Who Actually Came Up With Fortnite?

It's not Tim Sweeney.

Fortnite's forgotten history
Fortnite's forgotten history

Ever since it burst onto the scene in late 2017 (despite having been around for many, many years prior to that), Fortnite has racked up acclaim and controversy in equal measure. From lunchboxes to loot boxes, it’s not been far from the lips of even those who don’t play video games in recent years, but who actually came up with Fortnite?

Do a cursory Google search for “who created Fortnite” and one name will pop up over and over again: Tim Sweeney. The founder of Epic Games, Fortnite’s developers, is often credited with being the man behind it all, but this is incorrect. Sure, while he may have had a guiding hand in shaping Fortnite into what it is today, there’s no one person at Epic, past or present, who can say they were behind it all. Others may also point to Donald Mustard and Cliff Bleszinski as the creators of Fortnite, but again, nobody can lay claim to saying they came up with the game.

Or, nobody has been given the credit they deserve, at least.

As revealed in a feature with Game Informer way back in 2014 when Fortnite was still a few years from release, Fortnite was conceptualised as part of an internal game jam at Epic in 2011 following the completion of Gears of War 3. A game jam typically entails developers trying to come up with ideas for their next big project, or to see what they can create when against the clock or specific parameters.

Epic would take the concepts from that game jam and then mold it into Fortnite over time. As for the name, that was part of an email thread between Epic employees — the exact employee is uncredited. So, why is Fortnite spelled like Fortnite? Well, according to Roger Collum, producer on Fortnite during its early days all the way up until 2020, it was just the “flavour of the game”.

With nothing but the basic concept to hand, Fortnite would initially be revealed at the Spike TV VGAs in late 2011, but it would then be many years until it saw the light of day again. Fortnite would belatedly release as a paid beta in 2017 before the reveal of Battle Royale, the mode the game really made its name on, later in the year, and the rest is history.

So, who exactly came up with Fortnite is still a bit of a mystery, but there’s someone at Epic Games, who may even still be with the company, who deserves a little more credit. And maybe some free V-Bucks, maybe?

Fortnite is free-to-play on PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Android.

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