Fortnite Frenzy: Video game looks to China to prolong its fame

Global Business

Fortnite Frenzy: Video game looks to China to prolong its fame

The Fortnite phenomenon is sweeping the world – and it’s only going to get bigger. The online game is said to be making hundreds of millions of dollars a month – some figures putting that at near $220m – and topping tens of millions of users.

CGTN’s Phil Lavelle reports. 

The premise is simple: 100 players dropped onto a virtual island and the winner is the last one standing.

The beauty of it is simple: Fortnite is completely free. It’s what’s known as a ‘freemium’ model where you download it at no charge and then pay for extras within the game.

With most freemium games, the experience is somewhat hampered if you don’t spend the money on extra lives or weapons, but with Fortnite, it’s fairly easy to never pay a cent and still progress.

The other big attraction is that it is cross platform. Whilst some games may be exclusive to one brand, Fortnite is available on Mac, Windows, X-Box, Playstation and iOS.

The only major platform left out is Android – the world’s most used mobile operating system – but an Android version is in the works, meaning hundreds of millions of extra devices will be able to join in very soon.

“My understanding is that the game is monetizing at roughly a 2 billion dollar a year run-rate. For some perspective, that puts it up there with these major Star Wars movie, box office global worldwide will be 1.5 to 2 billion dollars, so these are big numbers that Fortnite is putting up right now,” says Jefferies’ Video Games Analyst, Tim O’Shea says, adding: “They had 40 million users, and that was in January. It’s going to be much higher today.”

Mike Lentz is a player and gaming journalist. He explains the attraction,“What’s really interesting about this game is it really suits all demographics. It’s fun for everyone, it’s crazy. The point of Fortnite is to be the last man standing so basically, 100 people will be dropped into a map. You can either play by yourself or with one other friend or up to three others so groups of four and basically, you just want to kill everybody else.”

Fortnite was developed by Epic Games – and that’s 40 percent owned by Chinese web giant, Tencent. Tencent is also the exclusive publisher for the Chinese market, meaning it’s doing well out of this game, explains Ray Carsillo – a video games industry expert:

“The Chinese market is going to be huge for Fortnite. It’s going to be what keeps this game going for years to come. You see it with League of Legends, H1Z1, PUBG.. getting into the Chinese market is what can keep these games thriving years after they’re popular here in the States.”

Another winner here are the players. The phenomenon of streaming gameplay, brought about by Twitch, has seen players make a fortune out of those who will pay to watch other players’ progress.

One Fortnite top-ranker, Ninja, is said to be making somewhere in the region of a million dollars a month.

But as with all crazes, it’s unlikely to last forever. Just ask Angry Birds or Pokemon Go: once the darlings of the gaming craze but no longer with the same appeal.

They concentrated mainly on the mobile market, so had a slightly limited audience. But in the fickle world of gaming longevity, there’s always something else around the corner.

Jeffrey Grubb talks Fortnite craze & how it’s changing the gaming market

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Jeffrey Grubb, senior PC gaming editor AT GamesBeat, about massive popularity of Fortnite and the shifting gaming industry.