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Epic Games Laid Off 16% of Their Employees

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by liquify, Oct 1, 2023.

  1. liquify

    liquify

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    They fired more than 830 people. I think it will only be a matter of time before they start using some methods akin to Unity's monetization schemes.

    I believe Godot would be the safest option for simple 3D mobile game development, although we might not be able to create something like V Rising with that.
     
  2. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    Nothing been moved out of Epic engineering department, so far I am aware.
    Some staff fluff and some side game projects been canceled, however.

    That big in opposition to what Unity did past year.
     
  3. Murgilod

    Murgilod

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    Now now, let's not let a pesky thing like facts get in the way of fearmongering.
     
  4. liquify

    liquify

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    I just hope Epic Games won't follow Unity's plan, because I really liked Unreal Engine's Nanite and Lumen features.
     
  5. SunnySunshine

    SunnySunshine

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    When it comes to any large corporation, especially when it's publicly traded (not saying that Epic Games is), it's only a matter of time before it turns bad. It may take years, sometimes decades or even a century, but ultimately, the original vision and dedication of its founders will either be forgotten, warped into something unrecognizable or simply just disregarded in favor of insatiable profit seeking. That's one reason why companies come and go - they forget what made them great in the first place and rot from the inside. It might be sad in a way, but remember, it also leaves room for new entities to arise, so it's all part of a process.

    FOSS, on the other hand, can only improve over time, because there is no other motivation. Given this context, it's not surprising why programs like Blender have grown so much over the years, while many others have been on a steady decline. It wouldn't surprise me if Godot, at the end of the day, will provide great value without really asking for anything in return. An offer most will be unable to refuse.

    About these layoffs - it's not that surprising given the economic climate, and from what I've heard no real core development of the engine itself has been affected, so I don't think you need to be that worried. Unreal Engine is absolutely amazing, and I reckon it will continue to be so for a very long time. However, the question is how much you want to invest yourself into and depend on yet another corporation that at the end of the day may not have your best interest at heart. Or at the very least, it may be worth considering just how much power we want to give one company. Part of the reason why I like people moving to Godot is because it balances the scales and forces Unity and Epic Games to be more humble. Or at least, that's what I hope.
     
  6. liquify

    liquify

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    I'm just concerned about the future of Unreal Engine, because Epic Games are 40% owned by Tencent and China's economy is currently not good.

    FOSS will always improve if it's managed by a good company like the Blender Foundation, but I don't think Blender will fully replace Houdini and Maya in the future, because it doesn't have C++ API, its VFX tools aren't as updated as Houdini's and some of its features are half-baked. For example, its video rendering speed is much slower than DaVinci Resolve's.

    I believe Godot will also play catch-up with Unreal and Unity, but it will never achieve the performances of those leading game engines.
     
  7. I'm curious when people finally get it that companies' and corporations' layoffs have literally nothing to do with any economic environment 99.99% of the time. They eff up some decisions, they have to shut up the investors, so they eff over a bunch of workers who can't really do anything about it. End of story. No economy involved.
     
  8. Rastapastor

    Rastapastor

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    This, but on the bright side, the layoffs hardly affected the engineering teams and people behind UE, Fortnite, Meta-Human, Quixel and other most important stuff for devs.

    Jobs like "influencer relations" were sacked, which in the first place were useless. The other 2 companies they bought also are useless for game devs.

    So basically those 830 ppl pay for the bad decisions and spending by Tim :).
     
  9. Well, I saw/follow "sacked" people who are technical writers (expect even worse documentation and teaching materials), UI/UX people (on core teams too), etc... also community managers aren't "useless", they help coordinating promotions and marketing. Maybe you don't like marketing or something, but it is part of reality.
     
  10. IllTemperedTunas

    IllTemperedTunas

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    It could be considered a bit morbid, but these situations are always fascinating to me. The entire lifecycle of companies are interesting, and collapse is the crescendo of these stories. The conflict of passion and profits fighting against one another to remain profitable and able to create things of quality.

    Did a little digging and found some glass door reviews of Mediatonic, one of the studios hit hardest under the layoffs.

    Summary: Mediatonic sounds like the quintessential small tech studio that made a relatively simple hit game: Fall Guys. You've got these fun talented people that you have to herd to try to make product. Then you've got some assholes to do the herding, and let's be real, you gotta crack some eggs to make product. Unreal acquiring them is the usual corporate acquisition: "Hey you guys seem competent, here's some cash, we're going to come in and crack the whip and get our money's worth."

    It's sad to read the following reviews, each one represents a life, someone trying to get by and make it in this crazy world amidst the liars and back scratchers and the mounting demands and pressure as a studio falls behind milestones. You read about how management doesn't understand, you read about how contributions aren't valued and it's all about who you know.

