If you want to claim the next three weeks of freebies on the Epic Games Store, you'll first need to enable two-factor authentication on your account to strengthen its security. Two-factor authentication is easy to set up and use so it's not a bother, though it is curious that they're only requiring this until May 21st, not permanently. "We are making this change in an effort to encourage our players to take steps to strengthen their Epic account security," Epic explain, not really explaining.
You don't need to give Epic your phone number to use two-factor authentication. You can enable 2FA to run through e-mail, an authenticator app, or text message. I use e-mail myself because it's the least faff and doesn't give Epic personal information they didn't already have.
Looking for more free games? Check out our round up of the best free PC games that you can download and play right now.
"We understand that this is a minor inconvenience for some, but we want to provide the best possible solutions to protect your Epic account," Epic said in last night's announcement.
It's no surprise that Epic want people to further secure their accounts. When people get hacked one way or another, they cause more work for the support team, they make the company sound bad when they tell their pals, and they might be inclined to stop using the store/game/site/whatever. And it really does suck to get your account hacked.
It's quite common for companies to offer perks in exchange for enabling 2FA. Epic's own Fortnite gives players a bonus dance emote. GTA Online offers $500,000 of virtuacash. Waframe gives a player trail cosmetic doodad. And other such examples. Steam's approach is more stick than carrot, putting a hold on selling and trading items for people not using the mobile authenticator. Either way, they really would like you to lock down your account.
Free games on the Epic Store are enough of a carrot in themselves, though the fact that this is only for a few weeks does make me wonder if Epic might be planning huge giveaways that'll really make people turn on 2FA to nab them. Or maybe they're trying three weeks as an experiment. Or maybe they think three weeks would be long enough to get a considerable number of accounts secured without putting off too new people. Who knows. They're not saying.
Ars Technica asked Epic if this was sparked by a breach of Epic's security, or by concerns about other breaches like the recent big Nintendo account leak, but Epic replied simply "no".
The next weekly set of free games are coming on Thursday. They'll be Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a first-person spooker from the studio who later made Soma, and Crashlands, a game our former John (RPS in peace) quite liked on mobile. We don't yet know what's coming after that. And you've got until tomorrow to get For The King free - once you enable 2FA.
I know Epic are trying to capture a chunk of the market by throwing money at their subpar store but hey, I'll happily keep claiming freebies while they're paying developers for them.