(Credit: Ubisoft)

A lot has been happening lately over at Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite. First, late last year, it invested some of its staggering Fortnite cash flow to create an Epic Games Store that competes against Steam. Then Ubisoft quickly announced that it would publish The Division 2 on this store instead of Steam.

And now that Epic has followed up by snagging the exclusive distribution rights for the PC version of Metro Exodus, Ubisoft is reporting a unexpectedly positive ripple effect.

In an earnings call reported by PC Gamer, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot stated that pre-orders for the PC version of The Division 2 are higher than that of the original game, despite the loss of Steam as a distributor. (The Division 2 is scheduled for release on March 15, and Metro Exodus comes out today, February 15.)

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In addition, the Epic Games Store charges publishers a 12 percent cut of their sales revenue, while Steam customarily takes a 30 percent cut. So sales for the Division franchise have gone up and Ubisoft stands to make more from each copy sold.

Of course, a rise in pre-orders for a sequel to a popular game isn't exactly shocking, but the absence of Steam as a distributor doesn't appear to be a net loss for Ubisoft, despite Valve Software's store being generally regarded as the 800-pound gorilla of the PC game marketplace.

In addition to the Epic Games Store, Ubisoft sells PC games on its own store, which delivers games to players via the company's Uplay desktop app. These versions are incompatible with Steam. But despite that incompatibility with the most popular PC game distribution platform, Guillemot said that pre-orders of The Division 2 on its store have been six times higher than those of the original game.

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Granted, a high number of pre-orders doesn't necessarily mean that a game will continue to sell a lot of copies throughout its lifespan. But Guillemot is optimistic, telling participants of the earnings call that The Division 2 "has all it takes to be a bigger seller, lifetime, than Division 1."

Metro Exodus' removal from the Steam store just two weeks before its release has generated conflict even within its publisher THQ Nordic, but Ubisoft announced its decision to keep The Division 2 off Steam before pre-orders became available. So it'll be interesting to compare the sales of the two games over the next few months.

Takeaways

  • Game publisher Ubisoft says that PC pre-orders of the upcoming The Division 2 are much higher than that of the original game, despite the sequel not being available on the Steam store.
  • In particular, pre-orders of The Division 2 on its own game store have been six times higher, and CEO Yves Guillemot is optimistic that the sequel will eventually outsell the previous title.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.