Epic's upcoming building action game Fortnite was announced as a PC-exclusive affair. Does this mean Epic is no longer interested in developing for consoles?
"No. I think it was more about the timing of the original development schedule," said the game's lead designer Darren Sugg when I asked him about this at an Epic press event in North Carolina.
"It was still a little unsure about where the next generation of consoles were going to land with iterative and free-to-play games. PC just allowed us to push patches and push updates quicker and do heavy iteration. At the time we were conceiving of the project, that was why."
But will Fortnite eventually come to consoles? Sugg stopped short of confirming a console version was in development, but said changes Sony and Microsoft made with the jump to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One meant they were more appropriate platforms for a free-to-play game like Fortnite.
"Things have changed from the console space and have adapted to the new market, which is cool," Sugg said. "So because of those adaptations the future for where Fortnite ends up is not set in stone. I think there's lots of possibilities about how you can interact with Fortnite on different platforms."
Of course this isn't the same as a console version announcement, but it suggests hope for this new generation of platforms. But will Epic want to spend the time and resources to do this to its upcoming free-to-play game? It's got another Unreal Tournament game and god knows what else on its plate. So how important is Fortnite to the ever-evolving studio?
"We are currently the biggest team in the organisation," Sugg told me. "Fortnite has actually been the company's primary focus for quite a while. We do have the lion's share of the development teams. We're working with EGP (Epic Games Poland), we have engineers in Epic Seattle, and obviously we've got tons of guys here at HQ, so we're definitely the biggest project that Epic is currently on. But as we're a living project, the studio's going to have to force-trade guys over time."
When asked for a rough estimate as to Fortnite's overall team size, Sugg said it was about 90 people. Beyond that, he admitted he didn't actually know how big the company was beyond "several hundred".
"We're adding people as we're growing quite aggressively," he noted.
Elsewhere, Sugg confirmed that Fortnite won't launch on Steam Early Access. Instead it will have its own client, at least in the early phases while it tests things in beta, which Epic is aiming to get out by the end of the year.
Epic has seen a number of changes over the last couple of years. High profile higher ups such as previous Gears senior producer Rod Fergusson and Cliff Bleszinski left in 2012. Ex-president Mike Capps retired in December 2012. In January 2014 Epic announced it had sold the Gears of War franchise to Microsoft.
Sugg pointed out that the company is still being managed by founder Tim Sweeney, who he places a lot of trust in, as Epic transitions to its fourth iteration.
"Tim Sweeney is still at the helm. He's been at the helm since the beginning and he's continuing to drive the boat," Sugg stated.
"Epic has gone through four major revisions. The first version of the company was a shareware company. That was phase one. 2.0 of that moved them into PC developers with Unreal. The third version of the company was console developers and that's where the major focus was. And now, as we move into Epic 4.0, that's us getting into the full on online games as a service. That's sort of where we're going to be living. So although things have changed, I wouldn't say it's actually that aberrant for Epic as a company to be evolving.
"Tim, as a technologist, has a strong idea where things are going in the industry, so he's always looking to move and make that evolution. So our evolution into being a more online-focuses with more direct engagement with the community just feels like this is the next evolution of where Epic is going to go."