One game that has maintained its popularity longer than Halo, or Call of Duty, or PUBG, is Fortnite. Ever since its release in July 2017, it has grown its fan base exponentially to more than 125 million users worldwide. In fact, there are more Fortnite players than any gaming platform, or platforms combined. Fortnite came at a time when the gaming industry developed new mainstream avenues for consumption. Consequently, it became one of the biggest—if not the biggest—massive multiplayer online (MMO) game in the history of gaming.
Developed by Epic Games, Fortnite has two different iterations, Fortnite: Save the World and Fortnite Battle Royale. However, both games have the same mechanics and the same rich and dynamic graphics. Players fight for the top spot by shooting, fighting other players, and building worlds. But why is Fortnite so popular?
First, Fortnite is a free game that is available on different devices and consoles—iOS and Android devices, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, and MacOS. Games usually cost at least $30, depending on the platform. With new releases each month, playing Fortnite games can be quite an expensive hobby.
Second, it’s addictive. Like the premise of movies Hunger Games or Battle Royale, you fight for your own survival. The game gathers 100 players together in a specific area, where you can kill other players with a slew of weapons, protect yourself by building forts, pick up all sorts of loot, all to stay alive. Players are forced to eliminate each other as a “storm” confines them further as the game proceeds. The last player standing wins the game.
Third, Fortnite harnesses the strengths of games like PUBG, Call of Duty, and Minecraft. It’s a shooter game that allows players to use their creativity to survive and add to the rich interface of its gameplay. You can build stairs on a mountain, construct a fort in the middle of the map. There is no limit on what you can do to survive.
Fourth, it is appropriate for all ages. While teens aged 15-17 make up the majority of its audience, it is also popular among adults. It is a video game that families can play together as it’s intuitive and thoroughly enjoyable.
The studio behind Fortnite, Epic Games, currently has a valuation of $15 billion. In its latest funding, it raised $1.25 billion, led by KKR private equity. Before Microsoft bought the company, it was valued at $660 million. This was also when Tencent bought a 48% stake in the company.
A year after the game’s release in 2017, it attracted about 80 million players already. The game is free, but players can buy V-bucks, Fortnite’s digital currency, which is used to customize their avatars. As a result, players have spent more than $1 billion on in-app purchases.
How to Make Money Playing Video Games
Online gaming has given birth to a new way for inclusivity—live streaming gameplay through YouTube and Twitch. While not exclusive to just Fortnite, these two streaming video platforms also enjoy a whole lot of engagement from live streaming players from different games. These include DOTA 2, League of Legends, Red Dead Redemption, Halo, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Hearthstone. People who live stream their gameplay easily garner thousands, even millions of views each time. Fortnite is one of the most streamed and viewed video games on YouTube and Twitch.
Fortnite has a huge following, and its top streamers actually earn from the thousands and millions of their live stream views. They know how to make money playing video games by providing commentary, instructions, tips, and engaging storytelling to their fans and viewers. This essentially creates a community around the games. To some of these content creators, being a gamer is their full-time job. They earn from the views and subscriber count on their channels, sponsorships, endorsements, sales, merchandise, donations from followers, ads, and entering video game competitions.
The biggest Fortnite gamer and streamer is Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a 26-year old YouTuber, and Twitch streamer, commonly known as “Ninja”. Blevins has more than 19 million subscribers on YouTube, and 12 million followers on Twitch, and earns about $560,000 a month on Twitch. Other gamers like DrLupo have a yearly revenue of $2 million. The tenth highest gamer is TSM_Myth, who earns an estimated $1.3 million every year.
But these gamers are more exceptions than the rule. Many other gamers stream games and are also YouTube content creators, but they don’t earn as much. These gamers are actually also business people or are surrounded by people who manage them.
Gaming Industry Skyrocketing
People used to think that video games are frivolous hobbies that are detrimental to players’ overall health. Studies about “internet gaming disorder” – a form of gaming addiction, have surfaced over the years as the number of players in the U.S. alone has reached millions. This, however, is still a much-debated topic even among experts. Today, people are more aware that playing video games as a hobby is not indicative of a person’s failures and successes in life.
The gaming industry has exponentially improved since the days of the humble Nintendo Entertainment System. As of 2017, the gaming entertainment industry had an impressive estimated revenue of more than $36 billion. It is bigger than the US box office earnings of 2017, which came in at about $11 billion.
Gaming is a behemoth of a business. Apart from the billions of gamers and patrons, the industry is a major employer for artists, software and game designers, programmers, producers, and sales and marketing professionals. It has created a lot of jobs that weren’t even around in the past ten years.
The gaming industry has also created jobs for professional, full-time gamers. They join national and international electronic sports tournaments, sponsored by gaming companies and other organizations. And they stand to win hundreds of thousands and even millions. These players have a huge following These eSports events gather players and enthusiasts all over the world the way huge boxing matches would.
The Fortnite Effect
The gaming industry is growing stronger, and won’t let up anytime soon. What Fortnite has taught us is that the industry appreciates and encourages a new formula in gaming. It has become its own cultural and social phenomenon, bringing together people of all backgrounds from all over the world. It is a game with depth, yet accessible; sophisticated, yet enjoyable. It lets players—both casual and professional—accomplish something while still being their own individuals. Not too many other games have accomplished what Fortnite has. Based on its smart design, shareability timed events, and what it represents to a lot of people, Fortnite will be part of people’s lexicon all over the globe.