variety.
“We entrust Epic to deliver a smooth journey for our fans, from pre-ordering the game and enjoying our Beta to the launch of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 on March 15,” Ubisoft Vice President of Partnerships Chris Early said in a statement. “Epic continues to disrupt the video game industry, and their third-party digital distribution model is the latest example, and something Ubisoft wants to support.”
While Ubisoft didn’t go into further detail on its reasoning for eschewing Steam in this case, Epic’s more generous revenue-sharing scheme likely played an outsized role. On the Epic Games Store, Ubisoft will keep 88 percent of all sales revenue compared with 70 percent on Steam (though the share on Steam would eventually rise to 80 percent after $50 million in sales).
Though the Epic Games Store has enjoyed some smaller exclusive releases since its December launch—including Supergiant’s Hades—The Division 2 is the first big-budget title from a major developer to ignore Steam in favor of the new platform. The first Division game attracted millions of owners through Steam, according to estimates from tracking service Steam Spy.
Since the Epic Game Store’s launch, some PC gamers have expressed annoyance at being asked to manage another online store and game launcher in addition to Steam’s de facto Steam standard. But The Division 2 is likely a big enough exclusive to convince many players to take a look at a service they might otherwise ignore. At the same time, that attention from gamers will increase the visibility of other titles on Epic’s store, potentially feeding a virtuous cycle for developers who might be thinking about taking advantage of Epic’s more favorable revenue sharing.
Ubisoft’s move comes after Discord announced an even more favorable 90-percent revenue share for its expanding Discord Store platform.