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Epic Games buys out Rocket League creator, will pull game off Steam

Steven R. May 1, 2019

Epic Games been making aggressive moves for a while now, and it just kicked things up another notch.

The publisher has announced the acquisition of San Diego-based game development studio Psyonix Incorporated. Best known as the team behind Rocket League, the Psyonix purchase marks one of the biggest coups pulled off by Epic at a time where it is rapidly expanding across the entire video game industry. No financial information was offered on the move.

“Today is a big day for us here at Psyonix because, just as the headline says, we’re officially joining the Epic Games family,” the company said in a statement on the official Rocket League website. “Your first question to news like this might be, ‘What does this mean for Rocket League and its community?’ We’re happy to say that the answers are only positive. Rocket League always has been and always will be a community-driven game, and now that we have joined forces with Epic, we will be able to serve our community in even bigger and better ways!”

Spurred on by the booming popularity of Fortnite, Epic Games has been looking to spread its wings across the gaming industry. Though the company has long been a key player due to the widespread use of its Unreal Engine in game development, Epic has been expanding its efforts more broadly over the past year.

The biggest battleground has been around Epic’s efforts to lock down exclusive rights for digital PC releases for the Epic Games Store digital storefront. This has seen a number of prominent titles including Metro Exodus, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, and Borderlands 3 go unlisted on Steam or be made abruptly unavailable for sale.

Epic has also been expanding its base of social media influencers with the expansion of the Support-a-Creator program. Initially made to mobilize pro players and content creators to raise awareness for Fortnite, the function has been expanded across the entire Epic Games store. This serves the dual purpose of raising awareness of the storefront and also driving sales through influencers’ fans.

But why did Epic Games make the move to buy out Psyonix? The answers are unclear.

Epic has been buying out a number of other companies over the last 18 months, including cloud gaming designer Cloudgine, anti-cheat developer Kamu, and “digital human” technology creator 3lateral Studio. None of those outfits are traditional video game developers, making the acquisition of Psyonix a surprising one.

According to a press release, the acquisition of Psyonix will result in Rocket League being pulled from Steam and made exclusive to the Epic Games store later this year. That is certainly a boon for Epic, but Rocket League exclusivity did not require a buyout of the studio.

So what does this mean for Rocket League fans? According to Psyonix, pro and casual players won’t have to worry about major shakeups happening any time soon.

“In the short term, nothing will change at all! We’re still committed to providing Rocket League with frequent updates that have new features, new content, and new ways to play the game for as long as you’ll have us,” Psyonix said in a statement. “In the long-term, we expect to bring Rocket League to the Epic Games store and to leverage our new relationship to grow the game in ways we couldn’t do on our own before.”

Though the game will be pulled from Steam, it will still likely receive patch support through the platform for the foreseeable future.

Epic’s plan isn’t clear quite yet, but this does feel like the first step in something big.

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