Epic Games, Inc., additionally known as Epic and formerly Epic MegaGames, is an American video game development company based in Cary, North Carolina, and partially owned by Tencent Holdings, which is one of the largest internet & video gaming companies in China.[3] They are well known for their Unreal Engine technology, which has powered their popular in-house Unreal series of first-person shooters, and the Gears of War series for the Xbox 360.

It is the parent company of game developer Chair Entertainment. It has additionally set up studios in Berlin, Shanghai,[4] Seattle, Seoul, Tokyo, and the United Kingdom. Key developers at Epic Games include chairman, CEO and technical director Tim Sweeney, and lead programmer Steve Polge. Jerry O'Flaherty was the studio art director from 2003 to 2007. Chris Perna has been the art director after O'Flaherty's departure from the company. Cliff Bleszinski, Epic's design director, announced his departure on October 3, 2012.

History

Epic MegaGames (1991–1999)

Epic Games was initially founded under the name of 'Potomac Computer Systems' in 1991 by Tim Sweeney in Rockville, Maryland, releasing its flagship product, ZZT, the same year. During the latter portion of ZZT's life span, the company became known as 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 additionally published and sold games developed by additional developers such as those by Safari Software and additionally XLand's 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 Chaos Works.[5] It was later released commercially by Electronic Arts.

In 1997, Safari Software was acquired in whole by Epic MegaGames and a few of their titles as well as additional 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 additionally began to licence the core technology, the Unreal Engine, to additional game developers.

Epic Games (1999–present)

In 1999, the company changed its name to Epic Games and moved its offices, including its Rockville headquarters, to Cary, North Carolina. In 2006, Epic released the Xbox 360 and PC bestseller Gears of War and completed work on Unreal Tournament 3 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

On May 20, 2008, Epic Games acquired Utah based Chair Entertainment.

In summer 2009, Epic released the Chair developed Shadow Complex on Xbox Live Arcade. On November 7, 2008, Epic Games released Gears of War 2, the sequel to their bestselling game Gears of War, which continues the storey of humanity's struggle against the Locust Horde.

Epic worked on an iOS game Infinity Blade[6] which was released on December 9, 2010.[7] They additionally released Gears of War 3, the third game in the Gears of War series on September 20, 2011.[8]

In 2011, Epic's subsidiary Titan Studios was dissolved.[9]

At the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, Epic Games announced their new game Fortnite.

In June 2012, Epic announced that they were opening up a new studio, Epic Baltimore, made up of members of 38 Studios' Big Huge Games.[10] Epic Baltimore was renamed to Impossible Studios in August 2012.[2] Notwithstanding the studio ended up closing its doors in February 2013.[2]

In July 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.[3][2][14] A number of high-profile staff left the company months after the deal was announced.[2]

In October 2012, Cliff Bleszinski announced he was leaving Epic Games after 20 years with the company. His official reason was "It’s time for a much needed break".[14][2]

In December 2012, Epic Games president Mike Capps announced his retirement and cite the reasons as the arrival of a baby boy he's having with his wife and his plans to be a stay-at-home-dad.[2] He subsequently announced his departure of his advisory role as well as his affiliation with the company in March 2013.[2][2]

In February 2013, Impossible Studios was closed, less than a year after its opening.[2]

On January 27, 2014, Microsoft acquired the Gears of War IP from Epic Games. The first game after the acquisition (Gears of War 4) will be released by The Coalition, taking over the development duties from Epic.[20]

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.[21][22]

On November 4, 2015, Epic Games announced a new third person MOBA game called Paragon. The game is slated for release in early 2016, for PC and PlayStation 4, with playable characters expected to be unveiled gradually throughout November.[23]

Litigation

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." Silicon Knights' suit alleged that Epic Games was "sabotaging" Unreal Engine 3 licensees. Epic's licencing 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. They additionally claimed Epic had withheld vital improvements to the game engine, claiming they were "game specific", while additionally using licencing fees to fund development of their own titles rather than the engine itself.[24]

On August 9, 2007, Epic Games counter-sued Silicon Knights, claiming that they were using its engine without paying royalties.[25] 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.[26] 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."[27]

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 additional devices to ensure these items have been removed. In addition, they were 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).[28]

On May 16, 2014, following the loss of the court case, Silicon Knights was sued until it 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.[29]

Subsidiaries

  • In 2007, Epic Games acquired a majority shareholding in Polish developer People Can Fly,[4] which was later rebranded itself as Epic Games Poland on November 1, 2013.[4] Notwithstanding on June 24, 2015 it was announced they had become once again independent, no longer making them a subsidiary of Epic Games.[32]
  • On May 20, 2008, Epic Games acquired Chair Entertainment.[33]
  • In 2008, a Chinese division, Epic Games China, was opened in Shanghai.[4] It is through this division that Epic owns Titan Studios.[4] Titan Studios was dissolved in July 2011 and Epic Games China has after been renamed Yingpei Games.[9]
  • Another studio, Epic Games Korea, established in 2009, operates in Seoul, South Korea.[4][4]
  • Epic Games Seattle was established in 2012. Epic Games Seattle is focused on virtual and mixed reality, building online architecture for large-scale games and supports Unreal Engine developers.
  • Epic Games Japan, which is based in Tokyo, is used for game engine licencing and support.
  • Epic Games UK Formed in August 2014 from an expansion of partner studio Pitbull Studio. Epic Games UK has offices in Guildford, Newcastle, and Royal Leamington Spa areas[4]
  • Epic Games Berlin, was established as a publishing office in 2016. Epic Games Berlin further expands the company’s global reach, with a focus on Europe and Russia.

