ESports: Fortnite World Cup Finals. Picture: Reuters
INTERNATIONAL - Epic Games Inc., the closely held video-game company behind the global hit Fortnite, will now be studied at Harvard Business School.

The university published one of its famous case studies last week on the company, which was founded in 1991 by computer programmer Tim Sweeney.

The case study focuses less on Fortnite, which took in an estimated $2.4 billion last year, and more on the company’s introduction in December of the Epic Games Store, an online video-game retailer. 

That business challenges Steam, a division of closely held Valve Corp., with an online marketplace that promises game developers a greater share of revenue.

“Should Epic Games continue to pursue becoming a platform?” the study asks, contrasting that with its development of highly lucrative products like Fortnite and the Unreal Engine game software. “Was it sensible to do both?”

The study charts Epic Games’ history from its inception in Sweeney’s parents’ home to the creation of the Unreal Engine, as well as hit games such as Gears of War and Fortnite. 

With the latter’s 2017 release, the company shook up the video-game industry with a title that was free and playable across multiple platforms, from game consoles to mobile phones. Last year Epic raised $1.25 billion from investors including KKR, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and aXiomatic Gaming.

Andy Wu, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard, and Christopher Zhang, a recent graduate of Swarthmore College, prepared the case study based on already published sources. A spokesman for Epic said the company wasn’t involved and Sweeney, who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, has no plans to speak at the school.

The new Fortnite map. Picture: Epic Games