(Credit: Ubisoft)

While Steam has been the de facto PC game store for many years, a lot has been going on behind the scenes over the past year, spearheaded by Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite. The battle royale game's multi-billion dollar revenue stream has allowed its publisher to entertain and execute some bold ambitions, starting with the Android version skipping the Google Play Store.

Phase two is apparently the Epic Games Store itself. Like its Google Play Store move last September, the company is motivated by a desire to not share a 30 percent revenue cut with whatever store hosts its games. So it's made one of its own, where it charges just 12 percent, and it's giving away one game every two weeks through the end of 2019.

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Major publishers and developers are flocking to the new digs, and Epic's latest salvo involves collecting exclusives. Toward that end, the highly anticipated The Division 2 will not be coming to Steam at all when it launches in March.

The PC version will apparently only use Ubisoft's "Uplay" platform, which competes with Steam. You may be able to buy product codes for the game from Amazon, Best Buy and other stores, but you won't be able to redeem them for use with the Steam client.

Where does the Epic Games Store fit in the world of game distribution?

Given that The Division 2 is a tentpole release for Ubisoft, selling codes on the Epic Games Store is a significant early victory for the new marketplace, which was launched barely a month ago. Part of this may be thanks to Epic's long and successful history in the notoriously fickle and fast-moving games industry, dating back to the early 90s.

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Another element is the Unreal Engine, a game creation platform that the company has been licensing for many years. If you as a game developer are licensing this engine, and you put your game on the Epic Games Store, the fee is basically waived. Ordinarily, Epic would collect 5 percent of your game's global revenue, but it's apparently more interested in leveling the playing field.

In short, between Epic's enduring tenure and its broadly popular game engine, it's a very visible force among game publishers -- who may also want to ride the Fortnite momentum wherever it takes Epic next. There's something to be said for getting in on the ground floor.

But while Ubisoft has made heavy use of this platform in the past, the Division games leverage its in-house "Snowdrop" engine instead; the publisher cited unpredictable costs and engine updates as the reason for the shift. So Ubisoft's new move to the Epic Games Store is apparently not motivated by saving money on licensing cost -- but it will still save a bundle with the store's much lower revenue cut.

Takeaways

  • Ubisoft is partnering with the new Epic Games Store to release the PC version of The Division 2 in March. The game will not appear on the Steam store, which has been the de facto marketplace for PC games for many years.
  • Steam purportedly takes an industry standard 30 percent cut of a game's revenue, but the Epic Games Store charges only 12 percent.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.