How the world’s most popular video games runs on open-source tech.


SEATTLE — You might think that the only thing more exhilarating than playing Fortnite is being responsible for uptime on a game with 200 million registered users that raked in $300 million in revenue in a single month.

You’d be wrong. The game credited with being so addictively fun it’s sending some users into rehab isn’t keeping those who run it up at night.

“It turns out that scaling a video game isn’t that different than scaling any other successful product,” says Paul Sharpe, principal cloud engineering developer at Epic Games, maker of Fortnite, who shared his story about the move to Kubernetes at the press and analyst briefing at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America. “It’s the same sets of challenges.”

Sharpe’s tenure at Epic — a little over a year — coincides with the explosive growth of the game. His previous tours of duty in tech include Twitter, Amazon Web Services and Amazon.

Just like a lot of businesses, he says that modern game development is “actually a whole lot of micro-services,” adding that Epic was already heavily invested in AWS, “all in on public cloud” and employed containerization tech such as Docker. Sharpe describes Epic as a “big Linux shop” where the micro-services (some REST-ful, others not) are written in a number of languages, including Java and Scala.

“Moving to Kubernetes was a natural evolution of our workloads,” Sharpe says. “It basically comes down to trying to improve our developer’s lives.” Right now, the devs have to do a lot manually,  including things like EC2 instances and load balancers. “K8s lets us provide abstractions so they don’t have to deal with that directly and focus on problems they need to solve.” They currently use Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS.)

In terms of other cloud native tech, Sharpe says they’re currently working with Prometheus, FluentD, InfluxData and Telegraf. What’s next? As observability becomes a major focus, his team is “very interested” in OpenTracing as well as Jaeger and Zipkin but “haven’t fully decided on that yet.” In terms of metrics, they’re just getting started with Kubernetes, the clusters right now are “pretty small” but Epic is “ramping up into production as we speak.”

“We’re a big game company but we’re small in the amount of resources that we have to manage these kinds of things,” he says.


The Linux Foundation provided travel and accommodation.

Cover photo // CC BY NC