'Fortnite' Prize Pool: Why a $100 Million Esports Tournament Is a Huge Deal
Epic Games is making history by transforming Fortnite: Battle Royale into one of the biggest esports games around by offering $100 million as prize money for the first year of competitive play.
Epic Games announced on Monday via its blog that the company would provide $100 million for Fortnite esports tournament prize pools for the first year of competitive play. That means that from 2018 to 2019, the best Fortnite players in the world can earn perhaps more money than pros in any other game. “We’re getting behind competitive play in a big way, but our approach will be different,” the official announcement reads. “We plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game.” That could mean almost anything, but if Epic Games wants to “be more inclusive,” then it probably means that anyone can compete, which isn’t always the case in pro esports leagues. But the sheer amount of the prize money available is what’s really astounding.
By comparison, the Call of Duty World League Championship that kicked off in December has the largest total prize pool in Call of Duty Esports history at $4.2 million. The 2018 Overwatch League season will reach somewhere around $3.5 million in total prizes. Even Dota 2 tournaments, some of the most lucrative in the industry, only reached about $38 million in prize money last year. So with $100 million on the line, Epic Games is doing esports in a big way. (It helps that they make at least $2 million a day from the game.)
Specific details for how the upcoming competitive season will work are still scant, but the announcement does urge fans to “Stay tuned for more details about competitive structures and eligible platforms in the weeks ahead!” That probably means that some platforms are ineligible, so don’t expect to win any money playing Fortnite on your phone. Chances are that Fortnite’s competitive esports play will only be available on consoles and/or PC. But what might the new competitive league look like?
Fortnite first dabbled in more competitive play earlier this May with its Solo Showdown mode, which required participating players to complete 50 battle royales to be ranked against others. The top 100 players earned in-game V-Bucks, but one day soon they might earn legit IRL money. Chances are high that an official competitive league would look pretty similar, and maybe even function like Overwatch’s competitive seasons. For all we know, Fortnite esports might take place entirely online. We’ll have to wait and see.