Skip to main content

Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Fortnite earned $9bn in two years

And had 80m monthly users in June 2020.

Fortnite generated $9.1bn in revenue across 2018 and 2019, new documents from the ongoing Epic vs Apple lawsuit have shown.

This breaks down to $5.4bn in 2018 and a further $3.7bn in 2019, as reported in Epic's internal financial presentation dated January 2020 (thanks, The Verge).

In terms of how that all translates into profit, Epic has previously said it made $5.5bn overall profit across those two years, and a further whopping $5.1bn profit just in 2020. This is profit across the whole of the business, including other games and the Epic Games Store (though we know this currently makes a loss), though Fortnite brings in the vast majority of all proceeds.

Watch on YouTube

Meanwhile, in a June 2020 document, Epic described Fortnite as "the largest game in the world" with 80.4 million monthly active users and 350 million player accounts at that time.

We've heard that 350 million account figure before, though the active users figure has not previously been made public. It's not a metric Epic often discloses - though back in September 2018 it said Fortnite had 78.3m monthly players. 18 months later, the game has kept roughly the same number of players engaged.

A graph shows Epic had planned to grow monthly active users on iOS platforms in 2020 after a dip in both active users and player spending for 2019. This is, of course, all before Epic and Apple began their legal battling and Fortnite was pulled from the App Store.

Accompanying notes detail Epic's plans for a "return to revenue growth" on iOS by partnering with Apple to optimise the mobile version of Fortnite, "maximising" the game's then-upcoming Marvel season, launching the game's monthly subscription and promoting social events in hangout mode Party Royale.

Another graph shows monthly active users and "iOS bookings" - money made via the iPhone and iPad versions of the game - increasing sharply in April and May 2020 thanks to the hugely successful Travis Scott concert and launch of Party Royale. While not stated, the start of global lockdowns will also likely have contributed here too.

Marvel is by far the biggest-selling IP collaborator in Fortnite, these documents also reveal. Epic suggests the inclusion of Deadpool in Chapter 2 Season 2's battle pass helped it become the best-selling battle pass since December 2018 (the launch of the winter-themed Chapter 1 Season 7).

Star Wars is the second-biggest seller, followed closely by the game's long-time ability to buy NFL skins, then revenue from the Travis Scott and Marshmello concerts, ahead of DC Comics, John Wick, Ninja, Nike, Drake and Borderlands 3 promotions.

At least on iOS platforms, Fortnite makes 26 percent of its revenue from battle pass sales, 67 percent from the item shop, and seven percent from real-money bundle sales.

All of this detail has been made newly public as part of the ongoing Epic vs Apple court proceedings which have also shown how much Epic pays for free games on its store and detailed swathes of cancelled/postponed upcoming Fortnite content - including a potential crossover with Metroid, and a possible upcoming survival simulator mode.