Epic Games

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Epic Games, Inc.
Formerly called
  • Potomac Computer Systems (1991)
  • Epic MegaGames, Inc. (1991–1999)
Private
Industry Video game industry
Founded 1991; 26 years ago (1991) in Potomac, Maryland, U.S.[1]
Founders
Headquarters Cary, North Carolina, U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
  • Tim Sweeney (CEO)
  • Mark Rein (VP)
Owner Tencent (40%)[2]
Number of employees
250[3] (2016)
Subsidiaries
  • Chair Entertainment
  • Epic Games Berlin
  • Epic Games Japan
  • Epic Games Korea
  • Epic Games Seattle
  • Epic Games UK
Website epicgames.com

Epic Games, Inc. (formerly Potomac Computer Systems and later Epic MegaGames, Inc.) is an American video game development company based in Cary, North Carolina, partially owned by Tencent. Founded in 1991, it is best known for the development of Unreal Engine technology, which has powered its in-house Unreal, Gears of War and Infinity Blade series as well as many other games, and has been awarded by Guinness World Records as the "most successful video game engine".[4]

It is the parent company of game developer Chair Entertainment, and also owns game studios in Seattle, Gerrards Cross, Berlin, Tokyo, and Seoul. Key developers at Epic Games include chairman, CEO and technical director Tim Sweeney, lead programmer Steve Polge and art director Chris Perna.[5][6][7]

History[edit]

Potomac Computer Systems (1991)[edit]

Epic Games was founded as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991 by Tim Sweeney in his parents' house in Potomac, Maryland.[1] Initially planned to be a computer consulting firm, the company released its first product, ZZT, the same year, which Sweeney worked on while studying mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland.[1]

Epic MegaGames (1991–1999)[edit]

During the latter portion of ZZT's life span, Potomac Computer Systems became Epic MegaGames and subsequently released numerous popular shareware games, including Overkill, Tyrian, Epic Pinball, Brix, Dare to Dream, Jill of the Jungle, Kiloblaster, Xargon, Solar Winds, Ken's Labyrinth, Jazz Jackrabbit, Radix: Beyond the Void, and One Must Fall: 2097. During this time, Epic also published and sold games developed by other developers such as those by Safari Software and also XLand's Adventures of Robbo, Heartlight, and Electro Man; and Renaissance's Zone 66.

In 1996, Epic MegaGames produced a shareware isometric shooter called Fire Fight, developed by Polish studio Chaos Works. It was later released commercially by Electronic Arts. A year later, Safari Software was acquired in whole by Epic MegaGames and some of their titles as well as other pre-1998 games were sold under the Epic Classics brand until late 2012. In 1998, Epic MegaGames released Unreal, a 3D first-person shooter co-developed with Digital Extremes, which expanded into a series of Unreal games. The company also began to license the core technology, the Unreal Engine, to other game developers.

Epic Games (1999–present)[edit]

In February 1999, IGN reported that the company had changed its name to Epic Games and that it had moved its Rockville office to Cary, North Carolina.[8] Mark Rein, vice president of Epic, explained the decision to move: "Unreal was first created by developers who were scattered across the world," he said. "Eventually, the team came together to finish the game and that's when the real magic started. The move to North Carolina centralizes Epic, bringing all of the company's talented developers under one roof."[8]

The company launched the Make Something Unreal competition in 2004, aiming to reward video game developers who create mods using the Unreal game engine. Tripwire Interactive won US$80,000 in cash and computer hardware prizes over the course of the contest in the first contest in 2004.[9][10] In 2006, Epic released the Xbox 360 shooter Gears of War, which became a commercial success for the company, grossing about $100 million.[11][12] A year later, the company released Unreal Tournament 3 for PC and acquired a majority share in People Can Fly.[13][14]

In 2008, Epic Games acquired Utah based Chair Entertainment and released Gears of War 2,[15][16] which sold over three million copies within the first month of its release.[17] Summer 2009 saw the launch of Chair Entertainment's Shadow Complex, an adventure game inspired by the Metroid series.[18]

The Malcolm statue from the Unreal series at Epic, 2015

Epic Games released on September 1, 2010 Epic Citadel as a tech demo to demonstrate the Unreal Engine 3 running on Apple iOS, within Adobe Flash Player Stage3D and using HTML5 WebGL technologies. It was also released for Android on January 29, 2013. Epic Games worked on an iOS game, Infinity Blade,[19] which was released on December 9, 2010.[20] The third game in the series, Gears of War 3, came out in 2011.[21]

In 2011, Epic's subsidiary Titan Studios was dissolved.[22] At the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, Epic Games announced their new game Fortnite.[23]

