Fortnite Usage and Revenue Statistics (2019)

Mansoor Iqbal

Updated: November 27, 2019

Fortnite refers to a videogame series, set in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world. It is produced by Epic Games, and uses the company’s signature Unreal Engine. At present, there are two games that fall under the Fortnite umbrella: a team-based survival shooter called Fortnite: Save the World and Fortnite: Battle Royale, which as the name suggests is a last-person-standing game.

The former was released in a paid-for early access version in July 2017. A free-to-play version was anticipated in 2019, but has not yet materialised despite rumours. It is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and macOS.

It is the latter, however, which has been the real runaway success, becoming one of the most-played games on the planet. The player-vs-player, free-to-play game, launched in September 2017 is available on iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch as well as the aforementioned platforms, and can be played across platforms. It sees up to 100 players competing individually or in teams to be the last one/ones standing, combining shooting and construction elements.

While being free-to-play, a range of in-app purchases are available; largely access to cosmetic updates to players’ characters, which are released in limited-editions over 12-week seasons. Players must convert money into in-game currency Vinderbucks (V-Bucks) to make these purchases. Each of these seasons has a loose narrative plot, and Epic is known to introduce a range of different game modes to add variation, featuring different team-compositions or special add-ons.

Since its launch, millions of players have downloaded the game, which brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to its creators every month. It was even big enough to score an official crossover with Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame (the latter was actually a two-way crossover).

Chapter 2 of Fortnite: Battle Royale was rolled out in October 2019, with a new map to explore and a raft of new features. Naturally, records were broken…

To see just how many people play Fortnite and just how much money it brings in, as well as more Fortnite statistics and facts, read on. Unless otherwise specified, Fortnite will be used to refer to the Battle Royale game.

Table of Contents

Fortnite User Statistics

Fortnite Usage Statistics

Fortnite Revenue Statistics

Key Fortnite Statistics

  • 250 million Fortnite players in total (March 2019)
  • 78.3 million Fortnite players in August 2018 – the single-month record
  • Record for concurrent players stands at 8.3 million, recorded October 2018
  • Fortnite reached 100 million iOS downloads within five months
  • Launch of Fortnite Chapter 2 saw content delivery network Akamai’s traffic peaking at 106 Tbps – over twice the usual daily figure
  • Newzoo find that 53% of Fortnite players were aged 10-25
  • 62.7% of Fortnite players (excluding those younger than 18) are aged 18-24 according to one analysis, while another finds 45.75% fall into this age bracket
  • The same two analyses found that either 72.4% or 83.7% of Fortnite players are male
  • There were no female players at the Fortnite World Cup finals in July 2019
  • 36% of Fortnite players consider themselves to be ‘core gamers’
  • 53% of US Fortnite players don’t play any other major battle royale titles
  • Median weekly time spent playing Fortnite stands at 6-10 hours
  • In October 2018 Fortnite was viewed for 67.7 million hours on Twitch (the second-highest total), and 42.4 million hours on YouTube (the highest figure)
  • In July 2018, 148 million hours of Fortnite were viewed on Twitch
  • During that month, concurrent viewers numbered 205,259
  • The average number of concurrent broadcasters peaked in January 2019, at 13,715
  • Record number of concurrent Fortnite viewers was logged in October 2019, coinciding with the black hole event to mark the coming of Chapter 2, at 7 million
  • Ninja counts 22.4 million YouTube subscribers,
  • Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins and Drake’s team-up drew 635,000 concurrent viewers
  • Ninja reportedly earns $500,000/month from streaming Fortnite over YouTube and Twitch
  • Kyle Giersdorf, aka Bugha, is the biggest earner from tournaments, by virtue of his $3 million prize for winning the Fortnite World Cup in July 2019
  • $30 million in total handed out during the Fortnite World Cup, drawn from $100 million prize pot for 2019
  • Fortnite World Cup concurrent viewership peaked at 2.3 million (YouTube and Twitch), with 14.1 million hours watched collectively during the final
  • Over the course of the whole Fortnite World Cup, 81.8 million hours of content were streamed
  • 70% of Fortnite players have made in-game purchases, spending $85 each on average
  • Total Fortnite revenue for 2018 is estimated at 2.4 billion
  • Epic Games made profit of $3 billion over 2018
  • Epic Games valued at $15 billion in October 2018, up from $8 billion in July 2018

Fortnite User Statistics

In March 2019, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney announced that the total number of Fortnite players had reached 250 million. This is up 25% on November 2018’s 200 million Fornite users, and double the official figure of 125 million in June 2018; this  itself represented a nearly threefold increase since January 2018. At the time of writing this was the most-recent figure.

