Many launchers have been released for PC, at least brand-exclusive for company games, but none have been able to match Steam. Most of the launchers only provide self-published games. Steam has been every PC player's go-to game buying and management platform for years.
None of the launchers came close, at least not until the release of Epic Games' own launcher. Both have the same service of providing games to the players, but the adopted methodology to do so is like chalk and cheese.
In this article, we've taken the liberty to compare both launchers to give you a perspective of which launcher is better. To be fair, both the launchers have something to offer, and it completely depends on a player's need and what they deem important. And we're not just talking about the launcher but the overall functionality of both the stores.
Steam & Epic Games Store - General
Before we proceed toward the specifics, let us talk about the two stores in general and what they offer. Steam is created and run by Valve Software, the creators of popular games such as Team Fortress, Portal, Counter Strike, and Left 4 Dead.
Steam was released in 2003 and has been the face of PC gaming ever since.
You can browse the Steam store using your web browser or your mobile phone. It also has its own standalone application for both PC and mobile users. On PC, it is through this application the games are purchased, managed, and launched.
Steam is well-known for its community-driven hub offering user reviews, discussions, forums, gaming streaming, and much more. It also has a workshop that allows players to create their own mods for the games. You can also add and chat with friends on Steam, and the conversation can be carried over on the mobile application as well.
Epic Games Store
Epic Games Store offers a similar service of providing games and was launched fairly recently in December 2018. Epic Games are well-known mostly for their hit battle royale game Fortnite and Unreal Engine.
What makes Epic Games Store different from Steam is their limited range of games but very good games. They mostly offer their own published games and AAA titles. More on it below.
You also add friends and connect to other socials (Facebook & Steam) with Epic Games Launcher.
We will focus on several factors when comparing both. As mentioned before, both the launchers are great, and the only disparity is from person to person based on their need.
Let's start with the elephant in the room - Game Library. This is where we really get to compare the two and see which one is a better launcher regarding their game library size.
When we talk about the number of games and the variety, Steam, without a doubt, knocks Epic Games Store out of the park. Steam offers all sorts of games, whether bad or good. To put it simply, there is no filter, and any and all types of games can be found on Steam.
The good thing about Steam is that it allows you to filter your genres to come up with a suitable type of game.
The issue with such a huge library of over 50,000 games is that it can get easy for lower-quality games to show up on your home page, leaving the good games on the sidelines. It can get difficult for higher-quality games to be discovered by players looking to play something new and exciting.
Steam has a Discovery Queue feature that helps players find new games by showcasing the new releases, top-selling titles, and games similar to those you play or own on Steam.
It also features an Explore Queue, which showcases recommended games based on your search history and other users' search history.
While Epic Games Store only has less than 1,000 games, it offers high-quality games and highly-anticipated AAA titles. The titles players are mostly looking forward to are always available on Epic Games Store, just like they are on Steam. Epic Games help players find good quality games and don't let just any game slip past them.
Epic Games Store doesn't have a feature like a Discovery Queue, but it does have a Discovery page that shows new games, deals, featured titles, and limited titles.
You can also navigate over to the 'Browse' tab and filter the games you want.
It really comes down to personal preference on this one. On Steam, you get a variety of games, and on Epic Games Store, you get a limited number of games but good games that are available on Steam too.
Game Pricing & Revenue Split
When it comes to pricing, Steam showcases the price in favor of the dollar conversion rate. This is because Steam offers more local currencies than Epic Games Store. Due to the market constantly changing, there is a chance that prices on Steam may fluctuate for some users from specific regions.
In some cases, Epic Games foists their regional prices, which may result in a lower or higher price tag depending on your region.
Speaking of prices, since these are both digital platforms, all the game developers can publish their games on them. When it comes to revenue split, Epic Games Store is a better option than Steam. Epic Games take only a 12%-13% cut, while Steam takes a 30% cut for the published game.
In addition, if game developers utilize Epic Games' Unreal Engine to develop and publish a game, a 5% royalty fee is waived. Epic Games also has its own Developer Portal, which can be used to manage your published game, finances and check statistical data about your game.
Overall, pricing-wise, it's safe to say Steam and Epic are on equal footing from a player's perspective. However, from a Developer's perspective, Epic Games prevails.
Both are quite easy to navigate, but Steam's user interface is a lot more congested than Epic Games' Launcher. On Epic Games Launcher, navigating a game and launching it is as simple as finding its icon, clicking on it to launch it, or clicking on its 'Launch' option.
