Epic Games Store's Free Games Wane In Popularity Yearly

Interest in Epic Games Store's free games declines, with fewer downloads year after year.

Will Epic games halt its slow decline?

The Epic Games Store's initiative to offer free games on a regular basis is encountering a gradual decline in user interest, as evidenced by the latest annual report from Epic Games. Despite the universal appeal of receiving free items, the statistics reveal a year-over-year decrease in the number of downloads for these complimentary offerings. This shift suggests a changing landscape in consumer engagement with the platform's free game promotions.

A Closer Look At The Numbers

In 2023, the Epic Games Store offered 86 games for free, collectively valued at $2,055, with an average rating of 75%. These games were downloaded nearly 586 million times. When comparing these figures to those of 2021 and 2022, while the value and average ratings of the free games remained relatively stable, the download numbers present a stark contrast. From 2021, with 89 free games downloaded over 765 million times, to 2022's offering of 99 games reaching nearly 700 million downloads, the platform has seen a significant reduction in user uptake, marking a 16% decrease in downloads in 2023 despite offering 13 more free games than in the previous year.


Humble Beginnings

Epic Games was initially founded as Potomac Computer Systems in Tim Sweeney's parents' garage in Potomac, Maryland. The company's first commercial game was "ZZT," released in 1991.

Unreal Engine

Epic Games is the creator of the Unreal Engine, one of the most successful and widely used game engines in the world. First introduced in 1998 with the game "Unreal," the Unreal Engine has powered countless games across multiple generations of consoles and PC.

Fortnite Phenomenon

Epic Games is best known for "Fortnite," which quickly became a cultural phenomenon after its release in 2017. Fortnite's Battle Royale mode popularized the battle royale genre and has attracted millions of players worldwide.

Epic Games Store

Launched in December 2018, the Epic Games Store is a digital distribution platform that competes directly with Valve's Steam. It has been known for giving away free games weekly and securing exclusive titles to challenge the dominance of Steam.

Cross-Platform Play

Epic has been a major advocate for cross-platform play, working to ensure that Fortnite players on PC, consoles, and mobile devices can play together, breaking down barriers between gaming platforms.

Legal Battles

Epic Games has not shied away from legal battles, most notably its lawsuit against Apple regarding App Store policies and fees. The case has significant implications for app distribution and developer rights.


In 2020, Epic Games committed $100 million to support game developers, enterprise professionals, media, entertainment, and academic institutions working with Unreal Engine through the Epic MegaGrants program.

Innovative Technology

EBeyond gaming, Epic's Unreal Engine is used in film production, architecture, automotive design, and virtual production, showcasing its versatility and impact on various industries.

Financial Success

In April 2021, Epic Games completed a $1 billion funding round, valuing the company at nearly $29 billion, highlighting its enormous growth and success in the gaming industry.

Epic's Headquarters

Despite its global influence, Epic Games maintains its headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, not far from where Tim Sweeney started the company in his parents' house.

Future Prospects Amidst Economic Challenges

Despite this downward trend, Epic Games, as of mid-October 2023, reaffirmed its commitment to the free games program. This is in spite of the company having to lay off 16% of its workforce and facing revenue shortfalls against its investments. Kyle Bilings from Epic Games highlighted that since its inception in 2018, the free game program has attracted over 90 million new players, underscoring its effectiveness in user acquisition. Even amidst financial difficulties, Epic Games plans to continue offering free games into 2023 and beyond, banking on its potential to draw new users to the platform.

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