Epic Games reported that there were 78.3 million active Fortnite players in August 2018 – marking the highest monthly usage figure in the history of the game. The record number of concurrent Fortnite players stands at 8.3 million, which came in the wake of the game’s launch in South Korea.

Fortnite has reached these numbers without even being able to launch in China, where a clampdown on new games has prevented its entering the market.

Total Fortnite players worldwide, August 2017 – March 2019

Fortnite total players

Source: Statista

Fortnite demographics

Those with even a passing acquaintance with the world of gaming will perhaps not be surprised to see the demographic breakdown of Fortnite players, which skews heavily male and is concentrated in those aged 18-24. The Verto Analytics figures below do not take into account players under the age of 18, who are likely to account for no small proportion of players.

Fortnite players age and gender – Verto

Fortnite players age and gender - Verto

Source: Verto Analytics

A similar investigation carried out using SimilarWeb data on desktop Fortnite users found relatively similar results, albeit a little less skewed toward the youngest age bracket, and an even more unbalanced picture regarding gender.

Fortnite players age and gender – SimilarWeb

Fortnite players age and gender - SimilarWeb

Source: New World Notes

Anecdotally at least, some suggest that mobile versions of Fortnite have gone some way to redressing gender imbalance. On the other hand, it was reported that not one of the 100 players taking part in the Fortnite World Cup in New York in July 2019 was a woman.

A survey conducted by Newzoo took players under 18 into account, finding that 53% of Fortnite gamers were aged 10-25 – a slightly higher proportion than those who played rival title Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The same study found that Fortnite players were less likely to classify themselves as ‘core gamers’.

Fortnite vs. PUBG players preferences

Fortnite vs. PUBG players preferences

Source: Newzoo

A May 2019 Newzoo found that 41% of US gamers play one the biggest three battle royale games (Fornite, PUBG, and Apex Legends), with a further 15% representing churned battle royale gamers who intend to play such a title again. 71% of these are primarily console gamers, 17% PC games, and the remaining 12% mobile gamers.

These battle royale games tend to be loyal to one title, with 59% only playing one of the three.

Of these, Fortnite claimed by far the largest share at this point, with 42% of gamers playing it alone, and a further 37% playing it in combination with another title.

To put it another way, 53% of Fortnite players only played the game. This compares to 24% of Apex Legends and 18% of PUBG gamers.

US battle royale gamers: Loyalties

US battle royale gamers: loyalities

Source: Newzoo

Those who prefer one game over another display certain characteristics, some of which feed into their choice.

Fortnite gamers overwhelmingly prefer console gaming, while we see more of a mix for the other titles. They also enjoy the social interaction afforded by playing the game, while PUBG players enjoy team play, and Apex Legends players prefer the game’s pacing.

We also various brand affinities arising in each constituency.

US battle royale gamers: Reasons for choosing games

US battle royale gamers: Reasons for choosing games

Source: Newzoo

One change is coming in the demographics of the opponents against whom players will be lined up, according to an Epic Games blog post: they may not all be human. Epic announced in September 2019 that it would be adding bots to mix the following season.

This is part of a wider drive to match players with others of a similar skill level, to ensure that newbies don’t get completely decimated by older hands. The bots will be targeted at those at lower levels of skills.

Fortnite markets

Back in early 2018, a Newzoo analysis that weighed up Fortnite against PUBG among core PC gamers found a few regional trends.

PUBG, it seems, dominates in east Asian markets. Particularly (and unsurprisingly) in China, where Fortnite has yet to secure a release. Fortnite seems to hold the edge in Europe, with Nordic countries prominent – though, interestingly, Iceland features in the top-five countries for PUBG penetration among this demographic.

Average Fortnite penetration stood at 16.3% at this point, compared to 14.6% for PUBG.

Top markets for Fortnite penetration: core PC gamers

Top markets for Fortnite penetration: core PC gamers

Source: Statista

The Fortnite community

Casual gaming aside, Fortnite is a serious business. New items can cause controversy if they don’t gain the approval of the community and those who play in an un-sportsperson-like manner can be the subject of online opprobrium – even if they break in-game records in the process.

The latest game play addition that scandalised the fanbase was the addition of powerful mech-like battle suits in August 2019, which were deemed to be disproportionately powerful. Previously, Epic withdrew a weapon known as the ‘Infinity Blade’ in response to fan backlash – even issuing a public apology in the process.

On Twitter, 9.6 million follow the official page (as of November 2019). Down-with-the-kids Instagram is way out in front, however, with an incredible 22.5 million followers.

The official Fortnite page on Facebook has 4.6 million likes, with a spate of non-official pages with likes numbering five or even six figures.