In June 2012, Epic announced that it is opening up a new studio, Epic Baltimore, made up of members of 38 Studios' Big Huge Games.[24] Epic Baltimore was renamed to Impossible Studios in August 2012.[25] However, the studio ended up closing its doors in February 2013.[26][27]

In June 2012, Chinese company Tencent Holdings acquired approximately 48.4% of Epic then issued share capital, equating to 40 percent of total Epic — inclusive of both stock and employee stock options, for $330 million. Tencent Holdings has the right to nominate directors to the board of Epic Games and thus counts as an associate of the Group.[2] A number of high-profile staff left the company months after the deal was announced.[28] In October 2012, Cliff Bleszinski, then the design director, announced he was leaving Epic Games after 20 years with the company. His official reason was "It's time for a much needed break".[29] Later in December 2012, Epic Games president Mike Capps announced his retirement and cited the reasons as the arrival of a baby boy he was having with his wife and his plans to be a stay-at-home dad.[30] He subsequently announced his departure of his advisory role as well as his affiliation with the company in March 2013.[31]

The Epic headquarters building in Cary, North Carolina, 2016

On January 27, 2014, Microsoft acquired the Gears of War IP from Epic Games. The first game since the acquisition, Gears of War 4, was released by The Coalition in October 2016, taking over the development duties from Epic.[32]

On May 8, 2014, Epic Games announced a new Unreal Tournament title. The game will be free, open to modding, and essentially developed alongside fans.[33][34]

In June 2015, Epic Games Poland reverted to People Can Fly Sp. z o.o. after Epic Games sold its share in the Polish studio. The Bulletstorm IP was retained by People Can Fly who has since launched a remastered version called Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition on April 7, 2017, published by Gearbox Software.[35][36] On November 4, 2015, Epic Games announced a new third-person multiplayer online battle arena game called Paragon. The game was slated for release in 2016, for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4, with playable characters expected to be unveiled gradually throughout November.[37] A month later, Shadow Complex Remastered was launched for free on PC, with console versions being released in early 2016.[38] A physical version of the remaster was available for PS4 in August 2016.[39]

Early 2017 saw the release of Robo Recall, the company's first game for virtual reality, on the Oculus Rift.[40] The game received an 8.5 out of 10 rating from IGN.[41] On July 25, Fortnite entered paid early access, with a full free-to-play release expected in 2018.[42]

Technology[edit]

Epic is the proprietor of four successful game engines in the video game industry. Each Unreal Engine has a complete feature set of graphical rendering, sound processing, and physics that can be widely adapted to fit the specific needs of a game developer that does not want to code its own engine from scratch. The four engines Epic has created are the Unreal Engine 1, Unreal Engine 2 (including its 2.5 and 2.X releases), Unreal Engine 3, and Unreal Engine 4.

Litigation[edit]

In 2007, Canadian game studio Silicon Knights sued Epic Games for failure to "provide a working game engine", causing the Ontario-based game developer to "experience considerable losses." The suit alleged that Epic Games was "sabotaging" Unreal Engine 3 licensees. Epic's licensing document stated that a working version of the engine would be available within six months of the Xbox 360 developer kits being released. Silicon Knights claimed that Epic not only missed this deadline, but that when a working version of the engine was eventually released, the documentation was insufficient. The game studio also claimed Epic had withheld vital improvements to the game engine, claiming they were "game specific", while also using licensing fees to fund development of its own titles rather than the engine itself.[43]

On August 9, 2007, Epic Games counter-sued Silicon Knights, claiming that it was using its engine without paying royalties.[44] On May 30, 2012, Epic Games defeated Silicon Knights' lawsuit, and won its counter-suit for $4.45 million on grounds of copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of contract.[45] Consistent with Epic's counterclaims, the presiding judge stated that Silicon Knights had "deliberately and repeatedly copied thousands of lines of Epic Games' copyrighted code, and then attempted to conceal its wrongdoing by removing Epic Games' copyright notices and by disguising Epic Games' copyrighted code as Silicon Knights' own."[46]

As a result, on November 7, 2012, Silicon Knights was directed by the court to destroy all game code derived from Unreal Engine 3, all information from licensee-restricted areas of Epic's Unreal Engine documentation website, and to permit Epic Games access to the company's servers and other devices to ensure these items have been removed. In addition, the studio was instructed to recall and destroy all unsold retail copies of games built with Unreal Engine 3 code, including Too Human, X-Men Destiny, The Sandman, The Box/Ritualyst, and Siren in the Maelstrom (the latter three titles were projects never released, or even officially announced).[47]

On May 16, 2014, following the loss of the court case, Silicon Knights filed for bankruptcy and a Certificate of Appointment was issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, with Collins Barrow Toronto Limited being appointed as Trustee in Bankruptcy.[48]

