2 min read


This sto­ry orig­i­nal­ly appeared on PC Mag

Which do you think is a big­ger deal, Avengers: Endgame or Fort­nite? Okay, sure, for 2019, the super­heroes made a killing glob­al­ly, pulling in $2.8 bil­lion in box office gross­es. But Fortnite—a game that is “free-to-play” for any­one, on any plat­form, man­aged to make $1.8 bil­lion. And it is far from alone. The top 5 free-to-play games each made over $1.5 bil­lion in 2019, accord­ing to Super­Da­ta.

The Sta­tista chart above shows the oth­er big names in the top five: Dun­geon Fight­er Online, Hon­our of Kings (a.k.a. Are­na of Val­or), League of Leg­ends, and old stal­wart Can­dy Crush Saga. The rest of the top ten include Poke­mon Go, Cross­fire, Fate/Grand Order, Game for Peace, and Last Shel­ter: Sur­vival. All had over $1.1 bil­lion in rev­enue last year.

Com­pare that num­ber two “free” game (Dun­geon Figher Online at $1.6 bil­lion in rev­enue) to the sec­ond biggest movie of the year, The Lion King, which did­n’t even crack a bil­lion, at $968 mil­lion. It’s obvi­ous: The gam­ing indus­try is (can­dy) crush­ing it.

Break it down by plat­form, and you’ll be even more aston­ished. The free-to-play games are rack­ing in cash like a thresh­er pulls in hay, to the tune of $87.1 bil­lion total. Mobile “free” games alone made $64.4 bil­lion; on the low end, con­sole games had a mere $1.5 bil­lion in rev­enue from free games.

If you’re not up on what the “freemi­um” mod­el is all about, it means any­one can down­load the games for noth­ing and play them. But to get addi­tion­al content—new lev­els, vir­tu­al equip­ment, looks for char­ac­ters, and so on—people tend to pay. And hand­some­ly. The rev­enue increase from 2018 to 2019 for free-to-play games is 6 per­cent.

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