Epic Games will be providing $100 million to tournament prize pools for “Fortnite’s” first year of competitive play, which it calls the 2018-2019 season, the comapny announced in a blog post on Monday.
“Since the launch of ‘Fortnite Battle Royale,’ we’ve watched the passion for community competition grow and can’t wait to empower you to battle with the best,” the developer wrote.
“In the 2018-2019 season, Epic Games will provide $100,000,000 to fund prize pools for ‘Fortnite’ competitions. 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.”
Epic said it will provide more details about competitive structures and eligible platforms in the coming weeks.
Even in the world of ever-growing, high-dollar esports tournaments, $100 million is a massive amount of money for one game. Valve’s popular MOBA “Dota 2” awarded an estimated $38 million to competitors across 159 tournaments last year, according to Esports Earnings, a community-driven website that uses public information to record competitive prize money. Other big esports titles like “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “League of Legends” awarded $19 million and $12 million, respectively. Overall, Esports Earnings reports that more than $113 million total was awarded to competitors in 2017. The single largest esports prize pool in 2017 was “Dota 2’s” The International which handed out nearly $25 million.
“Fortnite Battle Royale” is currently the gaming industry’s biggest phenomenon. It overtook “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” in terms of overall monthly players and revenue earlier this year and is now the biggest free-to-play console game ever, according to market research company SuperData. Players spent an estimated $223 million on the game across all platforms in March alone, up 73% from February.
Tencent, which owns 40% of Epic Games, recently invested ¥100 million to bring “Fortnite” to China. Half the money will go toward creating in-game content, while the other half will be used to market the game as an esport in the country. Tencent told Caixin Global it has a five-year plan to grow the esports industry in China, one that includes setting up leagues and tournaments, nurturing players, and constructing esports-themed industrial parks.