Tim Sweeney says Fortnite Token cryptocurrency is 'a scam'

Tim Sweeney
(Image credit: Bloomberg (Getty Images))

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says a newly-announced cryptocurrency called Fortnite Token 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:

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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."

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."

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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."

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. "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 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 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, 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.

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Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.