Of that $680 million figure, $215 million of it went toward third-party PC games, likely due to Fortnite’s exclusivity on PC within the Epic store. In fact, Fortnite, a 2017 title that’s still free to play, was the most financially successful game of 2019 thanks to sales on in-game content, reportedly making $1.8 billion. The game is available on several platforms, which means Fortnite revenue was being generated through smartphones, tablets and game consoles as well.
Epic Games’s announcement also boasted that its storefront has seen 108 million customers since its December 2018 opening.
Epic’s announcement appears aimed at enticing developers to join the party, despite the early controversies. Epic is boasting “developer-friendly store items" with 88 percent revenue sharing, and support for developer and publisher payment systems. Epic’s war chest, amassed in part thanks to Fortnite’s global success, allows the publisher to set competitive revenue sharing rates and buy exclusive rights to sell certain titles. Company founder Tim Sweeney said Epic will continue to focus on nabbing more exclusives.
Epic also announced geographical data of its active playerbase. U.S. customers make up 17.2 percent of Epic’s players, the largest community; the next four largest countries are Russia, China, Brazil and Germany, in that order.
Since digital retail is a new business for Epic Games, it’s tough to see what the company will look like in the future and whether it will emphasize its retail efforts. Valve, which ranks among the most revered and celebrated developers, eventually shifted its focus to maintaining the competing and dominant Steam marketplace. Its upcoming VR title, a long-awaited followup in the Half-Life series, is its first big name game in more than half a decade.
Meanwhile, Epic Games has been busy providing the technology needed to create blockbuster TV shows like Disney’s “The Mandalorian,” while also continuing to help other developers with technical tools. However, Epic hasn’t really shown any signs of slowing down in game development. Dauntless, a free-to-play game by Phoenix Labs, uses Fortnite’s tech, and became the first third-party game with Epic-powered support across multiple platforms.
Fortnite continues to be a cornerstone in the Epic Games business model. First, it lured players into its storefront. Now there’s talk that Fortnite will eventually become a “metaverse,” where users can interact with the game’s computer-generated environment and other users.
Epic founder Sweeney is hesitant to call Fortnite a “platform,” despite the fact it’s being described as a threat to places like Netflix and Facebook. Instead, he said on Twitter, rather ominously, “Fortnite is a game. But please ask that question again in 12 months.”