Ten­cent buys a huge stake in Epic, and nu­mer­ous staffers leave


Jeremy Peel at PCGamesN pub­lished a great story in Jan­uary 2018 about the in­ter­nal strife that dogged Epic dur­ing its first post- Gears years. Essen­tially, shortly af­ter Fort­nite’s an­nounce­ment, Epic re­al­ized that the tra­di­tional busi­ness model of ship­ping a new game ev­ery two or three years was be­com­ing un­ten­able. Epic looked at the ridicu­lous suc­cess of Leagueof Legends, and wanted some­thing equally self-sus­tain­ing. So it part­nered with Ten­cent, the Chi­nese mul­ti­me­dia con­glom­er­ate, who pur­chased a 40 per­cent stake. The goal was to make Fort­nite Epic’s first games-as-a-ser­vice ini­tia­tive, a prod­uct that would gen­er­ate cash long af­ter re­lease.

The terms of the Ten­cent pur­chase were first re­ported in early 2013, and while this has never been con­firmed ex­plic­itly, it seems likely that the deal lead to a number of high-pro­file ex­its from Epic. Cliff Bleszin­ski was the first, and went on to found BossKey Pro­duc­tions, (who shipped great but doomed arena shooter LawBreak­ers last year.) He was fol­lowed by former pres­i­dent Mike Capps, who said he was re­tir­ing from the in­dus­try al­to­gether. We’ll prob­a­bly never know what ex­actly hap­pened in the in­terim years, but, well, from the out­side it didn’t seem par­tic­u­larly happy.

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