Warframe was a strange omission from the Epic Games store, given the significant history between Digital Extremes and Epic. They are co-creators of the Unreal franchise, while Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, and James Schmalz, CEO of Digital Extremes, have worked together since days of shareware from the early 90s. Epic Megagames, Sweeney’s company name There is $ 15 billion, published Schmalz’s Solar winds and Epic pinball machine in 1993. In 1998, Epic and Digital Extremes launched the original version Unreal.
However, the studios haven’t worked together for about 16 years. Digital Extremes has completed development on its latest Unreal game, Unreal Tournament 4, in 2004. Schmalz’s studio continued to help with the BioShock and Homefront franchises, build Darkness IIand release Warframe, a free online shooting game that is picked up 50 million registered players since its launch in 2013.
Epic, meanwhile, was busy with Gears of War, the Unreal Engine, and ultimately, Fortnite and Epic Games Store.
“We have stayed in touch over the years as our business has grown in different directions,” Sweeney told Engadget. “Now we are seeing that they overlap more and more and there is a great opportunity to connect our playing audience.”
Warframe joined games like Fortnite and Rocket league in the free section of the Epic Games Store. Sweeney said he expects this segment to become more critical for the industry’s digital marketplace in 2021 and beyond.
“Free-to-play will grow as more and more game genres evolve into online experiences played between social groups,” Sweeney said. “Games reach a wider audience if everyone is able to participate, whether or not they are comfortable paying up front.”
Schmalz said he saw parallels between the shareware of the 1990s – when developers made their games available to BBS users in exchange for donations and feedback – and the current ecosystem of live, online and free games. . Really, he says, the ideas behind shareware and games as a service are not at all different.
“The fundamental concept is that you are offering an experience for free,” Schmalz said. “And you better be good at keeping the player interested to the point of eventually buying something. You only win money if it’s good enough, and the player only spends money if they think it’s good enough. So it’s a pretty good feedback loop that works well for all sides. I think there was an element of training as shareware developers that led to some basic development philosophies that naturally work very well for GAAS. “