Epic Games, maker of the mega-hit game “Fortnite” and the Unreal Engine used by many game developers and other tech professionals, is laying off 16 percent of its workforce.
According to Bloomberg, that will result in roughly 900 employees losing their jobs. At first glance, that might seem like a surprising move given the popularity of “Fortnite” and the Unreal Engine. But in a memo to employees, CEO Tim Sweeney suggested that the game’s revenues weren’t enough to offset the company’s expenses.
“For a while now, we’ve been spending way more money than we earn,” Sweeney wrote. “I have long been optimistic we could power through this transition without layoffs, but in retrospect I see that this was unrealistic.”
At first glance, this seems like a company-specific problem rather than a harbinger of renewed layoffs and shutdowns within the tech industry. At the beginning of the year, some of the biggest names in tech laid off tens of thousands of employees, including video game companies such as Unity, Riot Games, 343 Industries (maker of the “Halo” franchise), and more. However, many tech giants have begun to hire again, especially in critical areas such as artificial intelligence (A.I.).
Breaking into Video Games
Whatever Epic’s near-term fortunes, it doesn’t seem likely that Unreal Engine’s popularity will fade anytime soon. For many game developers, it’s part of an essential toolbox of skills that also includes Unity, another game development engine, and programming languages such as Python and C++. Here’s a list of the skills that pop up frequently in job postings for game developers:
- Game development (of course)
- Level design
- Epic Unreal Engine
- Adobe Photoshop
- Art Direction
- Microsoft C#
- 3D Modeling/Design
- Software Engineering
- Gaming Industry Knowledge
While there are more degree programs for game development than ever before, tech pros who consider themselves self-starters can learn about Unity via its own in-house education portal; there’s lots of documentation available for Unreal.
In addition, game developers should foster the following skills if they want to successfully navigate the challenges and problems of game development:
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity and originality
- Reasoning and problem solving
- Reliability and self-discipline
- Resilience and adaptability
Although the game development industry has a bit of a learning curve, anyone can become a game developer if they’re willing to put in the work, build up their skills and portfolios, and explore the opportunities out there. You could be the one who builds the next “Fortnite.”