On Steam, you need to navigate through a list of games. This can be quite fast and easy if you have fewer games, but as you get more and more games, it can get a bit hectic to look at.
The Steam user interface can look much more cluttered and adhere to the classic Valve theme, while Epic Games Launcher is more in line with the modern, clean and sleek look. Epic doesn't provide a lot of information on the go, whereas the Steam store gives a lot of information about the game.
Personally, I prefer the look of the Epic Games Store over Steams.
Customization & Social Aspect
Steam had years to perfect its customization features. Steam has improved upon its initial designs based on community feedback, and rest assured, being in the market for over a decade can help develop something the users would love.
Steam offers players to sell their in-game content in the marketplace to earn Steam Wallet funds. These funds can be used to either purchase other items or even games. The item purchasing or trading is involved between the players on the Steam platform. Items can also include cosmetics and collectible cards. You can also change your profile picture frame, banner, and complete profile theme.
Counter Strike Global Offensive is one of the most popular Valve games that offer in-game weapon skins. These skins can be sold or traded with other players in the marketplace.
In contrast, Epic Games Store doesn't offer any customization options. But, who knows, maybe a few years down the line, we may see something that closely resembles this. Epic Games is continually working on improving its store and launcher, which can be tracked by visiting its Trello board.
Once again, when it comes to the social aspect of the two, Steam takes the cake on this one. Steam offers a review system where players can review the game and leave their comments based on their experience.
This is a good option, but sometimes players tend to get together and leave negative or positive remarks to overwhelm the system, which may mess up the results. It can give unrealistic or "planned" results.
Besides coming together to review-bomb a game, Steam offers many other social features, such as a community hub for each game where you can share your experience.
You can chat with your friends using Steam's built-in chat system and even carry out voice chat. You can directly join your friend's game using the friends list.
Epic doesn't offer all of the above. You can only add and chat with your friends on Epic Games Launcher.
Most of the players would irk at the sound of free games as they are usually not the best when it comes to quality. The best free games always have a catch, such as a season pass. However, plenty of free games might catch players' attention in a good way.
Free games have gotten a bad name due to the market rush on Steam. As we've stated before, Steam contains any and all types of games. It is always difficult to separate the good from the bad apples. This is where Epic Games Store excels in every manner.
Epic Games Store offers AAA game titles as free games, albeit for a limited period, but you get to keep the game forever if you can claim it within the given time. Epic Games have offered well-known titles such as Grand Theft Auto 5, Borderlands 3, Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, Wolfenstein, XCOM 2, and even the Bioshock trilogy.
Moreover, Epic also includes amazing bundles with massive drops in prices. One of the recent examples includes a bundle of Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin's Creed: Valhalla for $50.99. The price of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla standard edition alone is $59.99. And Watch Dogs: legion also costs $59.99. Both the games individually would cost an average buyer up to $120, but with the bundle, they get both the games for half the price.
Steam doesn't offer any huge title for free. They might give a free trial of a well-known game but never for free.
This is where Epic Games Store really hits it for me and takes the cake.
In recent years, controller support has been integrated into all the games. This is true for the games on both Steam and Epic Games Store. However, the gaming launcher having controller support is something Steam excels in.
Steam offers excellent controller support for PC players. It has something called 'Big Picture Mode,' designed to optimize your TV's Steam interface and provide better controller support.
This is something Epic Games Store can learn from and integrate with their launcher. This is just another feather in the hat for Steam.
Finally, we have the streaming services and streamer support from Steam. Steam has a dedicated section for streamers which they can use to Stream on Steam itself. In addition to sharing your media files, you can also stream live to a number of players on Steam all around the world.
If you go to your Steam launcher settings, you can find a 'Broadcasting' section that allows you to configure your stream.
Comparing both, if you love customization, community interactions, and meeting new people, then Steam is your go-to gaming platform on PC. If you like minimalistic design, as far as the UI is concerned, then the Epic Games launcher is your best bet. If you are only looking for quality content, Epic Games Store can help you out there.
And if you are a developer, I'd say Epic Games Store is one of the best both in terms of support and revenue split. Overall, Steam still takes the victory home, based purely on the range and variety it offers in terms of features and customization options. It has better community interaction and mod support tools thanks to Steam Workshop.
Epic Games Launcher still have a few things they can tweak for a better overall experience. It is not to take away from the launcher, but it just doesn't offer nearly as much as Steam when it comes to other activities (streaming support, community place, marketplace, customization, etc.).
While Steam may be the winner here, you may still want to check Epic Games Store occasionally as they offer some quality games, including triple-A titles, for free.