Industry giant Epic Games has announced that it’s in the process of acquiring San Diego-based studio Psyonix, who develops the very popular vehicular-soccer game Rocket League. The title is one of the biggest cross-platform games that are available on all major platforms, second only to Epic’s Fortnite, and with more than 57 million lifetime players it represents the company’s most significant acquisition to date.
Furthering Epic’s developer-centric vision for the future of PC gaming?
Epic Games has been aggressively pursuing exclusive game content for its PC games store, with AAA titles such as Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 already listed, plus World War Z and Borderlands 3 in the pipeline. The acquisition of Psyonix initially appeared to be a significant move in Epic’s on-going battle to persuade Steam to commit to a permanent 88% revenue share for developers and publishers. Epic-exclusivity for Rocket League would represent a significant loss for Steam, and further fuel existing market tensions.
However, despite initial indications that Rocket League would cease to be available on Steam following its release on the Epic Games Store, the company later clarified that no plans regarding the sale of the game on Steam had been finalised. The future of the title on Steam therefore remains to be seen. Whilst seeking exclusivity seems natural based on Epic’s recent movements in the market, such deals have previously sparked a backlash from the community – as with Metro Exodus’ last-minute Steam departure.
In pandering to the industry rather than the consumer, Epic has alienated many potential audiences. The potential impact of this response, though, has thus far been offset by the tremendous success of Fortnite, which continues to thrive and fund Epic’s numerous strategic moves and acquisitions.
A mutually beneficial partnership for growing esports presence
Psyonix stated that the acquisition would increase “potential reach and resources” for the Rocket League esports ecosystem, which has already amassed a considerable fanbase. Season 6 of the biannual Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) started in September 2018, featuring a million-dollar prize pool and 165,000 peak Twitch viewers. Support from Epic Games could allow Rocket League’s various tournaments to expand to further regions, and the acquisition is a sign of Epic’s commitment to investing in the still-emerging esports trend, which is set for its biggest year yet.