How serious is Fortnite as a video gaming phenomenon? Today’s announcement of the shooter game’s first esports prize pool is a pretty stark indicator, as publisher Epic Games has promised to invest no less than $100 million into the game’s first year of competitive gaming.
You read that correctly: $100,000,000.
To understand how huge a number that is, a few comparison points are in order. The online five-on-five video game Dota 2 has enjoyed a robust esports life across the entire world since Valve took over the series’ development, but that game needed five years of competitive life to crack the $100 million mark. According to the Dota 2 Prize Tracker site, that games’ worldwide esports cume since 2013 currently totals $105 million, which doesn’t include the $10 million-and-counting prize for the upcoming International 2018 tournament being held later this summer.
Meanwhile, in the outdoor-sports world, the PGA Tour is an easy comparison point, since it largely revolves around real-world money as a ranking measure. Last year’s PGA Tour ended with a $321 million prize pool across all its players over a 12-month span.
Still, that’s a league with decades of established tournaments and infrastructure compared to a free-to-play video game that hasn’t even received an official “1.0” launch to retail. The giant tournament-prize number is the loudest “official” measure of the game’s success thus far, since Epic doesn’t publish the game’s player counts or sales data. Mobile marketplace analysts believe the game’s microtransaction model has driven more than $50 million on iOS alone since that version’s March 15 launch. That number doesn’t even begin to account for the PC and console versions, whose battle royale modes launched in September of last year.
Epic says we’ll have to wait for more official announcements about exactly where all this money will be given out and whether prize winners will have to physically beat it out of loot piñatas.
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