Epic Games also hosts an official forum, on which hundreds of thousands of Fortnite-related posts can be found.

This is, of course, only scratching the surface – there are countless non-official groups, pages, blogs, channels, and more out there, all related to Fortnite. Fortnite is a genuine worldwide phenomenon.

Celebrity Fortnite players

Footballer Antoine Griezmann performed a Fortnite dance move to celebrate scoring in the World Cup 2018 final – estimated viewing figures: 900 million. Evidence of Fortnite fandom on one of the world’s biggest stages is no freak accident – the game boasts no small number of celebrity fans (including Griezmann’s France teammate Adil Rami, who claimed to be playing Fortnite naked during the World Cup, when some boisterous teammates burst in, threatening to upturn his furniture. Rami defended himself with a fire extinguisher…leading to an evacuation of the hotel).

Canadian singer Drake is perhaps the best-known name among them. He’s joined by fellow artists Travis Scott and Chance the Rapper. Sports stars are also well represented. Aside from the two aforementioned football (soccer) world champions, sporting Fortnite fans include LA Lakers’ Josh Hart, (basketball), Pittsburgh Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster (American football), and various members of the Milwaukee Brewers team (baseball), who have played games on their home stadium’s jumbotron

Fortnite is something of a contentious name in the world of sports, however – read more about that in the Fortnite addiction section below…

Perhaps a more surprising inclusion on the list is disgraced comic and sitcom star Roseanne Barr, though it certainly stands as further evidence of the wide range of the game’s appeal.

Pro Fortnite players

Fortnite has also created its own celebrities, the most prominent of whom is Ninja.

Ninja’s appeal is such that he has played with Drake (shattering the then non-tournament viewership records, with over 635,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch) and England international footballer (soccer player) Dele Alli. He was the first e-gamer to feature on the cover of ESPN magazine, and claims to earn a tidy $500,000 per month from Twitch subscribers. Ninja’s total 2018 earnings stood at $10 million.

Ninja is not the only well-known player, however, with the question of the world’s best players being considered a suitable topic for journalistic consideration. Indeed, Tyler Blevins, to give him his real name, is famous for his streaming rather than his e-sport competitiveness. He does, however, hold the world record for consecutive duo wins alongside Malachi Greiner (Reverse2k to his fans).

Fortnite has quickly come to be one of the most lucrative platforms in the world of e-sports. It ranks third overall in terms of prize money handed out, a total of $84.4 million (as found verifiable by EsportsEarnings – Epic Games’ total prize pools would presumably take this total higher) as of November 2019. This compares to $85.6 million for Counter Strike: Global Offensive but cannot hope to compare to Dota 2‘s $218.1 million.

Epic Games stated they would be offering no less than $100 million in prize money over 2018/19 season. $18 million of this was distributed over the Summer Skirmish and Fall Skirmish seasons, and $30 million in the Fortnite World Cup. Despite its newness in the e-sports world, professional Fortnite players are already some of the highest earning sports stars in the e-sports world.

The highest earner from Fortnite tournament play is American player Bugha, who tops the list courtesy of his huge win at the Fornite World Cup in July 2019, which bagged him a tidy $3 million.

Indeed, the huge amount of prize money at said tournament mean that we see a host of other high performers from the Fortnite World Cup featuring in the top-10. These include second and third-placed Psalm and Epikwhale, and duo winners Aqua and Nyhrox.

Highest earning professional Fortnite players

Highest earning professional Fortnite players

Data source: Esports Earnings

Many top players belong to various teams, some of the best known being FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, and Ghost Gaming – all of whom have claimed over $1,000,000 in earnings. Many of these teams are occupied on several different gaming fronts. They’re serious operations, with trademarked names, team jerseys complete with sponsors’ logos (with replicas for sale), and fully-fledged press teams.

They even have their ‘doping’ scandals. Take the lifetime ban handed out to FaZe Jarvis when it transpired he was using an aimbot to cheat in November 2019. This caused waves in community, given two other players –  Xxif and Ronaldo – were caught cheating in the run up to the Fortnite World Cup, but incurred little more than two-week bans. They would go on to compete in the tournament.

The youngest professional player, Kyle Jackson of the UK (aka Mongraal), was a mere 13 years old when signed up to Team Secret in April 2018.

Things seem to be going well for the young teenager, as of 2019 – with prizes of nearly $100,000 rolling in.

