So, uh, in case you weren’t aware, Epic Games has a… complicated relationship with the gaming public at this exact moment. A couple of years ago, they were just one hundreds of PC gaming developers who had dreams of success and glory. Then, they put out Fortnite, which is perhaps one of – if not the – most successful games of all time. They rake in a lot of money, and while a lot of people are a big fan of the game, there are others who are less enthused about Fortnite, but not, like, violently so.
But then Epic Games used the money Fortnite gave it to launch its own Steam competitor. Initial reaction from fans: wholly positive. Competition is good... that is, until it starts buying exclusive rights to highly-anticipated games, forcing people to use it instead of Steam. People get mad. Then people find out that Epic Games is in a state of never-ending crunch to keep Fortnite popular – in a time when people are really not a fan of that idea. Things get worse.
My point with all this is that it seems like a really weird and bad time for BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, to honor Epic Games with a Special Award.
BAFTA Games Committee chair Dr. Jo twist says:
"We are delighted to present this year’s Special Award to Epic Games. Having powered the creativity and imaginations of development teams of all sizes over the years—many of whom have gone on to win BAFTAs—it’s right to mark their huge contribution with this Special Award as part of BAFTA’s commitment to celebrating and promoting the very best in games… Epic is at the forefront of the evolution of the global games industry and the impact of their innovation is undeniable."
I mean… all that is right in the strictest sense, but the timing still seems a bit off, especially since Epic Games had made no effort that I’ve seen to combat the crunch thing. And the Special Award lives up to its name: it’s given irregularly, and only when BAFTA thinks someone has actually earned it. A list that includes Riot Games founders (oops), Markus “Notch” Person (oops)… and… uh… okay, maybe this makes sense.
Anyway. Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney will accept the award on June 12, during this years E3. So we can look forward to that, I guess.