'Fortnite' Funded $100 Million By Epic Games To Support eSports, Competition Prize Pools

For the past year, battle-royale style games have become some of the most popular titles amongst hardcore gamers and casuals alike. Beginning primarily with the big push by PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds – affectionately known in the shorthand as PUBG -- to capture the majority of the market, the wild success enjoyed by Epic's subsequent effort, Fortnite Battle Royale, has shattered any illusion of dominance. The crown for the burgeoning battle royale genre was held by PUBG up until this past month, when Fortnite surpassed the older game both in the PC marketplace, according to PCGamesN, as well as on console.

With that success in hand, and an insatiable fanbase of 14- to 45-year-old gamers looking to hand over their cash for battle passes and cosmetic costumes and skins, parent company Epic Games has decided to stoke the fire by offering a huge amount of cash awards for players serious enough to enter the competitive scene. The Verge shared a blog post from the developers website.

"In the 2018 — 2019 season, Epic Games will provide $100,000,000 to fund prize pools for 'Fortnite' competitions... 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. Stay tuned for more details about competitive structures and eligible platforms in the weeks ahead."
Competitive eSports are a growing cultural artifact of our times and will soon be a billion dollar industry with enormous year-over-year growth, according to Forbes. It has long been the dream of many a true gamer growing up from the 1970s onward to play video games professionally, in front of a crowd, with all of the glitz and glamour it brings. Such fantasies have become reality for many elite players in genres ranging from real-time strategy to shooters to fighting games and beyond.

Getty Images | Ethan Miller

Fortnite Battle Royale is a simple game with a fantastic premise. You start on a flying bus, soaring above a tropical island in the middle of the ocean. The Battle Bus, as it is called by all Fortnite aficianados, looms over the island and then all of the 100 occupants jump – including you. When you choose to jump and where you choose to land are matters of prime importance, as you begin with no weapons beyond a weak melee attack and loot spawns in semi-random locations. Proximity to materials is also important as part of the title's broad appeal, and something that differentiates the game from its predecessor, PUBG, is the ability to craft structures on the fly. Walls, stairs, you name it.

After kitting out and hopefully surviving the initial fracas, the player's goal is to be the last one alive of the initial 100 survivors who landed on the island. The circle, ominous, ever-moving, and shrinking at an alarming rate, dictates the area of the island you'll need to hustle to. Stay outside of the circle too long and you'll be consumed by the storm, of which the circle represents the eye, and the only "safe" space left.

With bright and cartoonish graphics that can appeal to children and adults alike, a lack of blood or gratuitous gore of any kind, and the ability to cross-play between mobile devices like tablets or smartphones against PC gamers – it's not hard to understand why Fortnite has the gaming world firmly in its grip. The price is right – the game is entirely free, supported by optional in-app or DLC purchases – and playable from nearly any device.