    But you always have to take these with a grain of salt, because everyone is their own little island of prejudices and delusions and often the cogs in the machine are disgruntled and dismissive of what's necessary to make things of value, and blind to the reality that life just isn't fair for the workers most of the time. At the end of the day they weren't performing to Unreal's high standards, and knowing the axe was coming I'm sure these guys pushed their employees very hard trying to stay afloat.

    Here are some of the reviews from glassdoor (note these are recent reviews, the older ones from years back are all glowing 5 stars):

    Position: Game Designer

    Pros

    Paid well. This section requires a minimum of 5 words.

    Cons

    Used to have a strong creative culture, but that's mostly been stamped out. Basically works as an Epic outsourcing studio, where you support Epic projects with little room to meaningfully affect creative decisions. Epic has a very corporate culture which encourages crunch at all stages of a project, and a conflict-driven communication style. Have to ask for approval to do any creative endeavour in your personal time such as writing a novel, teaching, being in a band - and many of those requests are not answered or rejected. Incredibly poorly managed projects, where some people are working late literally every day and other people have nothing to do for weeks. No transparency around reviews and salaries, so you'll get a great review but a salary increase below inflation and no communication why. Due to cost-cutting methods all budgets for socials were taken away and the summer party was axed. Sexism and bullying from Lead-level employees, who seemingly never get consequences.

    Advice to Management

    You should leave and open a new studio. You really did make something lovely in the original Mediatonic, and clearly you love making original, creative games, but it's clear that Mediatonic management no longer has control over Mediatonic's future. The old Mediatonic people knew and loved is dead, you might as well leave and start something new!

    =====================================
    Senior Games Programmer

    Pros

    Very good salary and benefits. Quarterly bonuses on top of salary, and benefits include health checkups, glasses/contacts, dental, coaching sessions for personal/professional issues you're facing. Employees have total control over whether they work from home or in the office, and are not assigned to certain projects based on their location (i.e. a team could include people from London and Madrid offices, both work from home and office-based).

    Cons

    The company tries to maintain a wholesome "we're all a family here" vibe and facade despite being more of a corporate behemoth than they might like, especially since Epic's acquisition of the company. In truth, ease of career progression is very dependant on your manager and how willing they are to fight on your behalf, as well as differing standards by discipline (QA needing to build portfolios to be considered for promotion, artists being asked to cheerlead for management and not put out bad vibes). While salaries are good, how they are determined is entirely a black box that even managers don't have insight on, and this is especially apparent when it comes to quarterly bonuses that are extremely volatile and differ from quarter to quarter and from person to person without explanation. There is also a sense of diminishing room for project ownership and creativity within Mediatonic, with it feeling more like an Epic outsourcing studio month by month.

    Advice to Management

    Be more transparent with employees about what their career progression paths really look like and require. Strive for fairness in those paths by not forcing everyone into a cookie-cutter mould if they want to progress. Push for more direct honesty with employees when giving feedback and don't be afraid of being blunt.

    =======================================================

    Pros

    - Very good salary and benefits (especially post Epic acquisition) - Founders are very down to earth, humble and great decision makers that care about the team - 99% of the staff were great to work with - Felt valued by the entire team for my contribution

    Cons

    - Used to have to multiple projects but now mostly focused on Fall Guys and the Epic's Metaverse mission (new projects may come later?). Creative renewal can be challenging.
    - Experienced the growing pains of a studio that grew in size extremely quickly

    Advice to Management

    Remember to invite core contributors who are POC to key events. It felt really bad not being asked when my contribution was fundamental to the project, and having colleagues on other projects asking why I wasn't there. This was just one small blemish on what was otherwise a fantastic time!

    ========================================================

    Goal posts are secretly and repeatedly moved when working towards a promotion. You'll have a much easier time if you're well-liked and popular. If you get on the bad side of certain people, you'll be targeted and bullied and their clique will do the same.

    Advice to Management

    Compassion and empathy isn't just saying there are support systems in place to 'talk' things through. The corporate drive for constant career progression wasn't an issue until a buy-out Epic Games. It was about creativity and fun driving its staff to progress their own skills and career goals because they saw it could lead to something exciting in the future.

