Fortnite isn't just the most popular video game of 2018. The battle royale phenomenon also transformed youth culture, captivating teenagers, star athletes and musicians and late night television alike. But the most delighted of all must surely be the heads of Epic Games. Even though the game is free to play, the company is reportedly profiting very handsomely indeed.
According to a “source with knowledge of the business” speaking to TechCrunch, Epic made $3 billion in profit in 2018. Of course, though Epic continues to license the Unreal Engine, and sell other titles such as Gears of War, this massive profit is largely down to Fortnite Battle Royale, which was released in September 2017, but became a world-straddling juggernaut in 2018 as it rolled out to Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch. Cross-platform play is a notable draw for players that not only play for the thrills but use the game as a kind of social network to hang out and communicate with their peers, whatever their preferred gaming machine.
Epic Games is holding its cards close to its chest and a complete breakdown of earnings across different platforms isn’t available, but it's clear that Fortnite's in-app purchases model, which avoids pay-to-win mechanics in favor of prestigious cosmetic items, is doing very well indeed.
Data firm Sensor Tower estimates that iOS players spent $1.23 million daily on the title in November alone, with a grand total of $385 million earned just on iOS in 2018. On Android, Epic Games was confident enough to buck the near-monopoly of the Google Play Store, with Google potentially losing out on $50 million or more because of this.
Interestingly, Epic's profits still don't include anything from the lucrative Chinese market, as, despite partnership with Chinese tech giant Tencent, a hold on video game license approvals means it’s unable to generate revenue from the title at the moment. But once this snowball gets rolling, no doubt it will pay off in the long term for Epic and Tencent alike.
Epic Games has a lot to be proud of when it comes to Fortnite, a perfect storm of compelling gameplay, art direction, fresh updates and monetization model. But the company isn't resting on its laurels. The Epic Games Store has seen the company become a distribution platform which takes a shot at the big dogs like steam by offering developers a bigger cut of the revenue, and free monthly premium titles for gamers.
2018 has seen Epic rise from a respected company among many in the gaming niche to a giant that can take on Google and win. Will 2019 see its star continue to rise, or do you think the Fortnite fad will decline fast?