Having previously been a series that we first associated with DVD drives and then Steam, the next release in the Total War series—the spinoff A Total War Saga: TROY—is going to be a 12-month Epic Games Store exclusive. And it’ll be...free?
At least initially. Anyone downloading the game within the first 24 hours of it appearing on Epic’s store will be able to keep it without paying a cent. Which is certainly a unique way to try and “sell” a game.
Developers Creative Assembly, knowing that anything to do with Epic exclusivity is an invitation for certain parts of the internet to get very upset, have attempted to explain the decision in a blog post, saying “we have no plans for future games [in the series] to be Epic exclusives”, and that this deal was made because “we want to reach new audiences and have as many people as possible experiencing the thrill of Total War for themselves”.
And because Epic is paying them a boatload of cash to cover those free downloads.
Epic approached us and asked if TROY could be an Epic exclusive, as part of a commercial deal. That’s not to say that we immediately signed on the dotted line, or that money was the only reason that we did this (it’s not!). It was a difficult decision, and you can be assured that there were a lot of differing opinions in the studio, and a lot of discussions about it – which largely focussed on what it would mean for you, the players.
However, ultimately we considered two things. First we’re at a time when we’re looking to invest more into the ongoing development of Total War this felt like an opportunity to really move the franchise forward by getting it in front of more people. Secondly, Epic were paying for our players to have our latest release free on day one. For Total War’s 20th birthday, that felt like an opportunity too good to pass up.
They’re right about one thing: Saga games are indeed “titles [that] allow us to experiment”. The first one, Thrones of Britannia, sucked, but it had a few cool ideas that ended up making it into the very good Three Kingdoms. Maybe this one’s legacy will be that Sega and Creative Assembly get some feedback on whether a weird, staggered launch for a game is worth the up-front cash.