"Fortnite: Battle Royale," the free video game mode that took the world by storm last autumn, is a billion dollar business. That's according to a new report by SuperData, which estimates that the game has generated more than $1 billion (about R13.5 billion) in revenue across all platforms.
For some perspective, this means that Fortnite has now made more money than several of last year's highest worldwide-grossing blockbuster films, including "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," Marvel Studios' "Spider-Man: Homecoming," and "Wonder Woman;" and more than double the gross worldwide earnings of the latest Star Wars flick, "Solo."
The report points out that the revenue comes entirely from in-game purchases, which — in Fortnite's case — offer no competitive advantage to the game.
In the game, an entirely optional $10 (R135) Battle Pass allows players to earn and collect in-game currency called V-bucks, which they can spend on costumes, accessories and dance moves for their playable character. But if you don't want to play the game enough to unlock these perks, you can also purchase more V-bucks with real bucks, at a rate of 1,000 V-bucks for $9.99.
The most expensive character outfits — called "skins" in the gaming world — go for 2,000 V-bucks, or $20.
Fortnite was not the first game to bring the battle royale genre the to the masses. Games like DayZ, H1Z1, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds popularised the "Hunger Games"-style formula, in which a hundred players are dropped onto a shrinking play area, and must scavenge for weapons and supplies in an effort to be the last man standing.
At launch, the game was available for PC and PlayStation 4. Today, it can be played for free on PCs, any gaming console, and on mobile iOS devices.
Fortnite: Battle Royale was first introduced as a free-to-play, early access mode of the original "Fortnite" title, a $60 zombie survival game that creators at Epic Games had been developing for more than five years.
The "Battle Royale" mode has now become vastly more popular than the original game — so much so that it is widely referred to with the full game's shorter title — thanks in large part to attention from celebrities and a large group of prominent video game streamers, like Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, who play the game on live streaming platforms like Twitch or YouTube Gaming for millions of fans to watch.
Fortnite has, in turn, helped Blevins, a former professional esports athlete, become a celebrity in his own right, complete with multi-million-dollar sponsorships, official merchandise, and an invitation to the 2018 ESPY Awards.
Since Fortnite has skyrocketed the battle royale genre to worldwide popularity, several other video game series have sought to emulate their success, and they're right to do so. SuperData predicts that games which feature a battle royale mode will earn 12 percent of all gaming revenue in 2018. Most notably, the upcoming instalment of "Call of Duty: Black Ops" will feature the franchise's first take on battle royale.
The data shows that Fortnite saw its largest spike in players early this year, and at the time, many speculated that the free game was simply experiencing a fleeting moment of hype that would quickly dissipate.
Today, ten months after its launch in 2017, Fortnite is still the most-streamed and most-watched game on Twitch, an this impressive benchmark has placed the game among the most popular video games of all time, and signals that Fortnite is going to continue to be very profitable for a very long time.
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