Who is Tim Sweeney?

Timothy Dean Sweeney is an American businessman and video game developer who was raised in Potomac, Maryland. Sweeney is the current CEO of Epic Games and also the creator of the Unreal Engine game development platform.

Potomac Computer Systems

Whilst still a student at the University of Maryland, Sweeney, who was fascinated with computers and passionate about video games, founded Potomac Computer Systems in 1991.

Potomac Computer Systems was a consultancy service that assisted others with computer-related problems. That business model failed, but Sweeney then had the idea to create and sell video games. 

The first such title was ZZT, an action-adventure puzzle game that he refined over time with feedback from friends and family. Built in around six months and released under shareware, ZZT was somewhat of a commercial success.

At some point, Sweeney quit university and was making around $100 per day as he fulfilled mail orders from the basement of his parent’s home. 

Epic MegaGames

In search of a more apt name for a video game company, Sweeney decided that Potomac Computer Systems would become Epic MegaGames in 1992.

For his next title, dubbed Jill of the Jungle, he recruited co-founder Mark Rein and Cliff Bleszinski to help manage the company and design a series of new games respectively.

Over the next few years, Sweeney developed the Unreal Engine with the first product a 3D first-person shooter called Unreal. Released in 1998, the game was sufficiently popular that Sweeney was able to move out of his parent’s basement and quit his lawn-mowing side hustle.

He relocated the business to Cary, North Carolina, where it remains today. 


Epic MegaGames became Epic in 1999 to coincide with the move to Cary. 

In 2006, Epic released the Gears of War trilogy which signaled a shift in focus from PCs to consoles.

The franchise became the face of the company, selling more than 22 million units and grossing over $1 billion in revenue

In 2014, Microsoft purchased the rights to Gears of War for an undisclosed amount.

It was also around this time that Sweeney co-developed Unreal Tournament with Digital Extremes, an iteration of Unreal with a multiplayer focus.

Thanks to other successful franchises such as Infinity Blade and Shadow Complex, Chinese tech firm Tencent purchased a 40% stake in Epic in 2012 worth $330 million.

The extremely popular Fortnite series was later released in 2017 after six years of development. 


Sweeney has been recognized for his contributions to the gaming industry many times over.

In 2012, he was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) for his development of Unreal Engine and, as a studio, Epic’s commitment to innovation in consumer and industry-facing technology.

Sweeney also won the “Person of the Year” award at the Forbes Media Awards in 2020. There, he was praised for building Fortnite and turning the game into a social network in its own right.

Key takeaways

  • Timothy Dean Sweeney is an American businessman and video game developer who was raised in Potomac, Maryland. Sweeney is the current CEO of Epic Games and also the creator of the Unreal Engine game development platform.
  • Whilst still a student at the University of Maryland, Sweeney, who was fascinated with computers and passionate about video games, founded Potomac Computer Systems. The company started as a consultancy but was then used to sell video games.
  • Potomac Computer Systems became Epic MegaGames in 1992 and Sweeney hired addition talent to develop more titles and work on Unreal Engine which was first associated with the 1998 game Unreal. The following year, Epic MegaGames became Epic to coincide with the move to Cary, North Carolina.

Read also: How Much Money Has Fortnite Made?, Gaming Industry, EA Sports Business Model, How Does Discord Make Money

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Connected Business Concepts

EA Sports Business Model

EA Sports is among the largest gaming publishers, with a hybrid strategy of fully-owned games and licensed games distributed with a cross-platform approach. FIFA is the game that most contributes to its revenues and live services (Ultimate Team in particular) are the largest revenue contributors to EA revenues.

Gaming Industry

The gaming industry, part of the entertainment industry, is comprised of three main types of players. From game engines, which help developers build their games. To publishing gaming houses. And gaming consoles. While the prevailing business model for decades has been that of selling the console at cost, and make money on games. Digital games changed the way games are distributed and sold, and it opened up the way to free-to-play models.

Roblox Business Model

Roblox is an online gaming platform where users can create avatars and explore various gaming experiences. Each experience will be monetized based on how its developer has structured the game. For instance, free games allow users to spend the platform’s currency, called Robux, to get specific enhancements or purchase items like clothing accessories for the avatars, simulated gestures from the Roblox Avatar Marketplace. Therefore, Roblox makes money by earning a commission on each transaction and through its internal ad network.


Tencent is a Chinese multinational conglomerate founded in 1998 by Ma Huateng, Zhang Zhidong, and Xu Chenye. Among its various global subsidiaries are companies in the online services, music, and artificial intelligence industries. But it is perhaps best known for its interest in the video game sector – both as a game developer for the Chinese market and the acquirer of several established gaming companies. Tencent is a vast company with a stake in more than 600 companies. Following is a look at some of the companies and subsidiaries it has a majority stake in.

Epic Games Business Model

Epic Games is a gaming company, that develops, publishes, and distributes games. It comprises the Unreal Engine, making money through licensing agreements with developers and creators. Its games (like Fortnite) mostly follow a free-to-play model on PC and an in-app purchase model on the digital marketplace. And its storefront Epic Games Store, taking a 12% cut on games’ sales.

Free-To Play Business Model

A free-to-play is a model that became particularly popular in gaming. Free-to-play is also commonly referred to as free-to-start. For instance, companies like Epic Games have launched popular games like Fortnite’s Battle Royale, which had ingrained a free-to-play model. This is a model that become extremely popular in the digital age of gaming.

Play-To-Earn Business Model

The play-to-earn model is a business model allowing gamers to farm or collect cryptocurrency and NFTs that can be sold on the market. This model has become a standard already in the “crypto gaming industry,” where the blockchain-based games enable token economics to kick in as an incentives mechanism at scale for users to play and be engaged.

How Does Candy Crush Make Money?

Candy Crush Saga is a match-three puzzle video game developed and published by King, a company specializing in social network-based games. Businessman Riccardo Zacconi co-founded King in 2003 after selling a subscription dating service he had also founded several years previous. The initial source of income for King was advertising revenue, but this strategy was abandoned in 2013. Today, Candy Crush Saga uses the freemium model (free to play) of revenue generation.

Epic Games Flywheel

Above the example of how the free-to-play model combined with the multi-player mode enabled the quick spread of Fortnite.

Read also: Gaming Industry, Epic Games Business Model, How Much Money Has Fortnite Made, EA Sports Business Model

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