Epic Games Cutting 900 Jobs, 16 Percent Of Its Workforce

Epic Games Inc., the company behind global megahit Fortnite, the Epic Games Store, and the wildly popular Unreal Engine, is laying off 16 percent of its current workforce. This report, first coming from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, sees almost 900 employees losing their jobs.

A memo was shared this morning at the North Carolina company, seen by Kotaku, informing staff of the bad news. It explains that alongside 16 percent of staff being laid off, the company is also selling Bandcamp, and “spinning off” most of marketing company SuperAwesome. Earlier today on X, Schreier wrote, “rumors were flying as Epic disabled Slack for employees ahead of the news.”

“For a while now, we’ve been spending way more money than we earn,” says the memo, sent to staff by CEO Tim Sweeney. “I have long been optimistic we could power through this transition without layoffs, but in retrospect I see that this was unrealistic.”

It seems that Fortnite’s failure to continue growing was part of the problem. Sweeney reports that it’s “starting to grow again,” but this is driven by creator content “with significant revenue sharing.”

Despite efforts to reduce spending, Sweeney says “we still ended up far short of financial sustainability.” These layoffs, he hopes, will “stabilize our finances.”

“Laid-off Epic employees will receive six months severance and health benefits,” Schreier said on X, adding that an “all-hands meeting [is] happening shortly.”

This news would be shocking under any circumstances, but it’s especially surprising given Epic’s apparently incredibly solvent state. Fortnite alone has over 230 million players, with 2022 seeing daily user peaks of 34.3 million people. According to Epic accounts, Fortnite was bringing in around $5-6 billion a year.

Those are already massive figures, before you even consider Unreal Engine fees, and revenue from the Epic Games Store, which last year was $355 million. That much money coming in, to an outsider, makes the decision to lose so many staff seem hard to comprehend. However, according to Sweeney, they were still outspending even these amounts.

At the same time, Epic is divesting itself of Bandcamp, a deeply strange acquisition in the first place. It’s being sold to Songtradr. Also, SuperAwesome, Epic’s marketing arm, is being spun off into an independent company under the same branding.

Epic Games Inc. is privately owned, with the majority of the company’s shares belonging to CEO Tim Sweeney. However, the all-consuming Tencent Holdings Ltd. own a 40 percent stake.

We’ve reached out to Epic to ask for comment regarding the situation. In the meantime, Sweeney said to staff in a memo,

Saying goodbye to people who have helped build Epic is a terrible experience for all. The consolation is that we’re adequately funded to support laid off employees: we’re offering a severance package that includes six months base pay and in the US/Canada/Brazil six months of Epic-paid healthcare.

All the best to everyone affected in finding new work as soon as possible.

Diablo 4 Season 2 Will Make You Level Up 40 Percent Faster

Dark foes thirst for blood in Diablo IV's season two keyart.

Image: Blizzard

Diablo IV’s Season of Blood goes live October 17, and it’s aiming to inject some life back into the loot RPG with blood-sucking foes and quality-of-life fixes. The game’s developers promise players will level up 40 percent more quickly than last season, potentially paving the way for more fun and less grinding.

During yesterday’s live stream, Blizzard revealed season two revolves around fighting off blood-thirsty hordes and using their health-stealing abilities against them. Players will gain access to 22 new Vampiric Powers that can be activated using new Pact Armor, acquired throughout the season. Currencies called Standalone Pacts and Cleansing Acids will let you rework the armor you find to make sure it aligns with the Vampiric Powers you’re using. It’s a whole new kind of buildcrafting economy infused with spooky vibes right in time for Halloween.

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But the real promise of Season of Blood lies in how it aims to reduce player burnout, making it easier to hit level 100, and have fun ripping through nightmare dungeons and new end game bosses as a super-powered leech. Players will get more XP, and Nightmare dungeons will be more streamlined. Here’s a preview of the relevant changes:

Experience and Monster Levelling

  • Decreased the time spent to reach level 100, making the journey about 40% faster. The experience gained from killing monsters at level 50+ has been significantly increased and rises steadily as you level.
  • Prevent Monsters from being less powerful as character level increases by making Monsters in World Tier III and IV match the current player level at a minimum after Levels 55 and 75 respectively. This increases the overall experience of levelling, making it much smoother.
  • Incenses now grant a bonus to Experience and persist after death.
  • Increased the potency of Experience bonuses (Elixir, Season Blessings) by making them multiplicative with the World Tier bonus.

Nightmare Dungeons

  • Expedited the demon slaying process as Nightmare Sigils now teleports you directly into the Nightmare Dungeon.
  • Avoided some players not getting Nightmare Sigils from Dungeons that have no final boss, Nightmare Sigils are now rewarded upon completing a Nightmare Dungeon instead of final boss defeat.
  • Objectives have been removed from some Dungeons, only defeating the boss is needed to defeat the Nightmare Dungeon.
  • Multiple Nightmare Dungeon Afflictions have been updated.
  • Massively reduced backtracking by placing all Dungeon objectives on the critical path of a dungeon, making them much harder to miss by taking a wrong turn.
  • Many dungeon layouts have been redesigned.
  • Improved the overall readability of Traps by enhancing their overall visual effects and reducing their crowd control.
  • Endcaps have been added to ensure Dungeon layouts don’t feel too linear.
  • Paragon Glyph experience has been increased.
A screenshot shows Season of Blood's Pact Armor UI.

Screenshot: Blizzard

It all sounds great, and will hopefully prevent more players from stalling out in the back-half of the race-to-100 grind. But the rewards for getting there are also getting more interesting. Season of Blood will add five new endgame bosses to Sanctuary, with the chance to drop specific pieces of Unique and Uber Unique loot. They are: Grigoire, The Galvanic Saint, Echo of Varshan, the Beast in the Ice, Dark Master, and Echo of Duriel. Each boss will have a specific way to summon them, and carry a unique cosmetic. Other endgame activities are improving as well, with cooldowns for Legion Events and World Bosses getting reduced, and the rewards for Helltide chests increasing. Even Dungeon Events are getting more monster density.

I’ve only touched on some of the new content and changes coming in season two (the rest is outlined over on Blizzard’s website), but it paints a clear picture of a live-service action-RPG that seems to be moving in a more rewarding and less tedious direction. Shortly after Diablo IV’s release, the developer said it wanted players to feel empowered to take a break and later dip back into the game at the start of a new season, without feeling like they had fallen behind. As someone who fell off of Season of Malignant early on, that’s definitely the feeling I’m getting with Season of Blood. Hopefully the new improvements coming make it easier to hang on for the full ride this time.