Epic Games already make an engine to build games and a store to sell the finished products, and now they’re getting into the publishing game to fund development too. Today they announced a “developer-first” multiplatform publishing scheme that will fully fund games but let the devs keep creative control and ownership of the intellectual property, which is fairly rare as publishers go. They’ll also promise the makers at least a 50% share of the profits. Epic announced a starting lineup of three partners: Remedy Entertainment, the creators of Control and Max Payne; GenDesign, the new studio from The Last Guardian director Fumito Ueda; and Playdead; the gang behind Inside and Limbo.
“We’re building the publishing model we always wanted for ourselves when we worked with publishers,” CEO Tim Sweeney said. Epic detailed three core tenets in their announcement:
- Full creative freedom and ownership. Developers retain 100% of all intellectual property and full creative control of their work.
- Fully-funded projects. Epic Games Publishing will cover up to 100% of development costs, from developer salaries to go-to-market expenses such as QA, localisation, marketing, and all publishing costs.
- 50/50 profit sharing. Developers earn a fair share for their work — once costs are recouped, developers earn at least 50% of all profits.
As publishing deals go, that sounds like it might be alright. It’s extremely common for developers to sign away the rights to their games, meaning they can lose control over everything from sequels to ports. Remedy already have experience with that themselves, having only got the publishing rights to Alan Wake back off Microsoft last year. I couldn’t directly compare this to other arrangements myself, but having established developers like Remedy and Playdead sign up is a fair endorsement.
Epic may currently be unpopular amongst some for their scheme of Epic Games Store exclusives keeping games off other, less-janky stores, but chosen developers have seemed pleased to work with them. Several have told us the exclusivity deals gave them much-needed stability.
So what are these first three Epic publishpals making? Remedy said today that Epic are actually publishing two of their games, one “AAA multi-platform game already in pre-production” and “a new, smaller-scale project set in the same franchise.” As for the rest, Epic say “Additional information, development partners, and games will be announced in the coming months.”
Oh, and GenDesign may be a studio you don’t know so: they’re the new crew of Fumito Ueda, who was the director of Ico, Shadow Of The Colossus, and The Last Guardian at Sony. A number of other Team Ico folks joined him, and they helped finish The Last Guardian for Sony before starting on a new game of their own.
It would seem likely that games Epic publish under this would be exclusive to their Store, but the announcement doesn’t say anything about that. I asked, and their PR said they’re not yet talking about anything outside this initial announcement. Mysteries!