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Epic Games taking smaller cut from Unreal asset makers, saying Fortnite’s success is why

Developers to get 88 percent, and that will be retroactive, too

Epic Games: Unreal Engine 4 logo 1280 Epic Games
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Fortnite’s landmark success has given Epic Games leeway to give developers a larger cut of the profits from its Unreal Engine Marketplace, the publisher announced this week. Those who sell products on the marketplace will now keep 88 percent, with Epic getting a 12 percent cut.

Moreover, Epic Games said it will be retroactively compensating developers. The Unreal Marketplace sells assets created by others for use in games building on the Unreal 4 engine. All of those products, going back to the store’s 2014 launch, will have the 88-12 split applied, meaning developers will be getting some cash back.

“Thanks to both the Marketplace’s growth and the success of Fortnite, Epic now conducts a huge volume of digital commerce,” Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “The resulting economies of scale enable us to pass the savings along to the Unreal Engine Marketplace community, while also making a healthy profit for Epic.”

Epic did not say exactly how much money would be retroactively returned to developers. The company did say instead that there have been 8 million downloads of products from the store since 2014 (with 1 million of those being free assets). Epic also touted a surge in developers using Unreal — one million new users since March for 6.3 million overall.

Originally, Epic took 30 percent of each sale. That 70-30 revenue split is taken as the standard of many online marketplaces, so Epic’s decision was complimented by developers not only for the monetary return to them, but also for setting a different standard. The Unreal Engine Marketplace launched about six months before Epic made the Unreal Engine free to use, with royalties expected on future sales (and developers or publishers of course free to negotiate individual agreements with Epic).

The Unreal Marketplace is comparatively small next to other companies’ online storefronts, like the iOS Store, Steam or Google Play — about 1,500 creators offering 5,000 products, according to Epic. So the pay increase could also be seen as an inducement to simply get more developers over to Epic’s platform.

Unreal 4 is the latest edition of a games engine dating to 1998 that was introduced with Unreal, the landmark first-person shooter that gave rise to the Unreal Tournament series.