Paradox Interactive (Cities: Skylines, Surviving Mars) seems to be getting fed up with the “standard” 30% fee on sales charged by Steam and many other game platforms. Speaking at a Gamelab panel hosted by GamesIndustry.biz last week, Paradox Chairman of the Board and former CEO Fredrik Wester called that state of affairs “outrageous,” adding, “I think the platform holders are taking too much money. Everyone in the press here, just quote me on that.”
The 30% fee baseline, Wester argues, can trace its origins back to the economics of the home video market in the 1970s, when studios like Warner Bros. negotiated similar fees with retailers selling early VHS tapes. “That was physical. It cost a lot of money,” he said. “This doesn’t cost anything. So Epic has done a great job for the whole industry, because you get 88 percent. Fantastic move. Thank you very much.”
Saying that it “doesn’t cost anything” for stores like Steam to distribute and service a game is going a bit far. Beyond the simple costs associated with processing payments and providing download bandwidth, platforms often provide everything from multiplayer APIs to achievement and leaderboard systems to anti-cheat services and a whole host of other useful features. The Epic Game Store, with its undercutting 12% fees, does not provide many of these features as of yet (but the company does have a public roadmap for adding many of them in the near future).