Executive Insights

The billionaire behind 'Fortnite' has played over 1,600 matches without anyone knowing it was him

Business Insider US

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney.
Rachel Luna / Getty Images
  • "Fortnite" is one of the most popular games all over the world, with hundreds of millions of players.
  • One of those hundreds of millions of players, it turns out, is Epic Games' billionaire CEO Tim Sweeney. He has logged over 1,600 games of the Battle Royale giant, he told NPR.
  • "I just go play randomly with groups of people and they have no idea who I am and we just have a good time together," Sweeney said. 
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

The next time you clutch a victory royale from the jaws of defeat, it could be a win stolen from the billionaire who runs "Fortnite" maker Epic Games.

Tim Sweeney, who founded and runs Epic Games, has logged over 1,600 matches of "Fortnite," he said in a new interview with NPR.

"I have a name that nobody knows," he said. "I just go play randomly with groups of people and they have no idea who I am and we just have a good time together."

Sweeney's work at Epic has made him extremely wealthy over the last several decades, to the tune of around $5.3 billion (around R260 billion), according to Forbes estimates.

That's due in part to the blockbuster success of "Fortnite," which rakes in billions annually, but also due to the company's long history of success in the video game business. Epic Games has created a variety of major game franchises, including "Unreal Tournament" and "Gears of War," in addition to the production and oversight of the widely used Unreal Engine game creation software suite.

But "Fortnite" has been the company's biggest hit by far, and its success even spurred the creation of a new digital storefront: the Epic Games Store.

That storefront, and Epic's massive success with "Fortnite," have been at the forefront of an ongoing legal spat with Apple.

The game was outright kicked off the iPhone and iPad App Store on August 13, and it's not coming back anytime soon — a judge partially sided with Apple in an initial hearing, which keeps the games off iPhones and iPads for the foreseeable future.

Worse, the game can't be updated. Anyone playing "Fortnite" on iPhone or iPad isn't able to play the game's current season, which started on August 27, nor are they able to play with friends on other platforms.

And that's all because, also on August 13, Epic added a new payment option to the game.

The new option said "Epic direct payment." Instead of paying Apple, then Apple paying "Fortnite" maker Epic Games, you could pay Epic directly and it cost less for the same thing.

By doing this, Epic intentionally circumvented paying Apple and Google their respective cut of goods sold through their digital storefronts: 30%, an industry standard for digital platform holders like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and others.

In response, Epic sued Apple and Google. During the interview with NPR, Sweeney characterised the 30% cut Apple and Google take as exploitation, and referred to them both as monopolies.

"It's not just Epic being exploited by Apple," he said, "but it's every developer who goes along with that scheme colluding with Apple and Google to further their monopoly. These stores are making a lot more money from creative works than the creators."

Epic's own digital storefront, the Epic Games Store, takes a 12% cut from digital sales on both Mac and PC. 

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