Subsidiaries and divisions[edit]

Inside Epic Games Berlin, 2017

Games[edit]

Games developed and/or published[edit]

Year Title Platform Developer(s) Publisher(s)
1991 ZZT MS-DOS Potomac Computer Systems Potomac Computer Systems
1992 Brix MS-DOS Epic MegaGames MicroLeague Interactive Software
OverKill MS-DOS Tech-Noir Epic MegaGames
Kiloblaster MS-DOS Epic MegaGames Epic MegaGames
Jill of the Jungle MS-DOS Epic MegaGames Epic MegaGames
1993 Epic Pinball MS-DOS Digital Extremes Epic MegaGames
Zone 66 MS-DOS Renaissance Epic MegaGames
Solar Winds MS-DOS Stone Interactive Media Epic MegaGames
Castle of the Winds Microsoft Windows SaadaSoft Epic MegaGames
Dare to Dream Microsoft Windows Epic MegaGames Epic MegaGames
Electro Man MS-DOS X LanD Computer Games Epic MegaGames, X LanD Computer Games
Ancients 1: Death Watch MS-DOS Farr-Ware Software Epic MegaGames
Robbo MS-DOS X LanD Computer Games Epic MegaGames, LK Avalon
Xargon MS-DOS Epic MegaGames Epic MegaGames
1994 Ancients II: Approaching Evil MS-DOS Farr-Ware Software Epic MegaGames
Heartlight MS-DOS X LanD Computer Games Epic MegaGames, X LanD Computer Games
Jazz Jackrabbit MS-DOS Epic MegaGames Epic MegaGames
Highway Hunter MS-DOS Omega Integral Systems Safari Software, Epic MegaGames
Traffic Department 2192 MS-DOS P-Squared Productions Safari Software, Epic MegaGames
1995 Tyrian MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows Eclipse Software Epic MegaGames
Radix: Beyond the Void MS-DOS Neutral Storm Entertainment Epic MegaGames
1996 Seek & Destroy MS-DOS, Amiga, Amiga CD32, Nintendo 64 Vision Software, Silicon Dreams Konami of America, Epic MegaGames, Safari Software, Mindscape, THQ, Bawler & Collins Multimedia
Fire Fight Microsoft Windows Chaos Works, Epic MegaGames, Electronic Arts
1998 Unreal Microsoft Windows, Mac OS Epic MegaGames, Digital Extremes, Legend Entertainment GT Interactive
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Microsoft Windows, Mac OS Orange Games, Epic MegaGames Gathering of Developers
1999 Age of Wonders Microsoft Windows Triumph Studios, Epic MegaGames Gathering of Developers
Unreal Tournament Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast Epic Games, Digital Extremes GT Interactive, Infogrames
2002 Unreal Championship Xbox Epic Games, Digital Extremes Infogrames
Unreal Tournament 2003 Microsoft Windows, OS X Epic Games, Digital Extremes Infogrames
2004 Unreal Tournament 2004 Microsoft Windows, OS X Epic Games, Digital Extremes, Psyonix, Streamline Studios Atari
2005 Unreal Championship 2 Xbox Epic Games Midway Games
2006 Gears of War Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 Epic Games Microsoft Game Studios
2007 Unreal Tournament 3 Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, OnLive Epic Games Midway Games
2008 Gears of War 2 Xbox 360 Epic Games Microsoft Game Studios
2009 Shadow Complex Xbox 360 Chair Entertainment, Epic Games Microsoft Game Studios
2010 Infinity Blade iOS Chair Entertainment, Epic Games Epic Games
2011 Bulletstorm Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 People Can Fly, Epic Games Electronic Arts
Gears of War 3 Xbox 360 Epic Games Microsoft Studios
Infinity Blade 2 iOS Chair Entertainment, Epic Games Epic Games
2013 Gears of War: Judgement Xbox 360 Epic Games, People Can Fly Microsoft Studios
Infinity Blade 3 iOS Chair Entertainment, Epic Games Epic Games
2015 Shadow Complex Remastered Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 Chair Entertainment, Epic Games Epic Games
2016 Paragon Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 Epic Games Epic Games
2017 Robo Recall Oculus Rift Epic Games Epic Games
Fortnite Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Epic Games, People Can Fly Epic Games
Battle Breakers[59] Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows Epic Games Epic Games
TBA Unreal Tournament Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux Epic Games Epic Games
Spyjinx[60] Microsoft Windows Chair Entertainment, Epic Games Epic Games

Cancelled[edit]

  • Bulletstorm 2[61]
  • Gears of War: Exile[62]
  • Infinity Blade Dungeons[63]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]