How Does Fortnite Make Money? All the Ways the Free Video Game Cashes in on Its 200 Million Players
More than a year after its release, the world is still talking about Fortnite — and for good reason.
The battle royale video game played by more than 200 million people is free, but it's generating a ton of money. In 2018 alone, Fortnite blew past $1 billion in revenue, made at least one streamer a multimillionaire and even inspired an online money laundering scam. Cash is continuing to trickle in as new seasons, or versions of gameplay, launch and players spend real dollars to improve their characters' appearances. Gamers themselves are making bank from sponsorships, subscriptions and coaching sessions.
"The size of the splash it made is bigger than anything we’ve ever seen," Joost van Dreunen, CEO of the SuperData games research firm, told NBC News.
As 2019 gets underway and Season 7 wraps up, here's what you need to know about Fortnite's finances.
How Does Fortnite Make Money?
Fortnite doesn't cost money to play, but it sure generates a lot of cash. The game sells V-Bucks, which go for $9.99 per 1,000 and can be spent on customization items. Players use V-Bucks to buy emotes, which are dance moves, and skins, which are outfits and accessories.
You can also buy Battle Passes, which unlock various rewards dependent upon season.
Spending money on Fortnite is far from rare. A LendEDU survey discovered that nearly 70% of players said they'd made in-game purchases, with the average person splashing out $84.67 total between July 2017 and June 2018.
How Much Money Has Fortnite Made in Total?
A lot, though it's hard to know for sure. TechCrunch reports that Fortnite creator Epic Games brought in $3 billion in profit last year, but that figure comes from an anonymous source and includes all of the company's projects. Epic Games also made Gears of War, Infinity Blade, Shadow Complex and Unreal, as well as the Unreal Engine, a set of tools for game developers.
As far as Fortnite specifically, we know that it passed $1 billion in revenue way back in July after a series of $300 million-plus months.
Fortnite made $455 million from the Apple App Store alone in 2018, according to Sensor Tower. And it wasn't even available the whole year — the app dropped in March. The revenue averages out to $1.6 million a day and counting. December was the Fortnite app's best month, bringing in $69 million.
What Is Fortnite's Net Worth?
The Wall Street Journal reports that Epic Games has a nearly $15 billion valuation and counts Kleiner Perkins, Walt Disney Co. and Tencent Holdings among its investors. Again, that's not just Fortnite, but it speaks to the game's explosive popularity.
What's Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney's Net Worth?
Bloomberg says Sweeney's total net worth is $7.18 billion. He's in the top 200 richest people in the world, and he likes to spend his fortune on luxury cars and wilderness conservation.
Can You Make Money Playing Fortnite?
Yes, you can make money playing video games. Twitch is free to use, but viewers can pay up to $24.99 a month for subscriptions that provide benefits like custom emotes and other perks. Streamers typically split this revenue 50/50 with the company. Fortnite streamers can also make money from virtual tipping services like StreamElements and Streamlabs, the latter of which says it processed $141 million in donations to gamers in 2018.
Fortnite is making a splash in the e-sports community, as well. Third-party sites regularly host online matches with small cash awards, and Epic Games announced in May that it planned to devote $100 million to Fortnite tournament prize pools. At least one college student has landed a Fortnite scholarship. Others are selling their services as Fortnite tutors or putting their Fortnite accounts up for sale (even though Epic Games doesn't allow that).
How Much Money Does Ninja Make from Fortnite?
Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, a preeminent Fortnite player with crazy-colored hair, told CNN he earned roughly $10 million in 2018. He said he streamed over 3,800 hours of Fortnite during 2018, which means he was pocketing about $2,600 an hour before taxes. Accordingly, Ninja's net worth is $10 million.
Where did all that cash come from? Well, he gets a cut of subscribers' fees on Twitch, where he's said he produces a "combination of high-tier game play that [viewers] really can't get with a lot of other content creators." Subscriber numbers aren't public, but Ninja has a gigantic audience, with more than 13 million followers on Twitch and 21 million on YouTube. All of those followers also make him valuable to advertisers; he's raking in lucrative sponsorships with companies like Doritos and Samsung.
On the side, Ninja sells merchandise — the official Team NINJA zip-up costs $60 — and has dropped an album.
Can You Buy Fortnite Gift Cards?
V-bucks are a hot commodity. A recent survey by Piper Jaffray found that teens wanted cryptocurrency and V-bucks rather than cash for the holidays. But as How-ToGeek explains, Fortnite does not offer gift cards directly. In order to give someone V-bucks, you need a workaround: Buy a gift card for the console he or she is playing on.
However, players and parents alike should be on alert for V-buck scams. An investigation by The Independent recently discovered that people have been using stolen credit card numbers to buy V-bucks and resell them to unsuspecting players.