Fortnite billionaire pledges US$100 million to help game developers hit bull's eye

Tim Sweeney burst onto the international stage with the success of Fortnite, a free-to-play shooting game that has drawn more than 200 million players worldwide.
Tim Sweeney burst onto the international stage with the success of Fortnite, a free-to-play shooting game that has drawn more than 200 million players worldwide.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (WP) - Mr Tim Sweeney, billionaire founder of Epic Games, is offering US$100 million (S$135 million) in grants to game developers, with no strings attached, to help promote the industry.

A longtime but low-profile presence in the video-game business, he burst onto the international stage with the success of Fortnite, a free-to-play shooting game that has drawn more than 200 million players worldwide.

In a presentation on Wednesday (March 20) at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Mr Sweeney made it clear his company was more than a one-shot deal.

Epic owns Unreal Engine, game-design software that he said will play an increasing role in not just video games but also movies and other creative endeavours.

Epic recently launched a game store that takes a smaller share of customer purchases than app stores run by Apple and Google.

In line with the broad goals for the Unreal Engine, the Epic MegaGrants are available beyond game developers to film-makers, educators and creators of "open-source projects that in any way benefit the whole digital content creation ecosystem", Epic said in a statement.

Mr Sweeney is not asking grant recipients to use either the Unreal Engine or the Epic Store. "There are no commercial hooks back to Epic," he said.

 
 

"You don't have to commit to any deliverables. This is our way of sharing Fortnite's unbelievable success with as many developers as we can."

The company last year launched a US$100 million esports prize pool for Fortnite competitions, open to amateurs and professional players alike.