Technology

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 doesn't 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, Epic's latest release.

Current and past franchises

Games developed or published

YearTitlePlatformDeveloperPublisherGame Engine
1991ZZTMS-DOSPotomac Computer SystemsEpic MegaGamesN/A
1991BrixDOSEpic MegaGamesMicroleague Interactive SoftwareN/A
1992OverkillMS-DOSTech-Noir ProductionsEpic MegaGamesN/A
1992KiloblasterMicrosoft Windows, Xbox 360Epic MegaGamesEpic MegaGames, Moon DoggieN/A
1992Jill of the JungleDOSEpic MegaGamesEpic MegaGamesN/A
1993Ken's LabyrinthMicrosoft WindowsKen SilvermanEpic MegaGamesN/A
1993Epic PinballMS-DOSDigital ExtremesEpic MegaGamesN/A
1993Zone 66MS-DOSRenaissance GamesEpic MegaGamesN/A
1993Solar WindsMS-DOSStone InteractiveEpic MegaGamesN/A
1993Dare to DreamMicrosoft WindowsEpic MegaGamesEpic MegaGamesN/A
1993Electro ManMS-DOSxLand GamesEpic MegaGames, xLand GamesN/A
1993Ancients 1: Death WatchMS-DOSFarr-WareEpic MegaGames, Farr-WareN/A
1993RobboDOSxLand GamesEpic MegaGames, xLand GamesN/A
1994HeartlightMS-DOSxLand GamesEpic MegaGamesN/A
1994Jazz JackrabbitMS-DOSEclipse SoftwareEpic MegaGamesN/A
1994Highway HunterMS-DOSOmega Integral SystemsSafari Software, Epic MegaGamesN/A
1994Traffic Department 2192DOSP-Squared ProductionsSafari Software, Epic MegaGamesN/A
1995TyrianDOS, WindowsEpic MegaGamesEpic MegaGamesN/A
1995Radix: Beyond the VoidDOSNeutral Storm EntertainmentEpic MegaGamesN/A
1996Seek & DestroyMS-DOS, Amiga, Amiga CD32, Nintendo 64Vision Software, Silicon DreamsKonami of America, Epic MegaGames, Safari Software, Mindscape, THQ, Bawler & Collins MultimediaN/A
1998UnrealMicrosoft Windows, Mac OSEpic MegaGames, Digital Extremes, Legend EntertainmentGT InteractiveUnreal Engine
1998Castle of the WindsMicrosoft WindowsSaadaSoftEpic MegaGamesN/A
1998Jazz Jackrabbit 2Microsoft Windows, Mac OSOrange Games, Epic MegaGamesGathering of DevelopersN/A
1999Unreal TournamentMicrosoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Playstation 2, DreamcastEpic Games, Digital ExtremesGT Interactive, InfogramesUnreal Engine
1999Age of WondersMicrosoft WindowsTriumph Studios, Epic MegaGamesGathering of DevelopersN/A
2002Unreal ChampionshipXboxEpic Games, Digital ExtremesAtariUnreal Engine
2002Unreal Tournament 2003Microsoft Windows, OS XEpic Games, Digital ExtremesAtariUnreal Engine
2004Unreal Tournament 2004Microsoft Windows, OS XEpic Games, Digital Extremes, Psyonix, Streamline StudiosAtariUnreal Engine
2005Unreal Championship 2XboxEpic GamesMidway GamesUnreal Engine
2006Gears of WarMicrosoft Windows, Xbox 360Epic GamesMicrosoft StudiosUnreal Engine
2007Unreal Tournament 3Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, OnLiveEpic GamesMidway GamesUnreal Engine
2008Gears of War 2Xbox 360Epic GamesMicrosoft StudiosUnreal Engine
2009Shadow ComplexMicrosoft Windows, Xbox 360Chair Entertainment, Epic GamesMicrosoft StudiosUnreal Engine
2010Infinity BladeiOSChair Entertainment, Epic GamesEpic GamesUnreal Engine
2011BulletstormMicrosoft Windows, Xbox 360, Playstation 3People Can Fly, Epic GamesElectronic ArtsUnreal Engine
2011Gears of War 3Xbox 360Epic GamesMicrosoft StudiosUnreal Engine
2011Infinity Blade 2iOSChair Entertainment, Epic GamesEpic GamesUnreal Engine
2013Gears of War: JudgementXbox 360Epic Games, People Can FlyMicrosoft StudiosUnreal Engine
2013Infinity Blade 3iOSChair Entertainment, Epic GamesEpic GamesUnreal Engine
2016ParagonMicrosoft Windows, Playstation 4Epic GamesEpic GamesUnreal Engine
2017FortniteMicrosoft Windows, OS XEpic Games, People Can FlyEpic GamesUnreal Engine
TBAUnreal Tournament (upcoming video game)Microsoft Windows, OS X, LinuxEpic GamesEpic GamesUnreal Engine

Awards and recognition

Due to the success of Gears of War, the studio was awarded: