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Fortnite made $1.8 billion in 2019, retains title as highest-earning game

Global phenomenon Fortnite retained its title as the highest-earning game in 2019, with the free-to-play shooter earning a staggering $1.8 billion in revenue.

According to SuperData, the video game industry research arm of Nielsen, the overall revenue of free-to-play games increased by 6% in 2019 to $87.1 billion. In second place behind Fortnite was Dungeon Fighter Online with $1.6 billion, followed by Honour of Kings, including Arena of Valor, also with $1.6 billion. In fourth place and fifth place were League of Legends and Candy Crush Saga, both with $1.5 billion, followed by Pokémon GO with $1.4 billion.

SuperData also highlighted Apex Legends, which it said disrupted the free-to-play market through its “groundbreaking marketing strategy.” While the Battle Royale shooter did not break into the top 10 earners for 2019, it set a new record of the fastest 50 million downloads for any PC or console game.

Fortnite‘s earnings in 2019 actually declined by 25%, from a record-setting $2.4 billion in 2018. However, the shooter still surpassed all other free-to-play games due to its consistent updates and monetization through battle passes, according to SuperData. “The game has been extremely successful at converting players to spenders,” it said. While there are more League of Legends players, Fortnite players on PC are twice as likely to spend on in-game items compared to players of the MOBA.

SuperData added that Fortnite was able to retain its popularity partly due to its crossover promotions with big names in pop culture such as Marvel’s Avengers, Stranger Things, and Star Wars.

Spending on premium games, or the games that players need to buy first, were down 5% in 2019, which SuperData said was due to a gap year in AAA game launches. FIFA 19 was the top earner last year among premium games on the PC and consoles with $786 million in revenue, followed by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare at $645 million. Grand Theft Auto V keeps making money more than six years since its release with earnings of $595 million in 2019.

Heading into 2020, it remains to be seen what is in store for Fortnite players this year. Blizzards have started appearing in most of the game’s modes though, making for interesting situations while also possibly hinting at upcoming changes to the shooter’s map.

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