One of last year’s leading indie critical darlings, Outer Wilds, has been solely available on the Epic Game Store, where it was first launched as a timed exclusive. This model has been a key part of Epic’s business strategy, and while the company had no way of knowing Outer Wilds would garner widespread praise, it turned out to be one of a handful of marquee titles for the game launcher. That’s about to change, however, as a June 18 release date for the game has just been added to its page on the Steam store.
Outer Wilds had been in the works prior to its release since 2012, at which point game director Alex Beachum was a graduate student at USC. As the project evolved, a campaign was launched in 2015 for a fuller version of what was then just Beachum’s master’s thesis on video game crowdfunding site Fig. Three years after that, Annapurna Interactive bought the publishing rights for Outer Wilds, not necessarily guaranteeing its success but at the very least providing a notable platform to the project.
Then, in May of 2019, closing in on its release date later that month, Outer Wilds was announced as Epic Games Store exclusive. This proved controversial, as reward tiers for crowdfunding backers had included a promise of Steam keys for the game. Linux users were possibly foremost among those who felt slighted, as Epic’s launcher does not support the operating system.
Ultimately, Outer Worlds‘ developers made the decision they saw fit to release the best version of the game they could; even if the decision to release solely to the Epic Game Store was made for predominately financial reasons, it is money, after all, that makes gaming experiences like these possible in the first place.
That said, the Outer Wilds community seems to have accepted its release model in the time since. Comments in a Reddit thread discussing its newly-announced Steam release date are almost universally positive about the expanded platform the game will receive as soon as it’s added to Steam in June, and a larger audience is able to experience one of 2019’s GOTY contenders.
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