Free to play, expensive to love: 'Fortnite' changes video game business – Reuters

(Reuters) – To see the storm that online video game “Fortnite” has unleashed on the world, just visit Jett Sacher in Brooklyn. The 13-year-old spends an hour or two every day on the game with his friends and is not afraid to spend his pocket money on it – bit by bit.

“So I bought one dance, two skins and the battle pass,” Sacher told Reuters TV about recent gaming sessions. “So that’s, I spent $20 on both skins so $40 … and the dance was another $10 so $50, 60 bucks, something like that.”

Sacher’s pay-as-you-go expenditure on dressing up his online avatar in the ‘free-to-play’ game helped “Fortnite” take in an estimated $223 million from in-game purchases in March, according to Joost Van Dreunen at research firm SuperData.

“Fortnite,” a sort of hybrid of “The Hunger Games” and “Minecraft,” drops 100 people onto an island to fight each other for survival. It is a game-changer in the industry, analysts have said, because of the huge revenue it is making from “tween” and teenage boys purchasing outfits and other add-ons.

Its publisher, Epic Games, is now worth $4.5 billion, according to Jefferies analyst Tim O’Shea. Rival video game makers Activision Blizzard, creator of “Call of Duty,” and “Grand Theft Auto” owner Take-Two Interactive lost billions of dollars in market value in March as investors took notice of Fortnite’s ability to wring cash from players.

One big winner is Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd, which bought 48 percent of Epic in 2012. Fortnite’s storm is also giving a big boost to Amazon.com Inc’s online video service Twitch, where gamers broadcast their efforts to larger and larger captive audiences, and Discord, a chat app for gamers, which have both boasted new records.

Thirteen-year-old Jett Sacher plays the video game ‘Fortnite

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