Epic Games chief creative officer Donald Mustard is stepping down. The industry veteran, instrumental in guiding Fortnite to immense popularity, said he will retire at the end of September. “I have enjoyed nearly 25 years in the game industry collaborating with some of the most talented people ever and I am so proud of what we have made together,” the 47-year-old wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Mustard co-founded ChAIR Entertainment in 2005 with his brother Geremy Mustard, Ryan Holmes and others. The developer launched the subaqueous shooter Undertow on Xbox Live Arcade in 2007 and the Metroidvania title Shadow Complex two years later. Epic bought ChAIR Entertainment in 2008, and the studio soon unveiled Infinity Blade, a trilogy of iOS games showcasing the growing graphical prowess of Apple’s early mobile devices, using simple dodge-and-attack gameplay reminiscent of the NES classic Punch-Out!!
He was promoted to Epic’s worldwide creative director in 2016. Fortnite launched the following year and quickly became one of gaming’s biggest 21st-century success stories. The title’s Battle Royale mode transformed it into a cultural phenomenon, as it emerged on nearly every platform, including PC, consoles and mobile. Fortnite passed 350 million registered players in 2020 and remains one of the most ubiquitous games today (especially among younger players) while spawning countless copycats.
“Fortnite will never be ‘finished,’ the creative director posted on Twitter last December. “The whole idea is that it’s a living, breathing PLACE.”
After an incredible adventure, I will be retiring from my role as Chief Creative Officer at Epic this month.
I have enjoyed nearly 25 years in the game industry collaborating with some of the most talented people ever and I am so proud of what we have made together. From the… pic.twitter.com/9KJT9Jg2jr
— Donald Mustard (@DonaldMustard) September 8, 2023
Although Mustard didn’t detail his reasons for retiring now, his X post lavished praise on his years with ChAIR and Epic. “From the ambitious Advent Rising, to the start of ChAIR where we created Undertow, Shadow Complex, and the Infinity Blade trilogy, to the honor of our tiny team becoming part of Epic, each new chapter allowed me to accomplish something new and original,” he posted on X. “I am especially proud of the opportunity I’ve had to help create and shape Fortnite.”
“I am humbled to have been a part of the team that every day tries to bring ‘joy and delight’ to the Fortnite community!” Mustard continued. “We love watching you experience every moment — leaping from the Battle Bus for the very first time, seeing the rocket crack open the sky, dancing with friends after a Victory Royale, being sucked into a black hole or being washed out to sea as The Island flipped over — and on and on! I can’t wait to now share in the future of Fortnite as a player alongside all of you! The teams are in the best hands and they are working on huge, jaw dropping, amazing things!!!”
Mustard added that he plans to enjoy more domestic time for now. “I’m excited to spend time with my wife and family and am forever grateful for @TimSweeneyEpic and the Epic Games family,” the outgoing creative director wrote.