Let us take a quick look at Epic Games and what has been happening there, because it almost seems like something stinky might be brewing behind the closed windows and doors. Of course, the big news today is that the president of the company, Mike Capps is stepping down after a decade of service. That is not that remarkable in itself, if you are not aware that there have been suspiciously many such moves from Epic, as of late.
Barely a month ago, another big name left the company in Cliff Bleszinski. As hugely annoying as that dude could be, he created some decent waves in the industry, on occasion, making his departure somewhat of a shock.
That somewhat took the spotlight away from the departure of Rodd Fergusson, the producer of Gears of War, who also left around that time. And shortly before that, there was yet another major exodus, which included a key Gears figure (especially Gears 3) Lee Perry and a bunch of important guys from People Can Fly: Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki. And if all of that wasn’t enough, the company has recently brought in its’ first outside investor in a China-based Tencent Holdings.
The most interesting part of it all is the timing. Epic recently went into a fresh direction with Fortnite, to please the Gears burnouts, it has also just showcased the next iteration of their massively popular Unreal engine and the industry is… uh gearing up for the next generation of consoles. Seems like a pretty darn important and exciting time for the company, any company.
So who farted?
Well, there are only two reasons any management would abandon a company at a time like this. One is that things are going down the shitter fast over there, which is possible, considering the outside investor but would be highly surprising considering all the success Epic has enjoyed this generation. Another, more likely possibility is that someone else is taking the reigns a little too aggressively. Perhaps the Tencent deal was made because the company was up for sale, as in another, bigger deal was being finalized. Perhaps all these people left (and most of them left to work elsewhere on games) because they got a taste of things to come, when someone soon starts telling them what to do?
For now, that someone seems to me like Microsoft. It’s no secret that Epic Games wanted to go multi-platform, even with Gears, but lo and behold, they are making another Microsoft-exclusive title (and who knows what else for the next Xbox). A new deal?
On Microsoft’s front, things are heating up as well and for good reason. They need games for their next Xbox and they are now in a worse position in terms of first-party developers than they were at the launch of Xbox 360: most of their developers have closed, some… rarely make decent games (clever, eh?) anymore, and they no longer have Peter Molyneux or the behemoth that was Bungie. And sure, Microsoft has been a bit dickish when it comes to their hardcore fans but they will be needing them soon. Some signs point to them realizing that fact, hence their attempt to renew their trademark for Killer Instinct (which failed) this September, and their launch of another new game studio in Black Tusk Studios.
Sure, this is all speculation but something is brewing and I bet that we will have more news soon.