By now, you might have heard about Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins who makes more than $500,000 a month playing Fortnite, a co-op sandbox survival game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly.
As is the case with most Twitch streamers, Ninja’s mind-blowing income comes from several different sources, including donations, ad revenue, sponsorships, subscriptions, and various promotional deals. But how does Fortnite, the game that has turned Ninja into an internet celebrity and became hugely popular among Millennials and Generation Z alike, make money for its developer and publisher Epic Games?
Fortnite is a free-to-play game, which means that anyone can download and play it for free. Players are given the option to become founders by purchasing a premium edition of the game for money. There are currently four such editions, each containing different perks as rewards for those who purchase it:
- Standard Edition: the Standard Founder’s Pack costs €39.99, and it includes 4 exclusive in-game banner icons, 6 daily loot piñata packs, and an exclusive founder’s loot piñata pack.
- Deluxe Edition: the Deluxe Founder’s Pack costs €59.99, and it includes everything included in the Standard Founder’s Pack plus 8 playable heroes, a rare starter weapon pack, and an exclusive founders pistol, among other things.
- Super Deluxe Edition: the Super Deluxe Founder’s Pack costs €89.99, and it includes everything included in the Deluxe Founder’s Pack plus 2 exclusive in-game defenders and exclusive founder’s chat channel, among other things.
- Limited Edition: the Limited Founder’s Pack costs €149.99, and it includes everything included in the Super Deluxe Founder’s Pack plus 1 exclusive legendary weapon and 2 digital standard editions for friends, among other things.
But premium editions are not Epic’s only source of revenue—nor the most important one.
Epic Games makes most of their money via in-game purchases. In Fortnite, players can purchase various cosmetic upgrades, such as new outfits, and other perks with V-Bucks (short for Vindertech Bucks), the game’s virtual currency.
V-Bucks can be obtained by completing daily quests, by finishing Storm Shield Defense missions, or by progressing through the game. But since these activities require time and skill, many players instead decide to purchase V-Bucks for the game’s virtual shop. Currently, 1,000 V-Bucks costs $9.99, and most in-game outfits cost between 800 and 2000 V-Bucks.
The players of Fortnite Battle Royale, which is a battle royale spin-off from Fortnite where up to 100 players stand against one another on a single huge map and attempt to eliminate one another, can additionally purchase the Battle Pass, which is a method Battle Royale players can use to gain access to exclusive in-game rewards.
“At the beginning of every Battle Royale Season, every player will gain access to the Battle Pass,” explains the game’s developer. “While playing Fortnite Battle Royale, players will earn Battle Stars via leveling their Profile Rank and by completing Daily Challenges. These Battle Stars can then be used to unlock Tiers in the Battle Pass–each new tier includes both Free and Premium rewards.”
A single Battle Pass costs 950 V-Bucks, and it unlocks up to 100 rewards worth over 22,000 V-Bucks