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Epic Games paid developers over $11.6M to distribute their games for free

Epic Games, Epic Games Store

Leaked court documents from the Apple vs. Epic courtroom saga revealed how much Epic spends on acquiring free titles for the Epic Game Store.

EPIC GAMES SPENT OVER $11.6M TO BRING FREE GAMES ON THE EPIC GAMES STORE

One of the Epic Games Store’s unique selling points is its free game offering every Thursday. But of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So, the question many people ask is how much does the company spend to bring these games to the store?

Apparently, it’s a lot. Just for its first nine months of operations, Epic Games paid developers over $11.6 million. This money allowed them to give away the titles to any user who redeems them for free during a weeklong redemption period. The amount paid to the developers varies depending on the title, with Epic seemingly paying more for more recent titles. The most expensive acquisition was Subnautica, which Epic Games had to pay $1.4M for. Some developers received as low as $50,000. Regardless, these numbers still pale in comparison to the billions of dollars Fortnite alone brings to the company.

For those wondering, the payment for Metro: 2033 Redux is listed at $0 because it’s part of a wider deal with Deep Silver to promote Metro Exodus. The game later released in timed exclusivity on the Epic Games Store.

Epic’s marketing efforts help grow its player base, attracting new users in droves who come to the platform just to get free games. In terms of returns, the $11.6M cost translated to almost 5 million new users between December 2018 to September 2019. That’s around $2.37 paid for each new user, which is a respectable rate.

However, Epic’s userbase growth has not yet fully adopted EGS as its primary storefront. According to Epic’s own year-end reviews, the 52 million new users they gained throughout 2020 didn’t end up as paying customers. Long story short, many EGS users are there just for the free games. Still, a growing userbase can eventually help topple Steam’s influence in the PC market.