When someone turns up on your doorstep with bags full of cash that will help ensure some of your future financial prospects, it’s hard to say no. That’s the conundrum that Rebellion CEO and co-founder Jason Kingsley faced when, a month after saying that they’ve need a “bloody good reason” to make their future games Epic Games Store exclusives, they’ve now decided to do just that for the upcoming Zombie Army 4.
During Develop:Brighton last week, speaking on stage to journalist Seth Barton, Jason and Chris Kingsley admitted it was a bit embarrassing to change their tune, and that “Generally I think I would prefer not to do exclusives but I understand Epic’s position with it, and quite frankly they are paying through the nose to build their store,” Jason said. In the end though, “It’s fantastic, and we’ll take some of their money, thank you very much.”
It’s something that we’ve seen playing out over the years in the video games industry, with studio buys outs, exclusivity deals and even just exclusive DLC deals all seeing developers and publishers welcoming benefactors with open arms. Of course, it’s in the spotlight now more than ever, as Epic Games buy exclusivity deals with the big and the small of the industry, much the the chagrin of Steam-centric PC gamers.
Of course, this is all about Epic forcing their way to a competitive foothold in the PC gaming market. Where Steam has had a number of publisher-owned stores to compete with over the years, such as Origin and uPlay, they’ve not really threatened Steam’s market dominance while only keeping their own games as exclusives, if at all. Epic has gone much further to buy exclusivity windows across the board, from smaller-scale games through to larger titles like Borderlands 3.
Jason didn’t really expect to be included in that number, saying “I didn’t really think they would, because typically they go for the super big [games]. Obviously they count our new title Zombie Army 4 as a big title, which is great, it’s a really nice bonus for us. I was quite impressed by the numbers they offered.”
In the end, it’s a “pure business case” for Rebellion. Jason said that, “Sometimes, as an independent developer, you’ve gotta take your chances. When something like that is offered… you sort of share the risk and share the reward.”
When it boils down to having money and the ability to finish or improve your product with financial stability and the eternal risk of releasing a game and potentially seeing it flounder, a lot of companies are seeing it as a bit of a no-brainer.