Epic’s brand new sort-of free-to-play action survival game Fortnite is on its way to being the firm’s highest performing release to date.
Speaking to VentureBeat, Epic boss Tim Sweeney said that the project’s userbase was much higher than they had anticipated.
“[Fortnite] is on track to be Epic’s most successful game ever by the end of the year,” Sweeney said.
“Several times more users than we expected came in. We had to really scramble to keep the servers running at that scale. It was great experience. This is just the very beginning. We have a bunch more game modes coming, which should be interesting and innovative. The whole aspect of building in Fortnite creates a really different dynamic compared to most games. Building structures, defending them, you can imagine all the multiplayer implications.
“We’re very happy with the transition we’ve been making, from being a lone developer who works with a publisher and puts games on retail store shelves to running our games live as services where we can constantly improve the game based on feedback. It’s been a great step. Fortnite is getting better every week.”
Sweeney went onto discuss the changes in how much triple-A games cost to make, saying that the original Gears of War set the firm back $12m while currently triple-A titles require a $100m-plus budget.
“[Fortnite] was much more expensive [than Gears of War],” Sweeney said.
“What we saw over the last generation — the economics started out incredibly attractive. The first Gears of War game cost about $12 million for Epic to make and earned us more than $100m. But by the end of that generation, the costs had blown up to almost equal the profit a game could make. At this point, in this generation, I don’t know how you make a game at the triple-A level unless you sell 12 million copies or more. The teams are hundreds of people, sometimes more than 1,000. Budgets are more than $100m, sometimes several hundred million. The scale of sales needed to justify that is crazy.
“It’s awesome to see so many different games of different sizes being built. Everything from Astroneer, which was number one on Steam and built by six people, to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which is not a huge team. Indies can succeed with great games at any scale. We’re constantly reminded of that. The only thing all great games have in common is fun. Anything from Angry Birds to Grand Theft Auto, they all provide fun in a different way. There’s a 10-person version of a fun game and there’s a 1,000-person of a fun game, and they both work.”