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Exclusive: Skybound Games’ CEO on why The Walking Dead opted for Epic Games Store exclusivity

The Walking Dead series, originally developed by Telltale and recently brought to completion by publishing outfit Skybound Games, finished its run exclusively for sale on the Epic Games Store.

It’s not the first long-awaited game to appear only for the Epic Games Store, but in our exclusive interview with Skybound Games’ CEO Ian Howe, he shines a light on some of the strengths of the Epic Games Store, and some of the challenges it’ll have to face in the future.

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“We worked closely with Epic on a number of different things,” said Howe. “When the situation came up — with us taking over development on The Walking Dead’s final season — Epic were very proactive in reaching out and seeing how they could assist and help.”

“Epic Games realised what we (at Skybound Games) were trying to accomplish. And they stepped up, offering some significant support to us in many different areas to help us make this happen.”

“I don’t know whether it’s completely true to say that it wouldn’t have happened without their help,” said Howe. “All I can say is that they expedited the process. They helped it all happen much more quickly, and they were incredibly proactive in making sure the game got finished. As part of that, we signed an exclusivity deal with Epic.”

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This exclusive means that each game of The Walking Dead released by Skybound Games’ was available on the PC exclusively through the Epic Games Store. It’s a timed exclusive, and Howe claims that The Walking Dead will be available on other stores “at some point in the future.” However, it also seems to be going the other way too, as all episodes of The Walking Dead are planned to appear on the Epic Store at some point “within the next two or three weeks.”

Looking at the state of the PC retail market, Howe laughs.

“That’s the $64,000 question,” he says. “Look. Steam single-handedly reinvigorated the PC platform a few years back, and they’ve done so many things to really help build a vibrant PC gaming community again. I think Steam, for me, both as somebody in the business but also from a consumer point of view, I think Steam has done amazing things for our industry. But there’s always room, I think, for disruption and competition. Competition’s always healthy. And I don’t think Steam ever set out to become a monopoly. But they did, just because they did such a phenomenal job with the platform that they built.”

“I don’t think that was ever their intention. I think their intention was really just to provide a platform for the PC market, which they did wonderfully. So now, there’s more competition coming into the market. I don’t think Epic are going to be the only players moving in. Other players have obviously expressed an interest in that area. So I think competition is generally healthy, so we’ll see how things play out. My crystal ball’s not particularly been focused on that area. But it is good to have competition.”

“I think the guys at Valve really should be commended for what they did and what they’ve continued to do with the Steam platform over the years.”

Skybound have some announcements coming in the next few days, and they’re likely taking a breather as The Walking Dead games have come to an end. We’ll see what comes about in the near future. 

What do you make of the clash between Steam and the Epic Games Store? Let us know on Twitter at @TrustedReviews


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