Epic games

The Epic Games Store is getting a heck of a deal on those free games

If you’re simply showing up every week to download free games, you alone aren’t actually costing Epic that much money.

The Epic Games Store has a place on my PC where it might not otherwise, and that’s largely thanks to the free games. Since late 2018, the company has given away dozens of titles, including heavy hitters like Grand Theft Auto 5. What we didn’t know until recently was how much this tactic was actually costing Epic. What does it spend to dish these freebies out to the masses? Now, thanks to the Epic vs. Apple trial, we have some sense of what Epic is handing over to game developers and publishers.

The data shown above runs from December 2018 to September 2019. In that span, as The Verge helpfully pointed out, Epic spent $11.6 million on free games for users of the Epic Games Store. Altogether, that seems like a lot of cash.

Where things get more interesting, though, is if you try to parse out the cost per entitlement — the effective amount Epic is spending on each copy of a game that is claimed by a user. To get that, we’re taking the “Buyout Price” and dividing it by the number of “entitlements” (claimed free games) the company was on the hook for.

As you’re about to discover, if you’re simply showing up every week to download free games, you alone aren’t actually costing Epic that much money. Thanks to the deals it’s making ahead of time, the cost per free game is stunningly low.

GameEntitlementsBuyout PriceCost Per Entitlement
Super Meat Boy1,759,421$50,000.00$0.03
What Remains of Edith Finch1,684,926$125,000.00$0.07
Jackbox Party Pack1,416,906$80,000.00$0.06
Axiom Verge1,297,299$80,000.00$0.06
Thimbleweed Park1,973,778$85,000.00$0.04
Slime Rancher3,417,371$500,000.00$0.15
The Witness2,766,867$400,000.00$0.14
World of Goo2,438,304$50,000.00$0.02
Stories Untold2,261,398$300,000.00$0.13
City of Brass2,105,605$200,000.00$0.09
Kingdom New Lands2,168,125$100,000.00$0.05
Enter the Gungeon2,722,191$700,000.00$0.26
Rebel Galaxy2,126,164$125,000.00$0.06
Last Day of June2,001,838$75,000.00$0.04
This War of Mine2,777,885$250,000.00$0.09
Alan Wake2,867,671$150,000.00$0.05
For Honor3,048,725$63,000.00$0.02
Mutant Year Zero3,023,084$1,000,000.00$0.33
Hyper Light Drifter2,726,839$200,000.00$0.07
The End is Nigh2,422,807$200,000.00$0.08
Batman Arkham6,448,904$1,500,000.00$0.23
LEGO Batman5,258,028$300,000.00$0.06
Metro: 2033 Redux4,548,873$0.00$0.00

If you showed up to claim each and every one of these games, it cost Epic Games a grand total of $3.85 to keep you coming back week after week. When you take the total price Epic paid for all these games and divide that by the entitlements, the company paid approximately 11 cents per game. That’s like the cost of an AdWords click, but with a lot more upside in the long run.

It would be greatly interesting to see the types of deals Epic made more recently. For example, I’m dying to know what the company had to pay to get GTA 5 into its free game program. For now, I thought this data was interesting. You may think Epic is just shoveling huge amounts of money into an incinerator. But if you consider the freebies a sort of ad spend, EGS is actually getting a lot of bang for its bucks.

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