As a slice of PC gaming fans continue to bicker over the rise of alternatives to Steam, another small studio has decided to sell on the Epic Games Store as an exclusive. This time, it’s Italy’s Storm in a Teacup, whose first-person horror game Close to the Sun will launch as an Epic exclusive on May 2.
“Our partnership with Epic has been a long one. They have supported us since the early days of the project on both a technical and commercial level, providing an Unreal Development Grant, which has helped make the game what it is today,” said Storm in a Teacup project manager Roberto Semprebene over email on the decision to pick Epic. “The continuation of that strong bond, to launch the game on the Epic Games Store felt like the natural route and the visibility and support it gives us as a new developer is key.”
Close to the Sun takes place in an alternate-world in which Nikola Tesla changed the world with his discoveries (Tesla is a nice fit with the studio’s name, Storm in a Teacup). You adventure on the Helios, Tesla’s research vessel. But not all is right with this colossal ship — as the studio says, it’s “grand halls stand empty. The stench of rotting flesh lingers in the air. Silence. A single word is painted across the entrance … quarantine!”
Epic has signed a slew of exclusives since its store debuted in early December. The make of the Unreal Engine game engine toolset made waves when it announced it would give developers an 88% cut of every sale. The industry standard had been 70%, and that’s what Valve was giving developers on Steam.
Then it made those waves bigger when it announced that it had signed Deep Silver’s Metro: Exodus as a PC exclusive after the publisher had already been taking preorders on Steam. While it honored those sales on Valve’s platform, this moved resulted in angry people review-bombing Exodus.
The next big game to pick Epic over Steam was Ubisoft’s The Division 2, which also launched on the publisher’s own Uplay service. And when 2K announced that Gearbox’s Borderlands 3 was coming to Epic, studio boss Randy Pitchford cited Epic’s cross-platform play tools as one reason to choose it over Steam.
“To me, exclusives are fine when they come with advantages and when they are short,” Pitchford wrote on Twitter. “For what it’s worth, 2K’s decisions aside, myself and the team at Gearbox have a very keen interest in cross-platform play. We believe multi-platform support is a prerequisite and Epic’s leadership with cross platform support is helpful to our interests there.”
Publisher Wired Productions managing director Leo Zullo acknowledges the ruffled feathers, but it notes that options like Epic are good for developers like their studio, a small shop.
“We can understand the apprehension gamers have about using a new store; however, we strongly believe that the Epic Games Store offers not only a great service for developers, but a great service for consumers too. Competition is good, competition encourages everyone to improve. Ultimately, we hope that Close to the Sun captures the imagination of fans and helps them overcome any reservations. The fact that a smaller developer and publisher have a great chance of a game being seen has to be viewed as a positive. If this game is successful, it leads to other games from the same team,” he said.
Update, 2:52 p.m. Pacific with comments from the publisher and developer.