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Epic’s new Unreal Editor for Fortnite is allowing creators to reach the battle royale’s audience with their own maps. While many studios have launched maps, no one has revealed the potential reach of the platform… until today.
Ali “SypherPK” Hassan is one of Fortnite’s most popular creators. Alongside wife and business partner Daniela Ali, the pair founded production company Oni Studios where Ali serves as CEO. Earlier this year, the pair founded a subsidiary game development arm SuperJoy Studios. Leaning on SypherPK’s reach with Fortnite fans and passion for the title, SuperJoy specializes in developing for Fortnite’s UEFN platform. In June, the company launched its most ambitious project yet — a live-service map called Rocket Wars.
While interest in the UEFN platform grows, SuperJoy Studios gave GamesBeat an exclusive early look at the success of this creator-led project.
In its first 30 days, Rocket Wars garnered 5 million hours of playtime. This translates to a daily average of over 160,000 hours played per day in this period. For comparison, this total playtime is similar to that of Among Us and Hollow Knight on Steam (at the time of writing).
Critically, Rocket Wars popularity is growing thanks in part to its marketing activations and crosspromotions on SypherPK’s channels. In the most recent week of data, Rocket Wars averaged 28% more playtime and 15% more players per day than during its first full launch week.
This performance shows the potential reach of a top map on the UEFN platform. Moreover, Rocket Wars sets a critical benchmark for other creator-led UEFN projects.
Creator-led game development
SuperJoy Studios is a key element in SypherPK long term plan as a content creator. As Fortnite’s viewership has leveled out (especially post-pandemic), SuperJoy Studios allows Hassan to differentiate his content and solidify a niche as a creator. In turn, the long-term vision of SuperJoy’s maps is designed to support SypherPK’s content flywheel.
Ultimately, the team wants to differentiate itself by applying its new media roots to its game development process. Having SypherPK’s creative vision and loyal audience is a clear advantage for developing and marketing the studio’s projects. Moreover, Hassan and Ali’s experience running Oni Studios has shaped the structure and process of its development team.
“We have a video production department, we have a marketing department, but they don’t operate like a marketing agency or production company. It has to be tailored to our industry which has a lot of nuances. Everything is done the traditional way, but with simplified processes because there’s no room for things to be overcomplicated,” Ali told GamesBeat.
This need to streamline has impacted how SuperJoy iterates on its concepts and design as well as the team itself. SuperJoy Studios is aiming for an experience that keeps players entertained but can adapt quickly to its audiences. This is a tall order for developers on a small team, meaning hiring critical for success. This is made more complicated with how new the UEFN platform is, but SuperJoy values developers that worked on other live service titles.
“We’re trying to test the bandwidth of what is possible with the select few team members we have. We look for developers that are extremely agile, creative and passionate to navigate this uncharted territory in the games industry,” Ali said. “Right now, we’re focused on building a fleshed out base product with a long-term gameplay and social media strategy, so but we have to be quickly adaptable to what the market wants. We try to put out bits and pieces quickly, whether it be in the game itself or on social media.”
This smaller development team is still pushing the boundaries of UEFN while leveraging creator expertise in its game design. For example, Rocket Wars creates sharable moments and hype through its rare ending screens.
These vary in rarity, some having as rare as a 1 in 10,000 or even a 1 in 100,000 chance of showing up. On top of this, the rarest ending gives the player a golden ticket from SypherPK and an invite to an exclusive community tournament. The endings were an opportunity to collaborate with other community figures and create content for SypherPK’s channel (which then drove players back to Rocket Wars).
While the map is successful, the team has learned a lot since it went live on June 16, 2023.
One example is the pace of updates. Initially, SuperJoy planned to update Rocket Wars weekly to match Fortnite’s update cadence. Since the title launched, Epic Games’ moderation system for UEFN maps made the company rethink this approach. Epic must balance safety with speed to protect users, but this impacts how quickly developers can launch updates. Last week, SypherPK announced that the map would stop updating at weekly to improve discoverability.
Additionally, Ali mentioned that team wished it had leaned into its community connections earlier. “We should have looked at our UEFN experiences in a similar light and methodology as we do with our Fortnite content. Similar, I wish we had reflected on how we get feedback and communicate calls-to-action and events with our audience sooner. It’s not exactly one-for-one between our content and Rocket Wars, but it’s very similar.”
Currently, SuperJoy is looking to push the boundaries of UEFN with its next map and put its own twist on the battle royale genre. Ali teased that the team was looking to experiment with both movement mechanics and an internal economy to gate upgrades for the team’s next map. While the team has 12 developers, SuperJoy Studios is looking to hire 35 more developers to fuel growth.
“Everything we’re building now is intended to spark growth. This is just the initial phase of the games we can develop, but there will be many more features coming out over the next two years. Our vision is bigger than what we’re capable of making now,” Ali said. “Being too experimental fails almost every time, but we want to dream big within the boundaries we have from both the community and the engine itself.”