Fortnite Usage Statistics

Time spent playing Fortnite

A survey of 1,000 Fortnite players found that the median time spent playing the game weekly stood at 6-10 hours. Close to a third spent a maximum of 5 hours playing, while 8% spent put in a rather-alarming 21 hours or more of Fortnite playing time per week. From May to June 2018, the total hours spent playing Fortnite total 2.7 billion hours – or 300,000 years (plus a few thousand more).

Time spent playing Fortnite

Time spent playing Fortnite

Source: LendEDU

Wasted on Fortnite is dedicated to how much time people spend – or waste – playing Fortnite. The ‘leader’, as of November 2019 was PS4 player wsiim, who has somehow contrived to have spent 448 days (!) playing the game. Around 2.4 million players have used the site, logging an average of 432 hours, or around 18 days…

Clearly the game is addictive (sometimes problematically). The LendEDU survey also asked players if they’d ever missed time at school or work to play Fortnite. Teachers will be disappointed to learn that 15% admitted they skipped a lot of school to play Fortnite, while 21% had skipped a little. Employers might also be displeased to know that 6% of workers had skipped a lot of work to play Fortnite, while 16% had skipped a little.

Time is not the only way in which we can measure the huge scale of Fortnite usage. The launch of the game’s highly-anticipated fifth season saw traffic reach 37 Tbps (terabytes per second). To get a sense of what that means, the 2016 US presidential election peaked at 7.5 Tbps.

UK ISP BT reported a 40% spike in internet traffic over normal levels with the release of Fortnite Season 10. Back in May 2018, Verizon reported a 60% spike over normal peak data usage levels in the US, coinciding with launch of Season 4.

All of this pails in comparison with the biggest release of them all: Chapter 2. The new map, with its concomitant new gameplay features saw records comprehensively broken for Akamai, one of the content delivery networks commissioned by Epic Games to roll out the update.

With this October 2019 release, traffic on the Akamai network peaked at a monumental 106 Tbps – the first time it had crossed the 100 Tbps mark. Around half of this was thought to be attributable to the Fortnite roll out, with the normal daily peak at around 50 Tbps.

This was reportedly the third time a Fortnite update coincided with record traffic for Akamai. July 2018’s 60 Tbps (the aforementioned Season 5) and December 2018’s 75 Tbps were the previous examples…

Fortnite devices

Part of Fortnite’s rise to dominance has no doubt been its cross-platform availability, with casual mobile gamers on the move able to participate with hardcore bedroom gamers on equal footing (Sony was hesitant, but cross-play functionality has recently been enabled for PS4 players).

The game started out strongly after being launched on the PC, Xbox One, and PS4 in September 2017, with one million players within 24 hours, and 10 million within two weeks.

It was when it launched on mobile, however, that it really took off. Apptopia estimated that Fornite surpassed 100 million downloads within five months of launching on iOS in April 2018 – the first mobile platform on which it was made available.

Days to achieve 100 iOS downloads

Time spent playing Fortnite

Source: Apptopia

Fortnite’s Android release circumvented the Google Play Store, with the beta version only available on an invite-basis. This did not stop it being downloaded 15-million times, with 23 million players within 21 days of its release in mid-August. It was released fully in October 2018, though it is still not available through the Google Play Store, with Epic CEO Tim Sweeney claiming the company wants to build a direct relationship with its customers. It’s also a way to avoid Google taking a 30% cut of revenue.

Fortnite has also proved popular with Nintendo Switch owners. In late 2018, it was reported that 50% of Switch owners had downloaded the game since its launch in June 2018. Accordingly, it sat at the top of the Switch download charts for some time.

Fortnite’s popularity on mobile reflects a wider trend toward mobile over traditional console gaming. A survey carried out by Morning Consult found that 45% of gamers were playing more on mobile than they were three years ago, compared with 28% of those who were playing more on a gaming console.

The survey also breaks down gamers by which platform they prefer. While 60% of those who preferred mobile gaming were now playing more on their preferred platform, nearly half of those who preferred console gaming were playing more on a mobile than they were three years previously.

All this being said, a May 2019 survey of US gamers found that 78% of Fortnite users were console gamers first and foremost.

Gamers playing more on console or mobile

Gamers playing more on console or mobile

Source: Morning Consult

Fornite players from all platforms previously were all grouped together – but as of March 2019, PC, Xbox and Playstation gamers were separated out from mobile and Switch players in the interests of balance, with cross-platform play is still possible though partying-up.

The introduction of bots and skills-matching will see cross-platform Fornite play re-introduced, with player level the filter rather than the platform used. Player concerns were raised regarding this, with console and PC gamers considered to have a considerable advantage over those using less sophisticated devices.

