Epic Games is releasing an "open to everybody" Unreal Engine 5 editor for Fortnite, and will let creators monetize what they make.
CEO Tim Sweeney told Fast Company that around half of players' time in Fortnite is spent playing other users' content and Epic Games wants to make that experience more fully-fledged through the editor, and the ability to monetize that custom content.
"We’re going to release the Unreal Editor for Fortnite, the full capabilities that you’ve seen [in Unreal Engine] opened up so that anybody can build very high-quality game content and code," Sweeney said, "and deploy it into Fortnite without having to do a deal with us. It’s open to everybody."
He added that it's Epic Games' aim to make Fortnite a marketplace similar to Steam or the App Store, comparing it to other games like Roblox that, while free to download and play normally, feature player-made content that can be bought with real money.
Sweeney said: "We’re building an economy, and it will support creators actually building businesses around their work and making increasing amounts of profit from the commerce that arises from people playing their content."
Epic Games' Unreal Engine 5 was released in April and developers are already doing some pretty impressive stuff. Working by himself, Lorenzo Drago created an incredibly realistic scene of a Japanese train station that's almost indistinguishable from real life.
This idea of monetizing this Unreal Engine 5 custom content also connects with Epic Games' push into the metaverse – an all-encompassing digital world with its own economy – that Sony and LEGO's parent company KIRKBI invested billions in.
Fortnite in itself is already fulfilling a lot of the concept of putting "the real world" into a shared online space. Countless collaborations between the biggest entertainment franchises and Epic Games combined with the addition of real events like Coachella have already brought the idea to life, and having its own economy will only bolster that.
Ex-Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé is also a believer in this type of monetization in games, commenting recently that he's a believer in the concept to of "play to own". After spending 300 hours building an Animal Crossing island, for example, he'd like to be able to make some money from it.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He'll talk about The Witcher all day.