The Epic Games Store is rolling out a new “Epic Rewards” program to give players five percent cash back on PC gaming purchases. Whether it’s in-game purchases like Fortnite V-Bucks or big blockbusters like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the new policy is essentially a discount on everything you buy through Epic’s competitor to Steam.
Everyone who has an Epic Games Store account is automatically enrolled, and the savings are deposited into players’ accounts after 14 days—the point after which it’s no longer possible to refund a game. That part is kind of silly, but the rest is a clear attempt by the company to try and make its PC gaming hub a more attractive platform on which to build up a game library (Nintendo has a similar rewards program that’s really nice).
The Epic Games Store was a lightning rod for controversy back when it first launched because of deals it cut with publishers to make some PC games exclusive to its storefront. Notable games like Hitman 3 and Control wouldn’t become available on Steam until a year or more later, creating a hassle for entrenched Steam users who didn’t want to juggle multiple PC gaming clients. The company reportedly spent over $1 billion on these timed-exclusivity deals alone.
Now the Epic Games Store is just sort of…there. It’s slowly getting new features but doesn’t have basic storefront elements like user reviews, a big driver of how people decide what to check out and buy on Steam. And the Epic Games Store gives away free games all the time, but it’s still not clear just how big the platform has gotten or whether it’s on the verge of taking a significant chunk of Steam’s share of PC gaming fans.
More free stuff is certainly one way to try and keep tipping those scales away from Valve. The Epic Games Store already offers developers a better split on store fees, and now it’s effectively making every game five percent off as well and eating the difference. It can seemingly afford to do so, at least for now. Fortnite’s battle royale spin-off made $9 billion in the two years after it first came out.