    ========================================================

    Cons

    - Some people (fortunately very few) in high ranks contribute towards creating a toxic environment for the employees. Feedback about this is usually ignored.
    - Talking about your concerns in public chats is useless as there seems to be a culture of secrecy for complex topics related to the company. Every topic seems to be very delicate and there's often backfire against whoever raises any of these concerns in public.
    - Paternalism. People in high ranks (producers, etc.) think they know what you need better than yourself, and if you complain or request something different you're seen as ungrateful. Some of these people constantly try to make you think the company is doing a lot of things for you and you're extremely lucky, while you're constantly working hard and doing your best to make the company successful.
    - Strong anti-union culture in some high and lower ranks, including subtle personal and emotional pressure on organized workers.
    - Even if overtime is not usual, it happens from time to time. In my case, when I wanted to discuss how to report it and compensate it, I was told overtime was mostly the employee's fault.
    - Mediatonic is originally a british company, but it has big teams both in London and Madrid (and smaller teams in different places). However, coordination between both offices is chaotic. Sometimes you need to skip Madrid's direction and ask people in London directly if you have some problem or need, or it might be ignored.

    =====================================================
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2023
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  11. PanthenEye

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  12. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Epic is providing a severance package that consists of six months of income and six months of healthcare as well as something to do with stock options and 401K plans. Getting laid off sucks but it sucks far less when you have a package like this.

    Best case if they find a job immediately that's six months of money they can put towards retirement, and worst case if they can't that's a six month paid vacation while they look. That's a very generous package compared to most companies which will only provide you with four weeks plus one for every year of service.

    https://www.epicgames.com/site/en-US/news/layoffs-at-epic

    Meanwhile Unity "promises" (we know how trustworthy that is) two months of pay and healthcare which is still on average better than the industry minimum but nowhere near as good as Epic.

    https://www.gamedeveloper.com/business/unity-is-reportedly-laying-off-hundreds-of-employees
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2023
  13. warthos3399

    warthos3399

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    The OP is over worried, due to Unity's current actions. Just because Unity had a problem, doesnt mean other engines will. Stop thinking you need to worry about the "company aspect", when you use a game engine, thats NOT your department.

    Your a game dev, pick an engine for your project, and get on with it. If i worried like you do about the "company aspect", id get nothing done on my projects, and its just waste time. Something devs are trying to save on, lol.
     
  14. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Alternatively if you just can't stop worrying there's always an open source engine like Godot or Stride.
     
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  15. tsibiski

    tsibiski

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    Epic won't resort to that any time soon. They will try to work on new games to catch that Fortnite lightning in a bottle. Game engines in general don't seem to be hugely profitable, because the amount of talent needed to make them great is expensive, and so few games meet revenue thresholds. They will go to customer-friendly ways of monetization first (like new IP's), and downsizing to stay under budget, before they dip into the poisoned well and raise rev share.
     
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  16. warthos3399

    warthos3399

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    No matter what... NOT developing a game with your own engine, is a big downside, and is one less profitable option on the board table. The problem here, is lack of any focus on the product itself...
     
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  17. PanthenEye

    PanthenEye

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    They won't try to repeat Fortnite. They can't. What they're doing is building a Roblox-like platform on top of Fortnite so it's evergreen and hopefully for them just as overvalued as Roblox. This has far-reaching implications for the engine as well and technically a business model shift.
     
  18. Rastapastor

    Rastapastor

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    So basically every CEO nowdays became stupid suddenly :).
     
  19. IllTemperedTunas

    IllTemperedTunas

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    In a roundabout way yes. The markets became more obsessed with stiff arming their content to the user and they forgot about putting out a quality product. Quality dropped off a cliff, users became brain washed into consuming crap. Companies started hiring massive #'s of people for financial incentives which gave rise to a pseudo Oligarchy/ Socialist paradigm. Funding was conjured out of the air and was funneled to any company that started hemorrhaging talent and replacing it with legions of mediocre marketing types, team leads, managers, people who don't actually put their head down, get work done, and improve the product.

    Fast forward 5 years, we now have idiot consumers who don't know how to find quality entertainment, and are conditioned to feed at the trough, but the content isn't worth engaging with any more even if it's free, so they're just leaving. You have large companies full of yes men who don't care about the product and only want to make their paycheck. And the CEO's realize how doomed everything is, so they're doing everything they can to just ride this dumpster fire as far as possible before it becomes totally obvious to everyone that everything we have built as a society is up in flames under their stewardship.

    They're now in an impossible situation, too many people on board they swore allegiance to who they can't get rid of. Can't make the product better because of too many political favors with others with power in the company who are utterly incompetent. Not making insane investor money anymore because all the idiots with the $$ are realizing this isn't going to pay off, or it's simply not sustainable to keep printing money forever.

