If you thought Fortnite was big before, just wait.
Epic Games, the maker of the hit video game, has announced plans to provide $100 million for a prize pool in the title’s first year of competitive play. That’s more than four times bigger than any esports tournament has ever offered.
“In the 2018 – 2019 season, Epic Games will provide $100,000,000 to fund prize pools for Fortnite competitions,” the company said in a blog post. “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, which is owned in part by China’s Tencent, did not detail its plans further.
Esports have grown into a hugely popular experience for gamers (and whose popularity has swollen to the point where they’re being considered as part of the 2024 Olympics). There’s big money in them for players, but for game makers, they’ve largely been marketing opportunities.
To date, the biggest tournament has been Valve Software’s DOTA, which last year had a pool of $25 million (and that money was crowdfunded, rather than contributed directly from the publisher). Epic’s $100 million pot is bigger than the 10 most popular esports tournaments combined according to numbers taken from esportsearnings.com.
That money could bring in a big new audience of viewers as well. And esports is already drawing more than many prime time shows. Turner’s eLeague, for instance, has brought 10 million new viewers to the TBS network—and over 25% of the viewing audience for eLeague events has been in the coveted 18-34 demographic.
Fortnite is available on PC and all major console systems, as well as iOS devices. It will hit Android devices this summer.