Fortnite spending

While in-game purchases are mostly-limited to non-essential cosmetic items, that hasn’t stopped people spending (though 20% were not aware that they were not getting an advantage). Indeed, a survey carried out by LendEDU found that close to 70% of Fortnite players invested in V-Bucks, spending a not-insignificant average of $85.

For just over a third of these, this was the first game on which they had ever made in-app purchases.

Fortnite spending breakdown

Fortnite spending breakdown

Source: LendEDU

According to 2019 analysis, the vast majority of spending on Fortnite goes on V-Bucks to be spent as players please, with packs accounting for 13% and bundles for 3%. Various combinations of rare costumes, accessories, and V-Bucks are available, though in this context it’s hard to discern the difference between packs and bundles.

Those bundles can go for big money – for what outsiders might well deem to be pointless…

Fortnite spending breakdown: bundles, packs, and V-Bucks

Fortnite spending breakdown bundles

Source: Edison Trends

Around half of those who made purchases in June 2019 also made them in July 2019. In the free-to-play market, it is generally accepted that the vast majority of revenue will be generated by a small cohort of enthusiastic spenders.

These spenders are known as ‘whales’. It is thought, however, that their importance is beginning to decline as this form of spending becomes more mainstream.

Fortnite on Twitch and YouTube

Interestingly, the survey also found that a quarter invested in Twitch, an e-sports platform which allows people to watch others playing games.

In October 2019, Fortnite was the second-most viewed game on Twitch, being viewed for 67.7 million hours overall. 96% of these views were for amateur players (though this will include high profile streamers like Ninja), with e-sports accounting for a relatively slim 2.5 million hours. Nonetheless, it is sixth most-viewed game in the e-sport category.

It is well ahead of third place Counter Strike: Global Offensive, though first-place League of Legends is, well, leagues in front, with 116 million hours. The latter’s popularity derives largely from its choice as the leading e-sports category. Indeed, if we removed e-sports hours from both games, Fortnite would just about edge out LoL.

Twitch is not the only channel through which Fortnite spectators can get their fix. Indeed, in October 2019, Fortnite was the most-viewed game on the platform, logging 42.4 million hours to League of Legends‘ 39.6 million hours. Of these 42.4 million hours, 0% was given over to esports views, compared to 68% of LoL‘s total. YouTube users, then, are looking to League of Legends largely to see professional play, but to Fortnite to simply watch their favourite streamers in action – or even just a bit of amateur play.

Celebrity player Ninja’s Fortnite-centred YouTube channel boasts 22.4 million subscribers at the time of writing (alongside the 14.7 million Twitch subscribers he had before defecting to Mixer, where he had 2 million subs as of September 2019). One tournament organised by Spanish YouTuber elrubiusOMG was viewed by 42 million people, with 1.1 million tuning concurrently at one point.

It’s not just about the celebs, though. Research conducted by Newzoo found that players of battle royale-type games (looking at Fortnite and rival title PUBG) were more likely to livestream or record and upload themselves playing games as compared to other online multiplayer games.

Fortnite battle royale streaming

Source: Newzoo

The peak for Fortnite viewship came in July 2018, when 8.9 billion minutes (148 million hours) were collectively spent watching Fortnite players over Twitch. August marked a sharp decline on this at 7.7 billion minutes (128 billion hours), though this is around the same as was recorded in June.

May 2018 saw the second-highest recorded total viewing time for Fortnite, at 8.4 billion minutes (140 million hours), according to the same Fortnite stats, from MarketWatch.

Switching the measure to the number of viewers and broadcasters, October 2019 saw 105,100 average concurrent viewers on Twitch. These viewer could watch content being broadcasted over 5,296 channels.

We might note that as well as the loss of novelty that comes as games age, that September tends to mark a season of new games releases – which can eat into the viewership share of incumbents.

Indeed, in May 2019, concurrent viewers of Fortnite of Twitch numbered 144,007 on average, with 9,138 channels from which to choose.

January 2019 saw the highest recorded figure in terms of average Fortnite Twitch broadcasters, at 13,715. That month also saw average viewership of 170,136 – which is not too far that 2018 peak.

In July 2018, average Fortnite viewers numbered 205,259, with an average of 10,898 Twitch channels showing Fornite content (making it a better time to broadcast, with a much higher average viewer count).

Average concurrent Fornite viewers and channels on Twitch

Average concurrent Fornite viewers and channels on Twitch

Data source: TwitchTracker

The record number of concurrent Twitch Fortnite viewers stands at 1.7 million. And what had they tuned in to watch? Why the captivating sight of a black hole, which marked the end of the Season 1o and with it Chapter 1.

As far as marketing stunts that prevent anyone from playing your game for two days, you can call that a resounding success.

