Epic Games’ Fortnite is making boatloads of money on in-app purchases, taking in $126 million in the month of February and surpassing the monthly revenue pull of competitor Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds for the first time, according to game analytics firm Superdata Research. The news should come as no surprise to those who’ve been following the meteoric trajectory of Fortnite and its popular battle royale-style game mode, which puts up to 100 players against one another on a deserted island in a last-person-standing contest.
Though Epic borrowed the concept of parachuting onto an island and competing against a large number of other players from PUBG, the developer has a few key advantages over its PC-focused rival. For one, Fortnite is free-to-play. So while PUBG earned almost as much revenue in the month of February with $103 million in sales, most of those sales are one-time $30 purchases for the software license of the game itself through Steam. Fortnite, on the other hand, makes a vast majority of its money on an ongoing basis from in-app purchases, mostly of cosmetic items like goofy character skins and emotes.
PUBG also allows people to spend money on cosmetic items, but developer PUBG Corp / Bluehole hasn’t ramped up that initiative quite as fast and successfully as Epic. The developer announced this month that it plans to add emotes to the game in the future, something Fortnite has had since its battle royale game mode launched back in September. Another advantage Fortnite has is its multiplatform accessibility. The game launched on both PS4, Xbox One, and PC all at the same time last year, and just this month, it added iOS in an invite-only beta phase. Already, in roughly one week, mobile analytics firm SensorTower estimates Epic has pulled in as much as $1.5 million from the iOS port alone.
“Fortnite also has an easier learning curve and is more kid friendly thanks to its cartoonish looks. These factors have combined to make Fortnite a bona fide social phenomenon, inspiring high school exams and finding its way into sports celebrations,” writes Superdata Research in its blog post. “The title’s recent mobile launch also appeals to young players without access to game-ready PCs or consoles.” Superdata also makes a good point that PUBG suffers from problems independent of Fortnite’s success. “Cheating in PUBG remains rampant, and Bluehole has been forced to spend resources fighting this instead of creating new content and polishing the core gameplay,” the firm explains.