Fortnite creators create studios to build ambitious, branded worlds

Fortnite creators create studios to build ambitious, branded worlds

Last year, Fortnite Developer Epic Games has launched a major partnership with haute couture house Balenciaga. Along with a collection of skins adorned with Balenciaga gear available for purchase, Epic also promoted a Balenciaga-themed area for players to visit. It looked like a virtual city square fallen into Fortnitebut at its heart was a recreation of a Balenciaga retail store.

It’s an awesome world, and it almost feels like being ripped from the Fortnite battle royale island. But it was actually made by just three creators who work full time. Fortnite Creative experts who have created their own company to create game worlds for brands.

“The fact that I can make games now with a team of almost 10 people and we all do it for a living, I think is pretty impressive,” Kasper Weber, a Fortnite creator, said in an interview with The edge. “I don’t think my parents would ever think that would be a thing.”

Weber is co-founder and CEO of Beyond Creative. “Beyond builds unique experiences within Fortnite“, says the company on its website. “We bring our clients’ ideas to life using the powerful Fortnite Creative platform. The company lists an impressive selection of customers, including Verizon, the NFL, Nvidia, AMD, and even Chipotle.

Beyond Creative isn’t the only company doing this kind of work. I spoke with three other groups of people working in full-time remote teams doing branding Fortnite Creative worlds. TeamUnite is responsible for a whole in-Fortnite RPG based on the movie The man from the north. Alliance Studios worked on Grubhub and grave robber-thematic worlds, among others. Zen Creative worked with other creators on a recent concert featuring Brazilian rapper Emicida, which took place in a series of changing virtual locations.

The Fortnite However, creative maps aren’t just awesome outlets for building a virtual world; making them has proven to be very lucrative for the companies I’ve spoken to. According to Simon Bell, co-owner and artistic director of Alliance Studios, a contract can range from “four to six figures” depending on the scope of the work. And he estimated projects can last anywhere from two weeks to six months, depending on what the team needs to do. “It’s definitely been a very successful avenue for us,” said Mackenzie Jackson, co-owner and creative director of Alliance Studios.

Creators can probably command such large contracts partly because players are playing more and more Fortnite Creative cards. According to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, “about half of Fortnite users’ playtime is now in content created by others, and half is in Epic content,” he said in an interview with fast business. Epic Games declined to be interviewed for this article.

But creative creators also rely on revenue from Epic’s Support-A-Creator program. With this program, qualified groups or individuals get a “creator code” that people can enter into the Fortnite item store. All purchases made while this code is active support the group or individual represented by the code. (Creator Codes can also be used in rocket league store and Epic Games Store.)

For the Fortnite groups I’ve spoken to, creator codes can be an inefficient way to get revenue because they have to find ways to convince people to enter the code. In some maps I’ve played, however, there’s a prompt at the start that lets you redeem the code by just pressing a few buttons. But creators don’t get a big chunk of what’s purchased. In Fortnitecreators earn 5% of the value of in-game purchases made using their creator code, Epic says on its website.

In an FAQ, Epic lays out some examples of how payments could work – and explicitly warns creators to “expect modest results”:

WILL THIS PROGRAM ENRICH CREATORS?

Please expect modest results. The amount you win depends on the number of players who choose to support you. A Fortnite example: If your in-game supporters spend 50,000 V-Bucks in-game, you’ll earn $25 USD. An Epic Games Store example: If your fans buy $100 worth of games, you’ll earn $5 (at the base rate funded by Epic).

And in order to be able to withdraw money from the system, you must have earned $100 over a period of 12 months.

So far, brand deals seem like a more efficient way to build a business for the creators I’ve spoken to. “I would say the deals with brands are more sustainable at the moment,” said R-leeo Maoate, director of Zen Creative. “Sometimes we have gaps where we don’t get as much [many people playing our maps], resulting in less revenue. So we try not to rely on Support-A-Creator. We rely more on brand deals.

Some teams have told me they wish they had more monetization options. Currently, the Support-A-Creator code is the only in-Fortnite way for creators to make money, but competitors like Roblox and Meta allow creators to monetize things like custom virtual items.

Maoate also explained how your experience manifests in Fortnite can make the difference. “You must be [on] the main front-page discovery page in order to earn some revenue,” he said.

Although it is several years old, it seems that we are only in the early days with Fortnite Creative. The mode was released in December 2018, but Epic updates it frequently to add major new tools and features. For example, Johnny Lohe, one of the co-founders of Alliance, told me how Epic recently added the ability to modulate water levels. And many of the groups I interviewed discussed an expected major update they called “Creative 2.0”.

Epic shared a brief overview of the improved tools in its 2020 review video for Unreal Engine. “These are the same tools our developers use to put the game itself together,” Epic’s Zak Parrish said in the video. “Our goal is to give you the same kind of power, the same set of tools, that we use to bring Fortnite to you season after season. Epic also demonstrated a scripting language that creators could use to customize their creative experiences even more granularly.

The tools could be coming soon, Sweeney told fast business. “Later this year, we will be releasing the Unreal Editor for Fortnite – all the features you have seen [in Unreal Engine] open so anyone can create super high quality game content and code…and deploy it in Fortnite without having to make an agreement with us, it’s open to everyone.

And there are hints that Epic might also introduce more monetization tools, also based on Sweeney’s comments. In response to a series of tweets in April, discuss from Fortnite 5% discount to creators, Sweeney tweeted: “Epic is already working on versions 2 and 3 of the Fortnite creator economy. Expect big changes throughout the year.

He followed up with a short tweet suggesting that Epic has bigger ambitions. “It’s a longer path to the open metaverse,” he said. “The next steps will be nice but are not the Holy Grail.”



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