    Any company like Epic has to find a thread of profits and hold on to it as tight as possible, because with the monopolies created by Google and Apple, they can prevent their users from every trying anything new from Epic, or anyone for that matter. We are living in an era where our phones now tell us what to buy, tell us what to like, what ot be interested in or outraged by. The organic userbase from which minecraft sprung, or fortnight, or anything really dies a bit every year. We are increasingly living in an artificial, astroturfed world where everyone is paid based on how much they smile and nod, not how hard you work, or what product you make, and the markets are reflecting that.

    How this all explodes in all of our faces is anyone's guess, the old days of one company going under and another thriving and carrying the torch is over, because the markets are totally sewn up by companies experiencing this exact problem, it's ubiquitous everywhere. I try to just tune it out as best I can and work on my project every day, but it sucks knowing the world has gone totally insane and who knows what the future holds.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2023
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  20. PanthenEye

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    Just a symptom of a failing system.
     
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  21. PanthenEye

    PanthenEye

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  22. Rastapastor

    Rastapastor

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  23. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    If you're talking about unity, then running a gamedev team costs money and does not necessarily generate profit.

    On other hand, unity has been buying stuff left and right and the amount they spent is larger than it would cost to make GTA 6.
     
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  24. DragonCoder

    DragonCoder

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    Except those deals likely had a lower risk than becoming a game studio...
    Wasn't it like less than 10% of all studios make profit?
    Unity hasn't bought random start ups as much as fairly stable companies instead.
     
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  25. IllTemperedTunas

    IllTemperedTunas

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    And how many game engine studios have successfully increased their head count by many factors and rapidly expanded into other markets with 0 experience of success in those industries before? In what world is this a safe bet? They've fumbled the Meta plays, the digital twin fiascos, their other business ventures have failed, the only fruits from their weta acquisitions has been archaic compositing software tools that we've seen. This is what they banked on to generate hype. If they had something cool cooking up NOW would be the time to show it.

    They have hemorrhaged BILLIONS in the past few years. By all means, show us this low risk, exciting side ventures they're taking that are so lucrative and sure to make $$$ to fund their burgeoning human capital. Look at Unreal, I just checked out the planned features link from in this thread. They are running circles around Unity. Can anyone link the upcoming features link for Unity? I'm not sure they have one, because they have learned that saying they're capable of accomplishing anything is now outside of their culture.

    It's a very uncertain future right now, it's anyone's ballgame who has the next big hit or game changing feature. Unreal struck gold with fortnight. That was a safe bet because they had fostered passionate people for years and let them experiment and do what they were good at, they invested into a very lucrative industry they were good at and had unique talents to engage with. That net them BILLIONS A YEAR. BILLIONS. One small team making one game (Albeit in their engine). Do you see the synergy here? What did Unity do in comparison, spread themselves thin and squandered all cultivated talent burning them out on hair brained schemes.

    I'll guarantee you this, it's not going to be Unity that comes out of nowhere with that killer new feature that changes the game. Expect more embarrassing promos about dated film composition tools from decades back if anything at all for many months, I fully expect every team within their walls to be jaded, phoning it in, and aspiring only to not be fired. This is the culture they have fostered with their greed, lack of vision, and incompetency. You don't simply bounce back from this state.I would LOVE to be proven wrong.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2023
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  26. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    It was enough money to make at least six GTA 6s.

    Given Unity's magnificient screwup with license terms at this point I'm not sure if becoming a gamedev studio was less risky than whatever it is they think they're doing.
     
  27. Rastapastor

    Rastapastor

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    Well te simple fact is...noone is safe :) when CEOs are in their bubble world blabbering about metaverse, ai, microtransactions etc.

    Even considering all the evils, I still think Epic is the lesser evil, because at least they invest a lot into their engine considering all the roadmaps etc (getting next gen terrain for instance. which i longed for in Unity for a long time now). I just hope the new price change Tim announced will not touch game devs in the future, he promised now it wont...but do not trust anyone :), keep ur options open always.

    Always invest some time into upskilling on other platforms (if u UE, play with Unity / Godot / Flax etc., if u use Unity play with UE / Flax / Godot), so when S*** hits the fan You have an option to bail out.
     
  28. Unifikation

    Unifikation

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    "fairly" and "stable" are doing some record levels of heavy lifting in that sentence. Impressive.

    At what point do you become somewhat objective about Unity's decision making?

    What's that line-in-the-sand that makes you rethink your optimism?
     
  29. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Tim Sweeney is one of the very few technically experienced CEOs. He was the sole developer of UE4 for the first few years. I don't have a habit of listening to his talks as he's difficult to listen to for long but he's not the average idiot CEO.

