Tim Sweeney made Fortnite a phenomenon by doing something that sounds crazy: He gave it away.
This strategy has made him a billionaire.
In an industry with monster hits like Candy Crush and Pokemon Go, Fortnite's popularity is not surprising. His revenue is. Between the release of the current release in September and the end of May, Fortnite raised more than $ 1.2 billion, according to SuperData Research. In early June, it was played by 125 million people.
an, which has led to a jump in sales at Epic Games, Sweeney, founded 27 years ago in his parents' basement. Fortnite alone is on track to generate $ 2 billion this year, making the Cary, North Carolina-based playmaker worth $ 5 billion to $ 8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Sweeney, 47, is the controlling shareholder.
Fortnite is a global phenomenon that is obsessively played by kids, rappers, professional athletes, and middle-aged accountants. It's a cartoon battlefield that deals with battles in which players fight each other in the battle for weapons, resources and survival on a shrinking, storm-ravaged island.
Instead of shooting upwards of $ 40 for the game, players buy online V-Bucks, a virtual currency that they can use during the game for outfits, called skins, festive dances, or special missions that can cost as much as $ 20 , change.
"On the revenue side, you've done something that's truly unique, which goes along with a sense of exclusivity," said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. Many accessories in the Fortnite store are limited, so players need to buy before coveted items disappear from the virtual shelves.
"If you see another player in a leopard skin and see him in the store, he is no longer available, they think," Shoot, I have to go back next time. "
All of this trade leads to the highest conversion rates per industry user and operating margin north of 50 percent
"Epic's rating has exploded alongside Fortnite's success," said Timothy O & # 39; Shea, who covers the game at Jefferies Financial Group.
Based On the trade multipliers of competitors Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard, Epic could be worth as much as $ 14 billion, though potential buyers would demand a rebate based on questions as to whether Fortnite could sustain sales growth, said O Shea.
Self when sales should drop to $ 1 billion a year – half of its current estimate
This is a bonanza for Sweeney and the Chinese In ternet giants Tencent Holdings, which bought 40 percent of Epic in 2012 for a valuation of $ 825 million. It is still unclear what influence Fortnite had on Tencent's record. Three analysts covering the Shenzen-based company said they had not yet factored the game into their sum-of-parts ratings.
While most games gained popularity shortly after launch, Fortnite still attracted millions of new users six months later, thanks to a pleasing aesthetic that is more of a weird nonsense than graphic violence. Celebrity fans like rapper Drake and Josh Hart of the Los Angeles Lakers have pushed him further into mainstream consciousness. The French football star Antoine Griezmann celebrated this year in the World Cup final with the "Take-the-L" dance a goal.
As a social game, easy to play and difficult to master, it has been a particular success for schoolchildren who have voiced concerns from teachers and parents who report obsessive play during class.
Fortnite is not a bolt of lightning for Epic. The developer's biggest hit so far was Gears of War, a bestselling franchise for Microsoft's Xbox 360. Epic also owns Unreal Engine, one of two popular operating systems that developers rely on.
First, Epic requested customers to use the software. The sale increased when Sweeney released the product and instead collected a license fee for software games that included Mass Effect and Batman: Arkham.
Fortnite also started as a paid product. Launched in July 2017 as a $ 40 version, where players built forts to fight off zombie hordes, the game really got off the ground after Epic recreated it and added the multi-combat style
The Success even surprised Epic. At last year's E3, the industry's largest trade show, Epic showed reporters the game in a meeting room. At this year's convention, the Epic booth was dedicated to the Fortnite, with a replica of the bus that players enter at the beginning of the game, and opportunities for fans to dance in videos and hang-gliding.
This week, Epic hosted its first Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am, where guests like comedian Joel McHale and professional gamer Ninja (real name Tyler Blevin) competed in a football stadium. In May, Epic announced it would provide $ 100 million to fund prize pools for Fortnite contests.
At Epic's office, in Raleigh, North Carolina, just around the corner from a mall, employees have their choice of free ice and hot pockets. There's a game room, a two-story slide and huge sculptures of some of the company's video game characters.
Sweeney grew up in a suburb of Potomac, Maryland, and started out early in Game Design and Business. At age 11, he taught himself programming with the family's Apple computer and made a hobby of disassembling electronics.
At age 15, he ended his job in a hardware store after realizing that everyone was earning the same hourly wages, no matter how hard they worked. Instead, he borrowed his father's tractor and, after interviewing the gaming website Kotaku, began cutting neighbor lawns and undermining professional landscape gardeners.
Sweeney began designing his own games at the age of 21, packing them on floppy disks and sending them through the mail.
"Tim Sweeney is a legendary figure," said Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research Holdings, who provides market intelligence for the gaming industry. "He is a hard-working, outspoken person with a clear vision of what he wants to do."
Although Sweeney captivates millions of players, he is not a big player himself. He is an avid conservationist and one of the largest private landowners in North Carolina. After the financial crisis, he bought thousands of hectares of land, mainly in the mountains, to create nature reserves.
Sweeney often wanders through the Epic office, leaving behind large sodas. He prefers a homemade mix of 60 percent water and 40 percent Coca Cola from the company's fountains.
Sweeney tours his sprawling home in a 10-year-old video released online. The lifelong bachelor says he has never eaten in the elegant dining room and prefers to take away from Burger King. He once owned several sports cars, including a Lamborghini, but he sold most of them. He drives a Corvette 2019.
"It turns out a fast car is a great hobby if you're a workaholic, because even if you do not have spare time, you can always drive to work," he said. 19659032]