Veteran FPS Devs Form New Studio To Make Games Inside Fortnite

Veteran game developers from Bungie, EA, and Kongregate have come together to form a new video game studio, Look North World. And this new studio will be focused on making… Fortnite games?

Since Fortnite’s release in 2017, Epic has continually updated and expanded the game, adding new content, weapons, and modes like Creative Mode, which lets players build their own maps to share online. The most recent major evolution came this March when Epic launched Unreal Engine for Fortnite (UEFN). This lets people create, for free, more advanced maps and even different games inside Fortnite. This not only makes it easier than ever to create games and playable prototypes, but all UEFN creations can be played seamlessly in Fortnite, providing indie devs a giant audience for their creations. It’s likely this ease of access combined with the huge Fortnite audience is what’s attracted some veteran game devs.

On July 18, Alex Seropian, Jay Pecho, Patrick Moran, Kyle Marks, Aaron Marroquin, and Prashant Patil announced their new game development studio, Look North World. This team of developers is made up of vets from EA and Kongregate and will be led by Seropian, who helped found Bungie (Halo, Destiny) back in the day.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to video game news over the last two years, a new studio formed by devs from other, bigger companies might sound like a familiar situation. That’s because we’ve seen plenty of game devs leaving big publishers and studios to create their own new outfits, as detailed in this (shockingly) long thread on Twitter. But what makes Look North World different is that these vets formed a new games studio to exclusively build projects inside Fortnite.

“Developing in UEFN opens a whole new world of opportunities, and we are in uncharted territory,” said Seropian. “Through experimentation, we will see what the players like and involve them in decisions.”

“We are jumping into it with a ‘the virtual sky is the limit’ mentality,” he continued. “As we develop creative ideas, we will learn how these platforms engage, entertain, and boost social interactions in order to iterate accordingly.”

Why make games inside Fortnite?

Look North World’s first game is already here. Outlaw Corral, live now in Fortnite, is a Wild West-themed 1v1 shooter that can be played for free inside Epic’s popular game. Look North World says this is just one of several UEFN games it currently has in development.

While it might seem wild that some devs are jumping ship to make games inside Fortnite, the reality is that UEFN games can become hugely successful.

A Fortnite-based clone of Only Up has become one of the most popular games in the world, and has probably made its devs a lot of money, thanks to Epic’s system for paying UEFN devs. If Look North World can create a few games that are even just a fraction as big as that Only Up clone, it’s likely it could make real money in the process.

And because Fortnite handles all of the servers and infrastructure, it seems reasonable that it’s a cheaper way to create online video games, helping even small hits become profitable. If this new studio succeeds in Fortnite, don’t be surprised if others start investing more time and money into creating UEFN games, too.

Cyberpunk 2077 Developers Form New Union In Face Of Layoffs

As the international gaming industry faces wave after wave of layoffs, workers at Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher developer, CD Projekt Red, have created a new Poland-wide union aimed at protecting their rights. This arrives in the face of the massive studio announcing it would be firing nine percent of its staff by March 2024.

Związek Pracowników Branży Gier (Polish Gamedev Workers Union) has been created by CDPR employees Lev Ki and Paweł Myszka, reports Eurogamer, following a third round of job losses in three months at the studio.

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The new union’s site explains that it’s not specific to CDPR, but rather aims to represent “all professions and people working in the game development sector in Poland.”

CD Projekt Red has obviously been through a tumultuous few years, with the protracted development and disastrous launch of Cyberpunk 2077 upending its schedules, pulling hundreds of developers off potentially The Witcher 4 and any other projects they may have been working on, and then only made worse by a further year of all-hands-on-deck trying to get CP77 into a functioning state and its DLC out of the door.

That done, the studio will be entering relatively quieter times, and as is the grim state of the games development industry, mean it does not need to employ as many staff until it gets closer to launching whatever might come next. Announcing it would be letting go nine percent of its workforce, some 100 people, was enough to push those remaining into organizing.

“This event created a tremendous amount of stress and insecurity, affecting our mental health and leading to the creation of this union in response,” explains the site. It continues, “Having a union means having more security, transparency, better protection, and a stronger voice in times of crisis.”

This union can only represent workers in Poland, with Polish contracts, and as such doesn’t cover those in CDPR’s Vancouver studio. However, they can of course begin their own efforts to unionize. As the union site explains,

The above shows how employers tend to view their interests to be in conflict with those of their employees. While employees are the ones creating value in this arrangement, they lack any decision power in company-structure-related matters. That is why we need to organize to enter those situations on equal footing.

Update: CDPR gave us this statement in response to the formation of the union:

We have been informed about the intention to form a trade union covering gamedev companies, including our company. We will act in accordance with law and comply with legal obligations that might arise from that situation.

At the same it’s worth mentioning that the voice of RED’s team is already represented by the RED Team Representatives (RTR), which is a democratically elected body representing all employees and independent of the management board. We have been working with them for over 2 years now and we will continue to do so to keep our work environment transparent, safe and healthy.

Updated: 10/10/23, 03.51 a.m. ET: This post was updated to include CDPR’s statement in response to the story.

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