BAFTA doesn’t hand out special awards for games all that often – just a handful of people have received them in the past – but Epic Games is set to join this exclusive list, with recognition for its technological contributions to the games industry.
In a blog post announcing the award, BAFTA explained Epic Games had become a “world-renowned industry leader and innovator”, pointing to Gears of War, Fortnite and Unreal Engine as examples of its work.
“[Epic’s] pioneering Unreal Engine, founded 20 years ago, has underpinned some of the most successful and critically acclaimed games, including BAFTA-winning titles Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, What Remains of Edith Finch, Rocket League, Mass Effect, BioShock and the Arkham series,” the post states.
Dr. Jo Twist, chair of BAFTA’s games committee, said Epic was “at the forefront of the evolution of the global games industry” and the impact of its innovation was “undeniable”.
“Having powered the creativity and imaginations of development teams of all sizes over the years – many of whom have gone on to win BAFTAs – it’s right to mark their huge contribution with this Special Award as part of BAFTA’s commitment to celebrating and promoting the very best in games,” she added.
Later in the blog post, Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney wrote the company was “honoured that BAFTA has awarded Unreal Engine for excellence in technology, and we share this recognition with our partners and the creative community”.
The award will be collected by Sweeney during this year’s E3 proceedings (on Wednesday 12th June, if you want to mark that in your calendar).
While Epic has made a huge impact on the games industry and clearly deserves credit for many of its products (particularly the easily-accessible and almost universally acclaimed Unreal Engine 4), the timing of this award leaves much to be desired. Just a few weeks ago, Polygon reported on severe crunch problems surrounding the development of Fortnite, while the Epic Games Store continues to be labelled as anti-consumer for its exclusivity deals. This award will likely stir up some of those same conversations again.
Past winners of the award include voice actor Nolan North, plus Brandon Beck and Marc Merill on behalf of Riot Games (which didn’t age well), game director Amy Hennig, and game designers Brenda Romero and Markus “Notch” Persson (the latter of which also didn’t age well). BAFTA certainly has a nose for picking controversial winners.