Across platforms, total concurrent views of Twitch streaming peaked at a stately 7 million. YouTube contributed the bulk of these, with 4.3 million.

Even the Fortnite World Cup solo final (more below) couldn’t pull in those figures, though a concurrent 2.3 million isn’t too shabby. And that’s just Twitch and YouTube. Other fans tuned in via social media, or streamed the tournament in-game.

Newzoo peg peak total viewership at 14.1 million hours during the finals, on the official YouTube and Twitch Fortnite channels. Viewership remained at healthy level in the weeks leading up to the final, with the high reported in the fourth week, at 6.64 million. Levels fluctuated but never fell below 4 million.

Fortnite World Cup viewership hours, Twitch and YouTube

Fortnite World Cup viewership, Twitch and YouTube

Source: Newzoo

Of the two, the official Fortnite YouTube channel was the most-watched during the tournament proper, logging 5.6 million hours of live content during the finals, compared to 4.5 million on Twitch.

In the qualifying rounds, however, Twitch accounted for two thirds of viewership, with the number of hours watched per week averaging 700,000 across both platforms.

The action didn’t just take place on the official channels. Over the first two qualifying rounds, for example, Ninja’s live channel was watched for 3 million hours – compared to 1.8 million for the official Fortnite channels. Tfue snagged the qualifying record, however, logging 2.3 million hours in one qualifying event.

Newzoo also report that smaller streamers contributed, with their content watched for 9.5 million hours during qualifying rounds, and 2.6 million during the finals. In all, 81.8 million hours were streamed, with the main channels and bigger streamers accounting for 85% of this viewership.

As we might expect, we saw a significant bump for solo-tournament winner Bugha, and duo winners Aqua and Nhyrox. Bugha logged a mere 8,000 hours between 3 and 9 July. By 29 July-4 August, this had increased 27.5-fold to 220,000.

Live viewership hours for Fortnite World Cup winners

Live viewership hours for Fortnite World Cup winners

Source: Newzoo

Outside of tournaments and publicity stunts, the highest viewership figures on Twitch recorded for Fortnite were generated by the celebrity pro-am tournament that took place at the E3 games festival in June 2018. At its peak, 700,000 people watched simultaneously. If you add additional streams such as that of the ever-present Ninja, the figure stands at 1.5 million viewers, who watched a total of 1.9 million hours during the four hours of the event.

If we include other channels, total viewership hours increases to 6.1 million, and the average concurrent viewership stands at 1.3 million, with a peak of 2.2 million.

Fortnite tournaments

While there’s plenty of casual viewership of Fortnite going on, its status as an e-sport hinges on big-money tournaments. As mentioned above, Epic Games announced it had a Fortnite prize money pool of $100 million to award during the 2018/19 season, over a range of tournaments.

A good chunk of the latter prize pool was reserved for the Fortnite World Cup, which saw no less than $30 million up for grabs. Every qualifying player (100 solo players, and 50 doubles teams) stood to take home at least $50,000, with the winners of the solo and duo categories taking home $3 million apiece (split between the two duo winner).

On top of this, $1 million was on the line every week from mid-April until mid June, during the qualifying rounds. Around 40 million players took part in the qualifiers.

The final tournament took place July 26-28 2019, in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City – most famously the largest venue used for US Open tennis. Tickets retailed for anything from $50 to $150.

The solo event was won by Kyle Giersdorf, aka Bugha, from Pennsylvania, a tender 16 years of age at the time of his triumph. As an indication of how far e-sports have come, his victory earned him an invite onto Jimmy Fallon’s talkshow.

Giersdorf’s $3 million prize is the largest individual prize in e-sports history. Indeed, it takes him to 12th in the table of the highest lifetime earnings in e-sports.

The list is topped by Dota 2 player Johan Sundstein, aka N0tail, of Denmark, who can lay claim to lifetime earnings of $6.9 million.

Giersdorf is the highest-earning Fortnite player on the list, with multiplayer online battle arena Dota 2 dominating the highest earners list (accounting for 44 of the top-50).

The next highest non-Dota 2 earner is another Fortnite player,  Psalm – or Harrison Chang from the US – in at 31, followed by Austrian-player David Wang, aka Aqua, at 35.

Psalm’s high positioning is bolstered by the $1.8 million he earned by finishing second in the Fortnite World Cup main event. Third place Epikwhale (Shane Cotton) won $1.2 million. The New York Times reports that Cotton would practice playing the game for 10 hours per day in the run-up to the tournament.

The duo title, with the $3 million prize money, was taken by Norwegien Emil Bergquist Pedersen (Nhyrox) and the aforementioned Aqua. CNN notes that they were not hotly-tipped to take home the prize, compared to some of the bigger teams present. In the world of pro-Fortnite, surprises are certainly possible.

