Rebellion founders discuss change of heart on Epic Store exclusivity

Just a month after Jason Kingsley told MCV he would need a “bloody good reason” to do an Epic Store exclusive, Rebellion Developments signed just such a deal for Zombie Army 4.

On stage at Develop:Brighton this week with journalist Seth Barton, studio founders Jason and Chris Kingsley spoke more about what provoked the change in tact, conceding it was “bit of an embarrassing interview to give” as a result.

“Generally I think I would prefer not to do exclusives but I understand Epic’s position with it, and quite frankly they are paying through the nose to build their store,” said Jason. “All credit to them, it’s fantastic, and we’ll take some of their money, thank you very much.”

Despite Steam being the de facto PC storefront for over a decade, Jason said the decision to go elsewhere was a “pure business case.”

“I think partly it’s also a bit of a kick up the backside for anybody whenever a new [competitor] comes into the marketplace,” he added. “It makes you reflect. I mean, developers turn up with a brilliant game and… it makes you focus on your game as well. It’s exactly the same for multinationals.”

Chris compared the competition to the ancient rivalry of Sony and Microsoft in the console space, particularly when it gets “too far out of whack” like the runaway success of the PlayStation 2, which many argue led to complacency with the PlayStation 3.

Being approached by Epic for an exclusive deal was also not something that Rebellion expected to happen.

“I was aware that Epic was doing exclusives, [but] we hadn’t been offered at the time,” said Jason. “I didn’t really think they would, because typically they go for the super big [games].

“Obviously they count our new title Zombie Army 4 as a big title, which is great, it’s a really nice bonus for us. I was quite impressed by the numbers they offered.”

It was all part of the “attractive package” Epic put forward, noted Jason, who said the company was “keen to help support the game.”

“Sometimes, as an independent developer, you’ve gotta take your chances,” he said. “When something like that is offered… you sort of share the risk and share the reward.”

GamesIndustry.biz is a media partner for Develop:Brighton 2019 and attended with the help of the organisers

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