Creative Assembly this week announced that the latest release in its Total War series, Total War: Troy. Will be coming exclusively to Epic Games Store for 12 months. Cue explosions of fan rage at having to use another launcher on their PC?
Well maybe not, as the game will be free to download for the first 24 hours of its release, allowing hardcore fans, and newcomers who keep an eye on Epic’s storefront, the opportunity to download the game for free.
The Total War franchise is now a truly epic [sorry] one, dating back 20 years to its first release. A date that Creative Assembly is celebrating with this anniversary release.
In a recent blog post Creative Assembly explained the decision to take the series, which has been a Steam stalwart for as long as Steam has existed, to the Epic Games Store. In which it immediately set out to counter any backlash in a well argued manner:
“While we know that some of you won’t like the Epic Games Store exclusivity, we feel like this is a great opportunity for us in a lot of ways, and we’re hoping that you’ll take some time to hear us out and for us to answer what some of the questions we think you might have.
“First of all: this is an opportunity for TROY specifically, and we have no plans for future games to be Epic exclusives. As developers we truly value our existing fans, but at the same time we want to reach new audiences and have as many people as possible experiencing the thrill of Total War for themselves. As a business that means putting Total War onto new platforms so that it can reach more players. This is part of that and in principal we’d like future Total War titles to be simultaneously available, from launch day, on as many store fronts as possible.
Which makes perfect sense, so this deal is to try and expand the fanbase, a fanbase that after so many years may have reached its limits on Steam alone – at least in established Steam regions.
“Right now, this is a one-time, one-year exclusive deal for TROY. We’ve always said that Saga titles allow us to experiment, and this is an experiment on a grand scale. TROY seemed like a good game to try this out with, especially as pre-orders aren’t live on Steam yet, so no one’s already put money into a store they’ll have to wait 12 extra months for it to appear on.”
A very key point for anyone else looking to do the same, make the decision and move to Epic before you take pre-order you have to potentially cancel orders and refund money, not after.
CA notes that Epic approached them with the offer. “It was a difficult decision, and you can be assured that there were a lot of differing opinions in the studio, and a lot of discussions about it – which largely focussed on what it would mean for you, the players.
And CA is pushing that the benefits of the deal will allow it further invest in the franchise for the benefit of all the players.
“We’re at a time when we’re looking to invest more into the ongoing development of Total War this felt like an opportunity to really move the franchise forward by getting it in front of more people.”
And finally it notes that a multi-store industry is just so much healthier for everyone:
“Like others in the industry, a key reason for exploring other digital stores is that we don’t want to be limited just to Steam. We also want to diversify our business. In fact, we want to get our games onto as many stores as possible. Long term, we want to expand where players find Total War. This deal gives us a great way to try out other platforms, such as Epic – to see what works for us and what doesn’t. It allows us to get a feel for the development required to expand to other platforms…
“This opportunity allows expansive back-end infrastructure development that will allow us to expand into multiple stores. That means we can have more resources, push ourselves further, be more creative, make more Total War. We’re always looking to evolve and improve on our games and this deal gives us a lot of ways to do that – as we said, fresh perspectives, money that we’ll be putting back into the studio, new ways to expand.
“You might not immediately see a big change, but we’re confident you will over time – and we guarantee there are a lot of things behind the scenes being made possible due to this, which we wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to do. Some of this is long-term – but there are short-term benefits to you, as well as us.
It’s an insightful and well thought out argument for the reasons to move to the store, and the free 24 hour period and the lack of pre-order on Steam show that it’s far better thought-through than many earlier such moves. A template then for how best to take your franchise elsewhere? We’ll have to wait to see on that.