Epic Games, Inc. is an American video game and software developer and publisher based in Cary, North Carolina. The company was founded by Tim Sweeney as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991, originally located in his parents’ house in Potomac, Maryland. Following his first commercial video game release, ZZT (1991), the company became Epic MegaGames, Inc. in early 1992 and brought on Mark Rein, who has been its vice president since. Moving their headquarters to Cary in 1999, the studio’s name was simplified to Epic Games.
Epic Games develops Unreal Engine, a commercially available game engine which also powers their internally developed video games, such as Fortnite and the Unreal, Gears of War and Infinity Blade series. In 2014, Unreal Engine was named the “most successful videogame engine” by Guinness World Records.
Epic Games owns the game developers Chair Entertainment, Psyonix, Mediatonic and Harmonix, as well as cloud-based software developer Cloudgine, and operates studios in Seattle, England, Berlin, Yokohama and Seoul. While Sweeney remains the controlling shareholder, Tencent acquired a 48.4% outstanding stake, equating to 40% of total Epic, in the company in 2012, as part of an agreement aimed at moving Epic towards a games as a service model. Following the release of the popular Fortnite Battle Royale in 2017, the company gained additional investments that enabled to expand its Unreal Engine offerings, establish esport events around Fortnite, and launch the Epic Games Store. As of April 2022, the company has a US$32 billion equity valuation.
On August 13, 2020, Epic released a version of Fortnite that included a permanent discount on V-bucks across all platforms, but for those on iOS and Android devices, only if they purchased directly through Epic, bypassing Apple and Google’s storefronts. Both Apple and Google immediately delisted the game for violating the storefronts’ terms of service by including their own storefront, which led Epic to file lawsuits against both companies the same day, accusing them of antitrust behavior in how they operate their app stores.
Potomac Computer Systems was founded by Tim Sweeney in 1991. At the time, Sweeney was studying mechanical engineering and living in a dorm at the University of Maryland. He frequently visited his parents, who lived in nearby Potomac, Maryland, where his personal computer, used for both work and leisure, was situated.Out of this location, Sweeney started Potomac Computer Systems as a computer consulting business, but later figured that it would be too much work he would have to put into keeping the business stable, and scrapped the idea.
After finishing his game ZZT, Sweeney opted to re-use the Potomac Computer Systems name to release the game to the public in January 1991.It was only with the unexpected success of ZZT, caused in most part by the easy modifiability of the game using Sweeney’s custom ZZT-oop programming language, that made Sweeney consider turning Potomac Computer Systems into a video game company.ZZT was sold through bulletin board systems, while all orders were fulfilled by Sweeney’s father, Paul Sweeney.The game sold several thousand copies as of May 2009, and Paul Sweeney still lived at the former Potomac Computer Systems address at the time, fulfilling all orders that eventually came by mail.The final copy of ZZT was shipped by Paul Sweeney in November 2013.