This is why some PC players are angry about Dead Island 2’s Steam version


One of last year’s top video game releases was undoubtedly Dead Island 2. The game had players controlling one of several characters in modern day L.A. during the zombie apocalypse. Of course, as in the earlier game you had to kill the zombies in gory ways as you played through the game’s story missions.

Dead Island 2 got an expansion titled “Haus” last November, which added more content to the original game.

The thing is, Dead Island 2 on PC had only been available on the Epic Games Store, and only hit the Steam store this Monday. It also launched on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S last April. But while you may think that PC users interested in playing Dambuster Studios’ zombie game would be cheering its arrival on Steam, the truth is that many have been up in arms over its arrival on Valve’s store, giving it bad reviews on the platform as a result.

You see, this is because the game makes use of the Epic Online Services software development kit (SDK for short), as was recently covered on PC Gamer.

The Epic SDK is used by other high-profile games such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Elden Ring. Dead Island 2 uses it in order to allow cross-platform multiplayer, that is, in order to enable players running the Epic version of the game and those running the Steam version to play online multiplayer matches together.

Actually, this is what a Plaion developer (Plaion owns Deep Silver, the publisher behind the game) told one irate user on the Steam forum when he complained about the matter.

“The Epic Games Launcher isn’t required to play the game. If you prefer enjoying either single-player or multiplayer with other Steam users, you won’t need the Epic Games Launcher. However, for crossplay with players who own the game on Epic, linking to your Epic Games Account is necessary to sync up friends lists”, said the company representative on Steam.

Nonetheless, and even if the Epic SDK is only needed for the above reasons, some users might still see Dead Island 2 as an Epic exclusive due to the fact that it needs Epic’s software to work 100 % even if you’re running the Steam version.

This has raised the issue of Epic Games Store exclusivity on PC, as some uses will only purchase a PC game if it’s available on Valve’s Steam store. But sadly for Steam-centric PC gamers, quite a few high profile games over the years have been Epic store exclusives at launch, only to arrive on Steam later. Such was the case of Game of the Year candidate Hitman 3 (now known as Hitman: World of Assassination), which launched on the Epic Games Store in January 2021, but only hit Steam in January 2022.

The reason for this exclusivity mostly has to do with Epic giving video game companies a larger cut of the profits than Steam, something that Valve (the company behind the Steam platform) has complained about.

But still, and regardless of complaints about its Steam version, Dead Island 2 has been quite a hit since its launch in April last year. At last count, it had sold more than 2 million copies, with company Embracer Group (which owns Plaion) saying it had “far surpassed the management’s initial expectations”. And this is despite the game being stuck in development hell for years as it moved from developer to developer, before Dambuster Studios was able to complete the eagerly awaited zombie game.

However, it’s likely that the debated regarding the game’s Steam version will continue, as not everyone is happy about it needing Epic’s launcher for multiplayer gameplay, even if Dead Island 2 does have thousands of players on Steam right now despite the controversy.