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Majority of Epic's 700 Staff Working on 'Fortnite'

But they aren't becoming a one-game studio, founder says

Despite Fortnite’s stunning success, game developer Epic Games isn’t becoming a one-game studio, but right now it sounds like it almost is.

“We have 700 people at Epic and it’s the majority,” Epic founder Tim Sweeney tells Glixel when asked how many people currently work on the break-out game. “But it’s a fairly unusual situation. We shipped it with 25 people and now we’re responding to the reaction.

“Right now we have a huge part of the company working on Fornite and we so many cool things we want to do. But that’s certainly not the long-term intent. Epic has been around for 27 years, we definitely have different games we’ll be working on.”

While a majority of the company toils away on Fortnite, facets of the company are also continuing work on Spyjinx and Battlebreakers. And of course there is the company’s game engine that receives constant work, though work on Fortnite feeds into that as well.

“We learn from all great experiences,” he said of the engine development. “Fortnite has pushed the engine in a very positive way.” Things like ensuring that the game would run at 60 frames per a second on all consoles and optimizing the game for mobile devices have been “hugely beneficial” to the engine he said.

Fortnite’s popular Battle Royale mode was an experiment conducted inside the larger experiment that was Fortnite, something Epic detailed in a talk at GDC this week.

Sweeney says that the company is learning a lot from the long process of building Fortnite and the relatively short creation time for the game’s Battle Royale mode.

“One of the lessons from Fortnite Battle Royale is that we spent years building a base game that was fun and achieved a base level of success,” he said. “Then we had a small team do an experiment which turned out to be a complete game changer for a whole game. Being able to experiment like that is important.”

Battle Royale went from concept to shipping in about two months, he said and it was clear relatively early on that it was going to be successful.

“About four weeks in we started conducting internal play tests and it was just magical,” Sweeney said. “It was like being in a Pixar movie and an action game and then there was this whole building dynamic.

“We saw it had potential at that point.”

But no one expected the level of success, he added.

While Epic hasn’t given out numbers recently, estimates suggest that just the mobile version of the game pulled in more than $1 million in its first three days on the app store. The game also recently broke the concurrent viewership on Twitch.

I asked Sweeney if he thinks that Fortnite is now the company’s most successful game.

“We worked released Gears of War games over a period of ten years,” he said. “But Fortnite is quite popular. More people have played it then have played Gears of War. There’s no barrier of entry (for Fortnite) anyone can get in it.”

While the Battle Royale mode receives most of the attention, Fortnite launched with its cooperative Save the World mode, something the team is still working on.

“We are putting a lot of effort into Save the World,” Sweeney said. “It’s a much bigger game and has a much larger content base. So progress there tends to be visibly slower than Battle Royale.”