Last week, Epic Games revealed its exciting new Unreal Editor for Fortnite, which gives players incredible freedom to design their own unique experiences within the battle royale. Already, they’ve made everything from chapter one map to recreations of Mario Kart maps and original game ideas. While the tool opens up a wide variety of options for creators, it also comes with stipulations as to what fans can and can’t make–along with what they can monetise.
The toolset arrives shortly after the early access launch of the second iteration of its creator economy, wherein Epic uses “engagement metrics,” to determine what of the 40% of the net revenue from the Item Shop will be distributed and to whom. Essentially the program aspires to pay creators based on how much their content gets used. “Players can show support,” Epic’s guidelines state, “for their favourite creators’ islands simply by playing them.” As is to be expected, there are terms and conditions, specifically around intellectual property. Epic Games says players can only remake the first chapter’s map, but you may not monetise it. And, you’re not allowed to recreate anything that violates someone else’s “intellectual property,” even if you “never intend to publish it to Fortnite.”
On March 23, Epic Games published a blog post restating that no one is allowed to use “anyone’s intellectual property without their permission” in the creator program. Importantly, the post states that you’re not even allowed to create such things, let alone publish or monetise them (Epic Games re-emphasised that first point in a follow up blog a day later). The exception to this rule is for chapter one maps, but you still can’t monetise those.
In an interview with Fortnite content creator SinX6, Tim Sweeney, Epic Games’ CEO, clarified that this is to avoid “creating a precedent that totally breaks down in the future,” and that you also can’t create maps from other games, like Call of Duty.
Messaging around these rules and “intellectual property,” however, still is a little confusing. Map creators in other games, for example, have long seen recreations of iconic locations from previous games and other franchises. It seems clear that an exchange of money over such things could raise legal issues, but mandates that unmonetized maps won’t be allowed are raising concerns among some creators who are simply creating tributes or reimaginings of classic game locations. Kotaku has reached out to Epic Games to clarify how strict this policy actually is, though it’s possible we may see things heavily inspired by obvious sources that are simply named something else that’s clever.