This just in: Fortnite Battle Royale, the wildly popular online shooter game, isn’t as wildly popular as it once was. Part of that dip is apparently the fault of Fortnite itself: Players were disgruntled with the tweaks made to the game in recent weeks and moved away from it—at least temporarily. But simple game fatigue may play a role. No matter: According to Google Trends, Minecraft recently usurped Fortnite as the most popular online game in the world.
But even if Fortnite’s popularity is slipping, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a fine way to earn a living.
OK, for most gamers, Fortnite is admittedly not a lucrative pastime. Though the game itself is free to play, its in-game purchases combined with all the time players actually spend on the thing instead of, y’know, working, most probably cost most of ’em money.
But 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf, known as “Bugha” online, doesn’t regret the time he spent playing the game one little whittle. He won the Fortnite World Cup Solo Finals this weekend—along with $3 million.
And I thought I had a weird gig.
Giersdorf wasn’t the only guy to take home some serious cash at the Fortnite World Cup. The second-place finisher, known online as Psalm, pocketed $1.8 million, while EpikWhale scored $1.2 million. And every player who qualified for the Cup in one of three categories (solo, duos and “creative”) took home a fine parting gift of $50,000.
Average age of the competitors? A spry 16. Clearly, not many competitors will be spending their money on razors yet.
The competition is more evidence of the rise of esports. While most parents may think of videogames as innocuous diversions at best (and brain-eating time wasters at worst), it’s big business now, and some people think it might presage what “sports” might look like in the future. Colleges dished out $15 million in esports scholarships last year, and the average youth spends nearly three-and-a-half hours a week watching people play video games online. That makes it the most popular spectator sporting event on the globe.
And while esports aren’t an Olympic event quite yet, it may become one sooner than you think. In 2018, the BBC reported that organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics were “deep in talks” about adding it as a demonstration sport.
It’s all very interesting. I’d love to talk more, but I gotta run and brush up on my Space Invaders skills.