When Human Head Studios announced the return and rebranding of Rune II, the Epic Games Store exclusivity was, as you can imagine, a lightning rod for those against the storefront, with Rune II being yet another notch for Epic Games’ strategy to combat Steam. The studio today explained their choice, and say they took the deal for the sake of the game.
In an interview with Wccftech, the exclusive deal was the huge focus for Human Head Co-Founder and Project Lead Chris Rhinehart. He dove pretty headfirst into the business side of the deal. He understands why people were not particularly happy, but said the deal came at the perfect time to move the game’s development forward, and revealed the studio had a good working relationship with Epic long before the Epic Games Store was causing such heated debate.
“As we were working on the game, we originally planned to have the game out a little bit sooner, but we did a number of Closed Beta deathmatch tests before that,” said Rhinehart. “They originally started as testing out combat, to get a sense of how it worked in multiplayer and so forth. So we wrote a kind of simple form of deathmatch at that point and we were testing it. As we were going through that, we, collectively, us and our funding partner up to this point (ESDF), decided that the game needed just a little bit more time to cook.
“We were getting a lot of great feedback from our fans and from the people in the deathmatch test and we just needed more time. And frankly, we needed more funding, so we went out and did a lot of meetings with different publishers and different potential partners, just trying to figure out who would be the best people to partner with on this. One of them was Epic and it was a pretty good deal they offered us. It’s not Ferrari money or anything like that, as all the money we got, we’re putting into the development of the project.”
“I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but Human Head and Epic have got a really good relationship that goes way back to our first game, or actually when we were working on a different game,” he continued. “We were using the Unreal Engine at that point, the original Unreal Engine. That game ended up going away, but we really liked the engine a lot and we liked working with Epic, so we talked to them asking if we could keep using their engine and they said ‘Sure!’ In fact, we showed them the game that we were working on, Rune. And they were like, that’s great actually, we want to publish that. Epic was for a while, until Gathering of Developers came into the picture, the original publisher of Rune, though it was called Ragnar at the time. So we’ve stayed friends with Epic, we’ve stayed good business partners with Epic. It just kind of made sense. There was kind of this poetic aspect to it as the original Rune started with Epic, and then Rune II is also going with Epic as well.”
As far as his opinion of the store and what Epic is doing in the PC scene? He seems to have no issue with it at all.
“Epic Games Store will be a good thing for us as developers, it’ll be a good thing for the gaming public as well,” he said. “But you know, we totally understand and respect that people might not want to get a game on that store. They can wait or just decide what they want to do.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that the Epic Games Store exclusivity deal will be good for a game or company. That, of course, won’t stop the debate, and whether or not this is something that Epic Games can continue in the long term remains to be seen. But as it stands now, Rune II will release this summer on PC, available only on the Epic Games Store.