Fortnite developer Epic Games is adding a new “time played” metric to the calculations that determine how much creators are paid for the Fortnite experiences (called “islands”) that they make. Time played will be measured alongside the player popularity and player retention metrics Epic introduced when it rolled out its updated creator payouts system in March.
This is the first major adjustment to the updated payouts system that Epic introduced alongside its Unreal Editor for Fortnite. Those tools offer a lot of new ways to make games and virtual worlds, and the new payouts system gives 40 percent of the game’s net revenues back to creators (though Epic is competing for that money as well). Epic’s hope is that the tools and the revised payouts structure could entice more creators to make Fortnite islands — which could keep them from building for rival platforms like Roblox.
With the changes to the metrics, time played in Fortnite islands will be boosted in how the metrics are weighed, according to an Epic blog post. Part of the reason Epic is adjusting these metrics is that creators just don’t have a lot of tools to easily bring new players to Fortnite, Saxs Persson, Epic’s EVP of the Fortnite ecosystem, says in an interview with The Verge. If Epic can’t currently offer those sorts of acquisition tools, “we should dial down the importance of acquisition and dial up ‘fun in ecosystem,’” Persson says.
For example, Fortnite doesn’t support deep linking right now, so to visit an island, you have to manually type in an island code. Creators can easily share those numerical codes through social media, but players still have to take the step to punch them in. “The most correlated way that we could find that players are having fun is something as simple as the amount of time they spend on an island,” Persson says. Epic doesn’t have any new metrics “on the docket,” according to Persson, though he expects that the company will make some tweaks between the different variables.
And even though Epic is still adjusting the metrics, the company says its new creator payout system has already paid out more than the previous Support-A-Creator (SAC) program, which gave creators a small kickback if players typed in a special code when making a purchase. “The top 1,000 island creators saw a 5.2x median increase in earnings through engagement payouts over SAC in March,” Epic wrote in the blog post. These new changes were already included in Epic’s creator payouts for April that were distributed beginning May 30th, and the adjustments will result in “an increase of 1.45x more total money paid to creators when compared to March,” Epic said.
Epic is also sharing some estimates about how many creators will make certain amounts of money over the course of a year. For a limited few, Fortnite islands could prove to be very lucrative: 43 creators are estimated to make more than $1 million over the course of 12 months, 13 are set to make more than $3 million, and just five could make more than $10 million. But the numbers are also reveal how few creators are currently making meaningful amounts of money — if current trends hold, only 2,167 creators would make between $100 and $1,000 over the course of 12 months, according to Epic’s data — but given that the program is rather new, it’s perhaps not super surprising that the numbers seem low right now.
Persson is optimistic about the way things are going. “We expect this number to grow,” he says. “But we’re very, very happy with it. Personally, are we where I would want to be? We’re a little ahead of it, honestly.”