Epic also ran a Fortnite Champion Series over Season X, in which teams of three competed in a three-day tournament after qualifying in regional heats over five weeks. Players become eligible by qualifying for the Champion League in the game’s Arena mode. This was also interspersed with one-day solo tournaments – all with cash prizes. Total prize money for the tournament was $10 million.

The biggest prize of $600,000 went to a European team, consisting of E11 Tschiiinken, E11 Stompy, and COOLER aqua.

Chapter 2 Season 1 changed the format again, with team size changing to squads of four. The prize pool for this tournament stands at $5 million. This kicked off in November 2019, with the finals in early December. Rumours (at the time of writing) are circulating that the next competitive tournament will centre on duo play.

The first $8 million of the 2018 pool was awarded over the eight-week Summer Skirmish tournament (2018), culminating in a grand final, taking place in Seattle over four days (participants included pros, personalities, and top performers invited by Epic).

The Fall Skirmish followed, with a total of $10 million up for grabs to the 500 participants over six weeks. The Winter Skirmish offered a smaller prize pool of $1 million, but will was all players, not just those invited by Epic.

According to ESC, fans watched 16.8 million hours of the Fortnite Fall Skirmish over Twitch, YouTube and vk. Average concurrent viewership was just a touch under 250,000, while total views numbered over 100 million.

Fortnite addiction

Research has shown that Fortnite can be highly addictive. Indeed, it has even been claimed that Fortnite is as addictive as heroin, with one often-repeated story telling of a boy who continued playing the game in the shadow of an approaching tornado.

Concerns are particularly pronounced where young minds are involved. Another story tells of a young girl who wet herself rather than stop playing. Many parents have gone so far as to send their children to rehab to help get over their Fortnite addiction.

It doesn’t stop with children. The game has reportedly been brought up in 200 UK divorce cases. One UK man who managed to curtail his gaming before it got to that stage reported spending up to 18-hours per day playing Fortnite, and cited beginning to feel like he was suffering from a multiple personality disorder as a result.

Lawsuits have inevitably followed. In Canada, in October 2019, two plaintiffs with children aged 15 and 10 brought a lawsuit against Epic. Lawyers for the accusers argued the game had been intentionally engineered, with, statisticians and psychologists, to be addictive.

The Fortnite lawsuits run two ways. Epic Games has got involved too, bringing several lawsuits against people found to be cheating in the game by making and using software to give them an illegal advantage. At least one of the defendants is a minor.

Boston Red Sox (baseball) pitcher David Price also had to pull out of a game with rivals the New York Yankees due to carpal tunnel syndrome that was reportedly caused by his Fortnite playing. He denied the injury came from his gaming (the extent to which his gaming was responsible is a matter for debate in the medical community), but the incident certainly caused some hand wringing in the world of professional sports. Accordingly, outfits such as the NHL’s Canucks have banned the game.

Fortnite Revenue Statistics

According to analytics firm SuperData, Fortnite 2018 revenue came to $2.4 billion – the highest annual revenue figure in gaming history by its reckoning. This was considered to be a major factor in an 11% increase in total gaming revenue over 2017 (a total of $109.8 billion). For context, second-place (in the free-to-play category at least) Dungeon Fighter Online brought in $1.5 billion.

Fortnite remains well out ahead of other popular titles, such as PUBG or Call of Duty: Black Ops. Fornite revenue for the first half of 2019 at least is, however, well down on 2018.

Indeed, it seems that it has been on a downward slope since midway through 2018 – barring a in Fortnite revenue in December 2018 (for obvious reasons). In terms of iOS revenue, the $455 million revenue reported in this month saw an 83% increase over November 2018 and stood at 16% more than the previous peak of July 2018. Daily Fortnite iOS revenue in November 2018 was $1.23 million.

Interestingly, other titles seem to spike a little earlier or later, meaning that the lion’s share of that Christmas revenue went to Fortnite.

After that, we saw a considerable crash back down to earth. Hollywood Reporter reports that Fortnite revenue in January 2019 was down 48% on December’s record levels (though still comfortably up year-on-year over the early days of January 2018).

The graph below shows relative levels, compared to that peak month. For a bit of context, May 2019 Fornite revenue is reckoned at $203 million.

Fornite revenue (relative) vs other online games, Aug 2017 – July 2019

Fornite revenue (relative) vs other online games, Aug 2017 - July 2019

Source: Edison Trends

This decline seemingly continued after this point, with SuperTrends reporting that Fortnite revenue for September 2019 was lower than at any point since November 2017. Revenue for the month was down 43% on August alone.