    You can invest time into other platforms but the most important thing to do is focus on learning how to pick up new ones rapidly. If you can do that you don't need to worry about switching platforms. Learning how to keep your logic separate as much as possible from the engine helps too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2023
  30. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Yep, this is the way. "Tools come and go".
     
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  31. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Sure, but similar stats apply to all businesses in general. Most businesses don't succeed. At the entry level game studios probably have a higher rate of commercial failure because many of them aren't commercially minded at all, but those aren't the ones anyone would be looking at buying.

    And could do exactly the same thing with game studios, if they wanted.
     
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  32. BornGodsGame

    BornGodsGame

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    The stupidity is not the layoffs, the stupidity is the tangential acquisitions that never pan out and result in the layoffs. I mean look at all the stupid crap both Unity and Unreal bought in the last 5 years. They are like 5 year olds getting birthday money. The layoffs actually make sense in the context of the stupid acquisitions that preceded them.
     
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  33. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    Concerned about what?
    They own a minority share in Epic, Tim Sweeney owns the majority.

    They're not going to be making any stupid decisions without Sweeney agreeing to them.
     
  34. tsibiski

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    I'm sure you also realize that owning a major percentage of a company gives you a direct line to the top and offers you extra powers of persuasion.
     
  35. Unifikation

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    There are only two owners.
     
  36. tsibiski

    tsibiski

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    What's your point?
     
  37. Unifikation

    Unifikation

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    That this is pointless.
     
  38. tsibiski

    tsibiski

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    Your reply is pointless... Why reply? o_O
     
  39. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Only in the sense of "we're going to sell all of this back to you if you don't do [x]".
     
  40. tsibiski

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    I don't think it's controversial to say that if someone sells you 40% of their company, then you have some amount of leverage over the course that company takes. That seems less than controversial... almost a given. But maybe I'm taking crazy pills.
     
  41. Ryiah

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    A majority shareholder has the final say over the minority. Tencent doesn't really have any power here. They're just an investor for all intents and purposes.

    https://www.pmllegal.com/minority-shareholder-rights-and-powers/
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2023
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  42. I think it's important to mention that board meetings are usually more "friendly" events and even the minority shareholders are capable of influence the majority shareholder through simple politics and peer pressure. Sure, they don't have the power to push through something the majority shareholders don't want, but they are there to voice direction.
     
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  43. Ryiah

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    Okay, but even with that it doesn't mean that Epic Games is going to be influenced by Tencent. I've been searching around for a complete list of the board of directors and as far as I've yet to find one with more than just Ben Feder and Tim Sweeney. Feder used to be with Tencent but he's since left them.

    https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/epic-games-2/people
    https://pitchbook.com/profiles/company/64901-80#board
     
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  44. tsibiski

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    I... I... I never said they had the final say. I said they have the ear of the majority owner... Owning such a large portion gives them sway. I don't understand why that is controversial. It seems so... objectively true. Maybe I really am on some crazy pills.
     
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  45. Ryiah

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    It's possible I might be too. :p
     
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  46. Don't worry, me too!

    BTW, one more thing, last, I promise: we shouldn't forget that Tencent isn't just the second largest investor in Epic, but one of the biggest potential client too. They bought up a S*** ton of game developer companies over the years. Again, it is not direct outvote of Tim, but a big influence, I'm sure. Not that Tim needs help to make stupid decisions, so... really, for what it's worth.
     
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  47. ippdev

    ippdev

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  48. DragonCoder

    DragonCoder

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    Not sure about US but in many EU countries, already 25% suffice for an unbendable veto right on decisions.
     
  49. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Epic, valve and ~facebook~ meta all feel the same existential threat, the closing of platform.

    The metaverse isn't just a buzzword for epic, it's a way to secure it's future and independence from platform holder locking the internet ecosystem. Like you can't sell and strategize without someone else dictating the terms.

    The whole VR for facebook/meta was a way to avoid being nuked by apple and google's whim, which is a threat to their existence.

    Valve was the older one feeling the threat, all investment they made on steam, steam machine, VR and steam deck are all about that. Initially it was to be independent from Microsoft trying to lock the PC ecosystem, in fact the entire reason half life exist was under the realization that DOOM was more widely installed than windows.

    More and more, it's impossible to start a business without a few holder controlling everything and calling the shoot, as nonsensical their move are. And the solution is to become one of "them", a big platform that call the shoot.
     
  50. tatoforever

    tatoforever

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Posts:
    4,361
    Tim explains the situation at the keynote opening:

    Basically, only 3% of engineering got layoff. I also like how Tim talks so transparently in the keynote. This is how you keep investors and userbase trust.
    Tim do care about Epic. He’s not just looking to make some cash and sellout.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2023
    IllTemperedTunas likes this.