Fortnite has boosted the value of creator Epic Games by a staggering amount. But the mega-popular video game has also turned some of its players into mega millionaires.
Richard Tyler Blevins, who’s better known as Ninja among fans of the game, says he made nearly $10 million in 2018 playing Fortnite. And he could well be poised to top that this year.
Ninja is, hands down, the most popular Fortnite streamer on Twitch and YouTube. He has become a cultural phenomenon in the gaming world, with one stream last year gathering 667,000 viewers. (His YouTube channel has over 20 million subscribers.)
To many, those numbers don’t mean a lot. Think of it this way, though. About 12.5 million Twitch users follow Ninja on the game streaming site, tuning in when he’s online playing (which is often). About 40,000 of those pay to do so, paying between $5 and $25 per month.
Over on YouTube, meanwhile, he earns a percentage of every ad that airs during his videos. Those video views, last year, ranged from 3 million to 38 million. That adds up quickly.
Beyond that, companies like Samsung, Uber Eats and Red Bull sponsor Ninja, paying to be associated with him.
Some might argue that playing video games doesn’t count as work, but Ninja points out that he played more than 4,000 hours of Fortnite last year. That’s the equivalent of a 15-plus-hour workday five days a week.
Fortnite fever, meanwhile, is still going strong. The game which crossed the billion-dollar threshold in July 2018. Also last year, Epic announced it would provide $100 million to find prize pools for the game’s first year of competitive play. That figure was four times larger than any e-sports tournament had ever offered. And over Thanksgiving weekend, it launched a $1 million qualifying event for an upcoming World Cup-like Fortnite tournament.