By this reckoning, Fortnite was ninth terms of PC revenue, seventh in the console revenue chart, and did not make the top-10 in terms of mobile game revenue in September 2019. The month saw a contraction in both PC and console gaming spend (17% and 36% year-on-year respectively). 6% year-on-year growth in mobile gaming spend was not enough to arrest an overall decline, though it did limit it to 1%.

These Fortnite revenue stats come from just before the launch of Chapter 2. It remains to be seen whether this will reinvigorate spending.

As above, though, the decline is long-term. The May 2019 figure of $203 million was down 38% year-on-year – though this was enough for it to top the console spending chart, and hold on to fifth place in the PC category. At this stage it had already fallen out of the top-10 in terms of mobile spending.

If we cast our eye back to May 2018, we see Fortnite: Battle Royale revenue of $318 million (the highest-reported monthly figure by this juncture). This made it the best-performing game of its kind by this metric.

Best monthly revenue for free-to-play games

Best monthly revenue for free-to-play games

Source: Recode

Fortnite has been a very healthy source of revenue for Epic from the off.

After launching on iOS, Fortnite was quickly generating $1 million in revenue every day. Indeed, after launching on April 1st, it was generating more revenue than Tinder, and nearly as much as Netflix by halfway through the same month.

Fortnite iOS revenue, first two weeks

Fortnite iOS revenue, first two weeks

Source: SensorTower

It would go on to hit $100 million within 90 days (notably 335% more than Knives Out in second place), then $200 million two months later. Close to two-thirds of this revenue was being generated by players in the US ($126 million) – 12 times as much as the second-biggest market of the UK. By the end of October 2018, Fortnite surpassed $350 million on iOS alone.

The Android version of the game came October 2018 – with all revenue going directly to Epic Games, through its circumvention of the Play Store.

As well as driving growth in mobile gaming, it is also noted that Fortnite is going someway to bolstering console gaming revenue, with some estimates suggesting that console gaming revenue might have declined by 6% if not for Fortnite. Microtransactions as whole increased by 49% thanks to the influence of Fortnite.

Epic Games revenue 

Over the course of 2018, Epic reported profits of $3 billion.

Epic Games investments

Epic announced that it had raised $1.25 billion in funding in late October, with the seven investment firms joining the likes of Disney and Tencent as minority shareholders (though Tencent’s stake is 40%, purchased with $330 million in 2013). Fortnite’s runaway success is no doubt behind the developer’s appeal to investors.

The October 2018 funding round took total investment in Epic Games to $1.6 billion.

Epic Games valuation

Following the October 2018 round of funding, Epic Games was valued at $15 billion – jumping up from $8 billion as of July 2018.

Gaming industry revenue stats

The free-to-play market contributed $81.5 billion to total gaming industry revenue over in 2018 (close to three quarters), predicted to increase to $82.1 billion over 2019. Mobile titles dominate revenue generation.

Free-to-play gaming revenue, 2017 – 2019

Free-to-play gaming revenue, 2017 - 2019

Source: SuperData via gamesindustry.biz

A 39% increase in Xbox revenue is thought to have been driven by Fortnite 

Final thoughts

It’s quite conceivable that if you were a mature adult with no children in your care, that one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the last couple of years could have completely passed you by. But one of the very biggest worldwide cultural phenomena of this century Fortnite certainly is.

Led by trendsetters and celebrities, the mobile phones, computers, and television screens of millions of children and young adults around the world are lighting up with the fast paced, cartoonish shooting action of Fortnite. Indeed, even if you haven’t heard of it, Fortnite’s cultural impact is such that even members of the famously out-of-touch British royal family have (and are wringing their hands over its malign influence – a sure sign of cultural significance).

It’s difficult to identify what it is exactly that has led to the game’s huge success. Fortnite was many years in development, but the battle royale format much loved the world over was developed quickly almost as afterthought. Certainly, the lucky or secret combination of factors that have led to the game’s success is something other game or app developers (or any cultural makers for that matter) will be studying closely for years to come.

While it has brought nothing new exactly to the world, certainly it has helped to entrench gaming as a spectator sport, the ability of microtransactions to drive revenue (even if they’re essentially meaningless), and the battle royale format of game – or whatever else might give the same sort of instant, mass human connection.

Going even more down the path of essential non-innovation, a physical release bundle released to coincide with the 2018 holiday season marked Epic’s faith in its flagship product to perform on different fronts. And while regulatory constraints have stalled the Chinese release of the game by Tencent, when it does take place, there is no telling just how much bigger the juggernaut that is Fortnite could yet be.