Question: what ties together Epic, developers of the Unreal Engine and battle royale smash-hit Fortnite and pop megastar Taylor Swift? The answer, as they say, may shock you.
We won’t keep you waiting though, and the answer isn’t to do with Tay Tay’s release of a fairly decent Instax camera. Instead, it’s because both Epic and Taylor Swift have stood up to bullies in their respective industry, fighting to get a better deal for everyone.
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Both Epic and Taylor Swift are juggernauts in their respective industries, but their fights might have ensured a better place for those less fortunate. We’re not kidding ourselves: we know there’s an element of selfishness as both are profiting immensely.
First, take all of your preconceptions about Taylor Swift and toss them in the bin. Taylor Swift is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, but she’s also one of the best-earning songwriters of the generation. She’s shown a fair bit of business acumen, but most importantly she seems to have a sense of what she feels her labour is worth, and has taken a stand for it.
Taylor Swift pulled her tunes off of Spotify back in 2014 in a spat about royalties on the streaming service, with Swift arguing that the fraction of a penny Spotify payed for each stream wasn’t fair for artists, especially at the free ad-supported tier.
While she was boycotting Spotify, she also aimed a broadside at Apple Music and their policy of not paying artists for listeners during the service’s free three month trial. Apple changed their policy, and they were blessed with the gift of Tay, as 1989 then appeared on the service.
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Epic, as a large business entity, had a slightly different method of attack. Epic thought the 30% cut taken by Valve’s game store Steam was excessive, and they were far from alone. However, Epic were huge enough to do something about the gaming monolith. After making a boatload of cash from their success with Fortnite, Epic launched its own gaming platform, Epic Games Store, letting developers flog their games while giving Steam just 12%.
This proved successful. In just a few weeks Epic announced exclusive releases for games like Metro Exodus, Phoenix Point, Hard Rain and many others. A partnership with Ubisoft saw games like The Division 2 launching on Epic Game Store instead of Steam, although you could still buy those directly through Ubi’s own online marketplace.
In short, Epic had started a war, and it looked like it was winning. Discord then launched its own store, offering a 90% cut to developers with Discord taking just 10%.
However, it was Epic that struck the first blow against Steam’s monopoly, and with their rapidly improving storefront and industry connections, it seems to be winning an audience.
If not, it has also just announced this week’s free game, a continuation of its promise to hand out a free indie game once every two weeks to every single customer. This time around, it’s Transistor.
So, go ahead and click here for a free game. It’s your reward for reaching the end of the
For my money, I like it when the status quo is challenged. Tay Tay and a faceless megacorp might not be your traditional anti-corporate heroes, but dismantling monopolies is.
Taylor Swift wasn’t successful when it came to making Spotify a fairer place for artists, and came back to the platform in 2017. Let’s hope that Epic has more success.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to a better place for developers and musicians trying to ply their wares?