It’s a bit reductive to call Tim Sweeney just the ‘Fortnite boss’ – his company Epic Games has a big business outside that game too, from the Unreal Engine development platform to game series like Gears of War and (via acquisition) Rocket League. But it’s Fortnite’s success that has reinforced Sweeney’s stature within the games industry, so when he talks about the market, people listen.
Witness his keynote this week at the Dice Summit in Las Vegas, written up by The Hollywood Reporter. Sweeney talked about games like Fortnite as platforms in their own right, including for brands. “The future of this, if you have an awesome new product, you start releasing free stuff in games and people get [engaged with it],” he said.
Marshmello, Weezer and Major Lazer are among the first artists to have so far tested out Fortnite’s marketing (and virtual-merch) potential, as well as various Hollywood studios and games publishers.
Sweeney also criticised the ‘loot box’ monetisation model that have become popular but also controversial in the games world in recent years – loot boxes being virtual items that players buy, and open to get random weapons, armour, outfits etc. “We have to ask ourselves, as an industry, what we want to be when we grow up. Do we want to be like Las Vegas, with slot machines … or do we want to be widely respected as creators of products that customers can trust? I think we will see more and more publishers move away from loot boxes.”
Image by Whelsko (CC BY 2.0)