Tim Sweeney, the billionaire founder of Epic Games Inc., is offering $100 million in grants to game developers, with no strings attached, to help promote the industry.
A longtime but low-profile presence in the video-game business, Sweeney burst onto the international stage with the success of Fortnite, a free-to-play shooting game that has drawn more than 200 million players worldwide.
In a presentation Wednesday at the Game Developers Conference, a trade show for video-game designers in San Francisco, Sweeney made it clear his company is more than a one-shot deal. Epic owns the Unreal Engine, game-design software that he said will play an increasing role in not just video games but also movies and other creative endeavors. Epic also recently launched a game store that takes a smaller share of customer purchases than app stores run by Apple and Google.
In line with the broad goals for the Unreal Engine, the Epic MegaGrants are available beyond game developers to filmmakers, educators and creators of "open-source projects that in any way benefit the whole digital content creation ecosystem," Epic said in a statement. The program builds on an earlier $5 million grant program, which just ended.
Sweeney isn't requiring grant recipients to use either the Unreal Engine or the Epic Store. "There are no commercial hooks back to Epic," Sweeney said. "You don't have to commit to any deliverables. This is our way of sharing Fortnite's unbelievable success with as many developers as we can."
Last year Cary, North Carolina-based Epic raised $1.25 billion from investors including KKR & Co., Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins and esports startup AXiomatic Gaming.
The company last year launched a $100 million esports prize pool for Fortnite competitions, which were open to amateurs and professional players alike.