Steam’s dominance as the go-to platform for PC games has faced a few challengers over the years—but the Epic Games Store is one of the biggest and best contenders for the crown. But which digital platform is better?
In this article, we pit Steam vs. Epic Games Store, taking a look at different aspects of these two stores, from their user interfaces to game prices. Here’s how each measures up across different categories…
What Is the Epic Games Store?
The Epic Games Store is a digital PC game storefront launched by video game company Epic Games—most notably known for creating the Unreal Engine and Fortnite. The store launched in December 2018, built off the Epic Games launcher. As such, the Epic Games Store can be accessed as standalone software or as a website.
Unlike most other storefronts launched by game publishers, the platform is not only limited to titles from Epic Games. The store provides a variety of timed exclusives, notable indie games, and a few AAA titles.
It also features social functionality such as a friends list and chat. Other features include a games library and a news stream.
Visit: Epic Games Store
What Is the Steam Store?
Steam is a digital PC game distribution and streaming platform created by Valve Software, the creators of games such as Left 4 Dead and Dota. Valve also created the Source game engine.
The platform launched in 2003, making it one of the oldest digital games distribution platforms still around. It comes as standalone software, but can also be accessed via the Steam website or the Steam mobile app.
Steam has a considerable number of other features besides its storefront. The platform acts as social gaming hub, game streaming software, and more.
Steam vs. Epic Games Store
So when comparing Steam vs. the Epic Games Store, which is better? That depends on the category. There are some things that Steam does better and other things that Epic Games does. Here’s a look at different aspects of each storefront and which comes out best in each category.
Steam vs. Epic Games Store: User Interface
When it comes to the UI of each storefront, both opt for a sleek, modern design. However, Steam’s has noticeably more features, tags, and elements.
This applies to each platform’s games library too. In 2019, Steam updated its games library to look more modern, but also paired a games newsfeed with each title in your library (similar to the PlayStation Network). The downside is that this makes the library considerably more cluttered.
In contrast, Epic Games keeps its newsfeed in the user’s home tab, making the library minimalistic and simple. Clicking on a title will launch, update, or install the game.
Since both have modern designs, the appeal of each UI’s aesthetics will come down more to personal taste. However, when it comes to ease-of-use, the Epic Games Store’s simpler interface makes the UI considerably more user-friendly.
Fewer tabs and dropdown menus add to this simplicity, whereas Steam’s UI can be a bit overwhelming for those who don’t use it regularly.
Winner: Epic Games Store
Steam vs. Epic Games Store: Game Selection
When it comes to the selection of games, the Steam store has a much larger variety of titles to choose from. That said, quantity doesn’t equal quality. One of the reasons to stop buying on Steam is that the platform allows low-quality games and clones on the platform. The varied quality makes it more akin to something like the Google Play Store.
This means you have more to choose from, but great games can become buried among the trash. When it comes to Early Access games, there’s also a lot less accountability and vetting of developers.
Steam is a haven for indie titles, but these same indie developers struggle to gain exposure among such a massive amount of choice.
On the other hand, the Epic Games Store has far fewer games on the platform, but their quality is markedly better. The games include both AAA and indie titles, but the common trait seems to be a reliable track record.
The major downside is that there is still a lot missing from the store in terms of availability. While Epic Games has definitely been fleshing out the selection since the store’s launch, many gaming gems have been left out. These include great indies like Stardew Valley, Don’t Starve, and more. Epic seems to be focusing on newer indies rather than adding slightly older ones to its catalog.
Both storefronts are guilty of heavily promoting pre-ordering games (even though you should stop pre-ordering games ), even for titles that aren’t set to be released for months. So neither performs better on that front.
Winner for the variety of games: Steam
Winner for the quality of games: Epic Games Store
Steam vs. Epic Games Store: Store Features and Perks
Besides the user interface and game selection, each store also has different strengths when it comes to their exclusive features and perks.
Steam has spent years polishing its game recommendations algorithm for users. This means the storefront offers an explore queue—a curated list of recommendations that players can use to sort through the many games on the platform.
Steam also offers mini-games for sale, in-game collectibles, and a marketplace for in-game items. The review system for Steam also helps get community feedback on games, a useful metric you can use to check out game quality. However, this is also vulnerable to review bombing.
The Epic Games Store also has a few special perks up its sleeve. This includes limited-period offers on games that allow you to download them for free. The store has also pushed exclusive timed releases heavily, with a few notable developers choosing to release their PC games on Epic Games before any other platform.
Even with all of that taken into account, Steam still has the upper hand when it comes to helping users explore through games, recommending games that suit their tastes, and allowing you to collect and sell items.
Steam vs. Epic Games Store: Social Features
Both Steam and the Epic Games Store boast social features such as chat and the ability to add people to your friends list. However, much like in other categories, Steam’s social features are considerably more extensive than Epic’s.
Other social features Steam has include profiles where friends can leave posts, media sharing, game recommendations based on what friends are playing, the ability to invite friends to games, message boards, and groups.
Epic’s social features mostly focus on chat and your friends list. However, a notable perk is the ability to link your Steam profile to console profiles so you can communicate with your friends across platforms. This means you can talk to and invite your friends in games like Fortnite even when you are using different platforms.
If you’re looking to really implement social aspects into your gaming, Steam is the better platform for this.
Steam vs. Epic Games Store: Prices and Revenue Split
For many gamers, the deciding factor between platforms won’t necessarily be UI or social features, but the price of the games. So how do Steam and the Epic Games Store compare in this respect?
Neither platform consistently undercuts the other across the board, with price differences seemingly on a case-by-case basis or due to region-specific pricing.
However, because Steam is available in more local currencies, it often uses market-related prices rather than a straightforward dollar conversion. So in South Africa, for example, games retail for closer to the equivalent of $70 rather than $60. Steam uses the local price as a baseline rather than the usual dollar price.
In this scenario, the raw conversion rate offered by Epic Games Store on most games works out cheaper. At the same time though, Epic also sometimes institutes its own regional price differences.
As such, there’s no way to conclusively say which store has the better price for gamers.
But when it comes to the revenue split for developers, the Epic Games Store provides a better ratio than Steam.
At the time of writing, Steam’s revenue split with developers ranges from 30/70 to 20/80, depending on game sales. This means that Steam takes a cut of between 20 and 30 percent of revenue made by a game. The company only lowers the percentage from 30 when a game makes over $10 million.
On the other hand, the Epic Games Store offers a 12/88 revenue split ratio. This doesn’t change based on the revenue of the game. Furthermore, for developers who have used Unreal Engine 4 for their game, the Epic Games Store waives the usual 5 percent royalties fee that Epic charges when these games are published on other platforms.
Revenue Split Winner: Epic Games Store
Steam vs. Epic Games Store: It’s a Draw!
After comparing the two digital platforms across a range of categories, we can’t pick a winner. Steam is better in some ways, while the Epic Games Store is better in others. So, just use the one which you personally prefer.
And if you want to buy games online from elsewhere, check out our guide to the best sites for video game deals and discounts . Who knows, you may even find a bargain or two.