Why five prominent gaming influencers are teaming up to build the top Fortnite Creative experience
Five prominent gaming influencers are pooling their influence — and money — in an effort to build the first and largest creator-led experience inside Epic Games’ growing Fortnite Creative ecosystem.
At last month’s Game Developers Conference, Epic Games announced a raft of significant changes to its creator strategy in Unreal Engine and Fortnite Creative, including Creator Economy 2.0, a promise to dole out 40 percent of revenue from “Fortnite’s” Creative and Battle Royale modes to in-game creators.
Today, April 28, a group of five leading gaming influencers — SypherPK, Ninja, Nickmercs, TimTheTatman and CouRageJD — has announced the development of “Project V,” a custom Fortnite Creative game featuring unique game mechanics and quests connected to each creator’s brand and fandom. With their collective following of over 120 million, these creators are hoping to turn “Project V” into the No. 1 Fortnite Creative experience after its planned release in Q2 2024.
To learn more about the strategy behind “Project V,” Digiday spoke to Ali “SypherPK” Hassan and his wife and business partner Daniela Ali, the CEO of SypherPK’s Fortnite Creative development company Oni Studios, for an annotated Q&A.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
On the role of Epic’s Creator Economy 2.0 in sparking the venture
Ali “SypherPK” Hassan:
Myself and my team have been in the creative scene for a while, putting out maps and whatnot. But once they unveiled Unreal Editor for Fortnite and the new creator program at GDC, I started thinking. Funnily enough, when they did the GDC stream, Ninja was there, Tim was there, CouRage was there and Nick was tweeting about it. That same day, I started calling them up, and I was like, “let’s see if we can join forces. Let’s assemble the Avengers.” We agreed very quickly about coming together on a project like this.
At this point, the writing is on the wall: Epic appears to be building out a creator economy in Fortnite Creative to rival that of Roblox, the virtual experience platform that paid out over $500 million to in-game creators in 2021. The most successful experiences inside Roblox, including games like “Adopt Me” and “Brookhaven,” are not necessarily the most finely tuned games — they’re the ones that got in early. “Brookhaven” was created in April 2020, as Roblox user numbers skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, and players have visited the experience over 30.2 billion times in the years since. By kicking off their venture only a few weeks after Epic’s announced changes, the creators of “Project V” are gearing up to be the first movers in this new ecosystem.
On the relationship between Epic Games and the creators of “Project V”
Epic loves SypherPK. He really was the mentor that taught a lot of the world how to play Fortnite when it first started, and he has a special place in their heart for that. Ali [Hassan] has gone to their headquarters, and been part of the company’s Year in Review. He’s the voice of the community to Epic, and we have built a very strong relationship with them — we really love everyone there.
And so, when we brought this project to their attention, they immediately jumped on the opportunity to help us along, because even they don’t know what something like this could look like. Just from the start, they’re willing to offer resources in terms of giving us instruction and training on their new engine; they’re very interested in collaborating.
Epic’s GDC announcements made it clear that the company is willing to share more of its Fortnite revenues with in-game creators, if it means those creators will buy into the game developer’s vision for the metaverse.
Ali’s answer mentions that Epic has shared training and other resources with Hassan and his team. This kind of collaboration between game developers and their top influencers is relatively widespread. As the creators of “Project V” build out the experience over the next year, they are likely to benefit from their close relationship with Epic Games via further training and perhaps even sneak previews of upcoming tools and features.
On how the “Project V” team is taking inspiration from top Roblox experiences
Ali “SypherPK” Hassan:
We’re 100 percent looking at a lot of UGC stuff in Roblox, and what currently exists in Fortnite. We want to understand what people like to play, and that’s why a big part of our initiative, especially in the next few months, is to establish a connection with the audience on socials. Eventually, we’re going to launch a Discord. We really want to see feedback from what people are playing right now — what the numbers show on Roblox and Fortnite Creative, and also what people are craving that’s not necessarily out there right now.
Roblox is the blueprint for a vibrant in-game creator economy, so it makes sense that Hassan and his partners would look for inspiration in top Roblox experiences such as “Brookhaven.” But while Roblox has the lead right now, the advanced capabilities of Unreal Engine mean that Fortnite Creative has a considerable advantage in terms of the potential depth and aesthetic beauty of its in-game experiences. Hassan referred to the sheer number of video games currently built in the popular game engine as one of his reasons for choosing to build inside Fortnite — and as creators like Hassan start to build out the virtual world of Fortnite Creative, their fans will inevitably follow.
On the creators’ strategy to promote “Project V”
Having each creator actually buy into this project is an important part, but just as important is having a well-thought-out and executed strategy from Oni Studios for every creator to tap into all the different verticals that they play into. We are extremely excited about the possibilities of how we can make the game more accessible to different communities. These guys have 120 million combined reach across all their platforms, so I think there are a million ways for us to tap into all that.
Building an immersive virtual space is challenging enough, but it’s even more difficult to get players to actually step inside. Fortunately for the creators working on “Project V,” they have considerable access to the distribution end of metaverse experiences — the ability of prominent creators to direct their fans’ attention toward their custom-built spaces. The “Project V” creators’ plan to build a virtual world using Fortnite Creative is a bold one, but they might actually have the clout to pull it off.
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