Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says a newly-announced cryptocurrency called Fortnite Token (opens in new tab) is “a scam,” and warned that the company is preparing legal action to shut it down. The creators of Fortnite Token have pushed back, however, describing it as a fan-created project “with no specified owner or company structure behind it.”
Fortnite Token first appeared at the end of 2021, and there was no mistaking its attempt to tie itself to Epic’s mega-hit battle royale:
Despite that big, bright “F,” Fortnite Token maintained a relatively low-profile presence until today, when Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney apparently caught wind of a May 29 invitation to “start minting your NFT creations on nftoken site and sell on OpenSea,” and replied bluntly, “That’s a scam (opens in new tab).”
But rather than pulling the plug and heading for the hills, the crypto-team stood its ground. “Fortnite Token isn’t a scam cryptocurrency project,” it replied. “Instead, this is a fair-launch, community-driven, Fortnite game fans-created cryptocurrency project with no specified owner or company structure behind it or a CEO deciding on its future.”
Sweeney, who seems to have a lot of free time on his hands for a guy who’s the CEO and principal shareholder of a multi-billion-dollar company with, one would assume, a fairly beefy legal department, picked up the gauntlet. “That’s not how trademarks and copyrights work though,” he answered. “You can’t use the Fortnite name and images without permission to market an unrelated product.”
That’s not how trademarks and copyrights work though. You can’t use the Fortnite name and images without permission to market an unrelated product.June 6, 2022
He did, shortly thereafter, invoke the spectre of the Epic legal department, repeating the assertion that Fortnite Token is a scam and adding that “Epic’s lawyers are on it (opens in new tab).”
That wasn’t the end of it, however. Sweeney dug back through Fortnite Token’s tweets and replied with some variation of “this is a scam” to no fewer than nine of them, going as far back as early February. Yet while Sweeney obviously takes a very dim view of Fortnite Token, his enthusiasm for cryptocurrency in general appears to be undiminished.
“When new technology emerges, some put it to good use, and others put it to bad use,” he tweeted (opens in new tab). “It would be terribly shortsighted to ban an entire field of technology for such a reason.”
That fits with Sweeney’s past position on the subject: He said in October 2021 that while Epic won’t be incorporating cryptocurrency in its own games, it “will welcome games that make use of blockchain tech (opens in new tab) provided they follow the relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by an appropriate group.”
“As a technology, the blockchain is just a distributed transactional database with a decentralized business model that incentivizes investment in hardware to expand the database’s capacity. This has utility whether or not a particular use of it succeeds or fails.”
Epic’s position stands in stark contrast to that of Valve, which in December 2021 banned “applications built on blockchain technology (opens in new tab) that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs” from Steam. Unfortunately, Epic’s friendly policy toward blockchain games doesn’t appear to be off to a roaring start: The Epic Store’s first NFT game, Grit, (opens in new tab) is a cowboy battle royale that’s a little more “what in tarnation” than “yeehaw, partner!””
Epic Games declined to comment on the matter beyond Sweeney’s statements on Twitter.