In mid-March, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to explain that while the company would "wholeheartedly support" the third-party sale of keys for games on the Epic Games Store, it would not do so for titles exclusive to the storefront. As such, it was understood that third-party key sellers, such as Humble and Green Man Gaming, would not be offering keys for Epic Games Store exclusive games, like Borderlands 3.
However, just a week after this statement, Sweeney changed his position, stating that keys for exclusives would be made available through the Humble Store so long as the game's developer chose to work with this third-party site. Indeed, these keys would still need to be activated through the Epic Games Store launcher, but opening up exclusive keys to these outside storefronts has an undeniable impact on many players worldwide.
Specifically, the Epic Games Store charges additional fees to those that are using certain payment processors, such as paysafecard or WebMoney. This means that players that use these payment processors have been forced to pay a premium on Epic Games Store exclusive games up to this point.
On the flip side, third-party key sellers often have different arrangements with these payment processors, and can thus sell games to players using them without any markup. Furthermore, giving third-party sellers access to keys means that these sites can compete with one another on the pricing of Epic Games Store exclusives, potentially manifesting as additional savings on these games.
All of this said, not all Epic Games Store exclusives have been made available across Humble and Green Man Gaming, but one has: Borderlands 3. Yes, at this point in time, players can pre-order Gearbox Software's highly anticipated shooter through these third-party sites, and players that have VIP status at Green Man Gaming can even get a 10% discount on the title.
The availability of Borderlands 3 on third-party sites was recently pointed out to Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford on Twitter. His response was seemingly one of confusion, as he stated the following: "Where did you find BL3 for sale? Link, please? You must be mistaken."
Earlier this week, Pitchford issued a vehement defense of Borderlands 3's Epic Games Store exclusivity through Twitter. Part of this series of tweets focused on what Pitchford described as Valve taking an "absurd cut" of the revenue on Steam sales, an apparent reference to the baseline 70/30 revenue split offered by this distribution platform.
This is in contrast to the 88/12 split offered by the Epic Games Store, and, interestingly, Green Man Gaming offers the same 70/30 split as Steam. Humble finds the middle ground, giving developers 75% of sales.
Where did you find BL3 for sale? Link, please? You must be mistaken.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) April 19, 2019
As such, unless specific arrangements have been made for these third-party key sellers to adjust revenue shares for Epic Games Store exclusives, Gearbox will be receiving less on sales through Green Man Gaming and Humble. Epic has previously indicated that the company "will receive no revenue share from the sale of those games purchased through the Humble Store," so it seems that the developer share will indeed be less from these third-party storefronts.
If this third-party availability is news to Pitchford, which his tweet seems to suggest, his confusion on the matter is understandable. The increased revenue to developers is certainly a selling point of putting a title on the Epic Games Store, and this may be circumvented by those that purchase through the Humble Store and Green Man Gaming.
The Gearbox CEO has since followed up, stating that he has asked Borderlands 3's publisher about the situation, and "they seem to believe that these sites are selling keys that will enable a credentialed account an entitlement of the game on the Epic Games Store." Certainly, this is what many would expect, and Pitchford's phrasing suggests that there may still be some confusion about how these third-party key sellers will impact Gearbox's bottom line.
Borderlands 3 is currently scheduled to release on September 13, 2019, for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.