Epic Games is making changes in the payment system for Fortnite creators. This could have a profound impact on the game’s ecosystem. 40 percent of the earnings Epic earns from Fortnite, hundreds of millions, if not even billions, is now up for grabs.
Epic launched “Creator Economics 2.0” last week. Epic will pay 40% of Fortnite’s net revenue each month to creators, based on how many players interact with their islands. Epic will pay out 40 percent of its net revenues from Fortnite Crew subscriptions, V-Bucks and in-game outfits to creators based on how much players engage with their islands.
Fortnite generates “billions of dollar a year in revenue through player purchases,” SaxsPersson, Epic’s EVP of Fortnite, stated onstage last week’s State of Unreal. Even if that is only $1 billion in net revenue per year, at most $400m per year is available for grabs. There’s a catch. Epic’s in-game islands, which include its flagship Battle Royale game, are and eligible to receive payouts from their revenue pool. Epic is willing to spend a lot of money and then take a lot of it back.
What percentage of the pie does Epic actually receive? Persson stated at State of Unreal that islands created by other creators account roughly for 40% of Fortnite playtime. This suggests that Epic does not only keep 60% of Fortnite‘s revenues, but also keeps 60% of the pool. Creators may get less than 40% of the pool’s 40 percent, as payouts are based on engagement. Epic will not be based on playtime. Instead, Epic will determine payouts based upon whether an island attracts new players (or lapsed players) and if players return on a regular basis.
These metrics still favor Epic’s islands, according to my opinion. me is a fan of Epic’s battle passes. These allow you to get new outfits and V-bucks that can be spent in the game’s shop if you have enough experience by completing quests. Most of these quests are only available on Epic’s islands. I don’t see any reason to try something other than Epic. Although it is possible to gain experience while playing on creator-made islands you won’t get as much as the Epic’s handcrafted quests.
Epic will fund Fortnite’s development through payments.
Persson stated that Epic will use its payouts to “primary way for Epic in Fortnite paying for our own game development going forward.” Persson spoke at the State of Unreal keynote. This money is not used for Battle Royale island development. The other money, which Epic considers “Fortnite ecosystem design”, is used to support the development of the game’s code and art. To follow this link, you may need to log into Epic.
Epic’s definition of these metrics is ambiguous, so it could be contentious as to how they decide which payouts. The company reserves the right to ban any islands it considers inappropriate, such as Mario Kart Clone or recreations from some older Fortnite Islands . Persson says that the company will listen to criticisms about its payouts. He tells me in an interview that the company is open to hearing from you. However, it deliberately doesn’t disclose how it measures metrics to avoid inadvertently introducing the wrong types of incentives.
I asked Epic about expanding the battle passes to include non-Epic experiences, and how it might promote other creators. Although Epic does this occasionally, Epic’s new system of paying creators on the basis of player engagement could make it unfair to keep the battle pass Epic-focused. Persson told me that he believes the battle passes will be modified to incorporate work from outside creators. Persson did not commit to when, but he said that it was an important question to find a better balance to what the battle pass does today.
The new system, according to creators who I spoke with, will improve even if they don’t know how much money is up for grabs. Kasper Weber, CEO at Beyond Creative, which creates custom Fortnite experiences and other services for brands, says that they have taken a step towards compensating creators.
The previous “Support A-Creator” system meant that creators didn’t get a penny when you purchased their products or played on their islands. To ensure that a creator you like gets cash, you must know their “creator code”, know where to enter it before you buy anything from the store, and then follow up. Even then, the creator would still only receive 5 percent of your purchase. Many Fortnite creative Studios have had to rely heavily upon brand deals for income instead. They effectively built virtual worlds to promote brands such as Balenciaga, Chipotle, Verizon, and Chipotle.
R-leeo Maoate is co-owner, CEO and creative director at Zen Creative. “Creator Economy 2.0 is going to be a better way for creators like ourselves to monetize, make a decent living, and encourage us to create better experiences.”
Similar suggestions were made by other Fortnite developers I spoke with. Boomer Gurney, Team PWR’s creative director for game design, says, “To have a system you can influence by making a great game or if you have an app that players love and that they return monetarily to you for that — that is a big deal.” (Though creators must still have at least $100 in payouts within one year, just like the Support-A–Creator system.
These outside organizations will compete with Epic for the revenue pool. But, Gurney said in an email that “in some ways we’ve always been competing against Epic’s islands.” “As a team that values player engagement and longevity of experiences, it’s exciting to have a revenue stream that directly supports them.”
Epic hopes that the move will open up new experiences beyond tense shootouts or complex building. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney told my colleague Andrew Webster that the company wants to grow and welcome creators. This could mean Fortnite has a wider audience than it currently does. We might be able to get something like Roblox’s Adopt me! life simulation — and, if it attracts new players, the creators will get paid.
Zen Creative and Team PWR can now focus their energy on games that are more fun, as they will make more money keeping players engaged than creating advertisements for brands. The new system was discovered by the creators on Wednesday, at the same time as everyone else. They are optimistic.
Weber says, “We really came not from a lot. You couldn’t really earn a living these past few months unless maybe you might have been among the top one percent creators.” “I am mostly happy to see it moving somewhere,” Weber said.