It pays to have the most popular game in the world.
Epic Games, the creators of the runaway gaming smash hit Fortnite, have raised $1.25 billion in a new round of financing.
It’s been 20 years since Epic Games first released its Unreal game development engine in concert with its first person shooter, Unreal. Since then, the company has been releasing free-to-play games as a loss leader to show off what its powerful development toolkit can do.
Now, with the insane success of Fortnite, the company has flipped the script.
Since Fortnite became the thing that nearly every gamer in the world plays, the company has slashed prices on the Unreal game engine even as it keeps upgrading the technology.
And the company has been plowing that cash back into the community to support esports tournaments with a $100 million prize pool to support competitive Fortnite gamers.
The company’s game has become the kind of old-school cultural phenomenon that one rarely sees in the fractured age of internet silos. It’s inspired dance crazes, Halloween costumes, and even a Monopoly game and a Nerf gun.
And now it appears that the game has also inspired some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley’s venture capital investment scene to commit huge sums to continue its success.
Investors in the latest round include KKR, Iconiq Capital, Smash Ventures,Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins and Lightspeed Venture Partners, as well as gaming companies like aXiomatic, which announced a significant investment from the NBA legend Michael Jordan earlier in October.
The new investors are joining Tencent, Disney, and Endeavor as minority shareholders in the company — which amazingly still is controlled by its chief executive and founder, Tim Sweeney.
“Epic Games has fundamentally changed the model for interactive entertainment under the company’s visionary leadership,” said Ted Oberwager of KKR, in a statement.