Epic Games announced its launch of the first Fortnite esports season with a record-breaking US$100 million prize pool.
The massive Fortnite esports prize pool will turn the attention of many sportsbooks to a competitive game that already has a large following in the esports community.
Epic Prize Pool for Fortnite
According to Epic Games, the prize pool will be for multiple competitions in the first year of Fortnite’s pro-season which will run between 2018 and 2019. The developers of the game have yet to reveal any specifics on the format of the competitions for the first season.
A blog post from Epic Games website said:
“We’re getting behind competitive play in a big way, but our approach will be different – we plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game. Stay tuned for more details about competitive structures and eligible platforms in the weeks ahead.”
It is important to note that Epic Games sets itself as a trendsetter on the esports scene with the US$100 million prize pool. This is close to the total amount of more than US$140 million that Valve paid for its Dota 2 tournaments since 2013. Other esports games like League of Legends, StarCraft II, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive barely reached US$50 million in total prize pool given out to multiple competitions.
The source of Epic Games’ prize pool is the large revenue the developers are earning through Fortnite sales. Sensor Tower, an analytical firm, estimates that Epic generates more than US$1 million per day on the mobile version of Fortnite alone. While any version of Fortnite battle royale is free-to-play, the game sells cosmetic in-game items like costumes, emotes, and other vanity objects.
Brief Look at the Popularity of Fortnite
Fortnite started out as a multiplayer survival game that pitted players against zombie hordes. Epic Games developed a battle royale mode for the game in September last year.
The battle royale mode pits 100 players against each other until there is only one survivor left in the game map. Players search for weapons, construction supplies, shields, and other items that will help them eliminate other players in each game. There is a time-limit element in the game where players need to move to a specific safe zone on the map. Any player outside of the zone when the time limit expires will constantly receive damage. Overtime, the playable safe zone shrinks to force surviving players to engage each other.
It is important to note that Fortnite battle royale launched under the shadow of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS or PUBG, a multiplayer battle royale game with a large fanbase. Fortnite shares the same gameplay with PUBG in which players scavenge for items and rush to a safe zone before they get eliminated.
But Epic Games battle royale title gained more attention over time. According to a February 2018 report from Newzoo, about 12.8 percent of viewers from Twitch watch Fortnite games while 8.8 percent watch PUBG streams. Fortnite’s popularity comes from several factors:
- Fortnite is free-to-play and is available on almost all gaming platforms. PUBG has a US$30 price tag and is not available for the PS4 console.
- The map in Fortnite is smaller than the ones in PUBG. The shorter map allows for fast-paced gameplay where players can quickly engage with one another.
- Fortnite allows players to build walls, ramps, and roofs. This introduces a unique and dynamic gameplay element that cannot be experienced in PUBG.
- Fortnite utilizes a casual gameplay style that is more accessible to any player. Meanwhile, PUBG provides a more realistic gameplay that is suitable to longtime first-person shooter (FPS) players.
With battle royal games being this year’s trend, the pro-season of the game is already set to be one of the most watched esports events in the industry. The prize pool from Epic Games can further increase viewership of the pro-season’s competition. Popular esportsbook brands such as UltraPlay may offer Fortnite betting markets later this year.