The top 10 most profitable free-to-play online games in 2018

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The games and interactive media industry grew 13% in 2018 as Fortnite disrupted the status quo. The red-hot battle royale title generated the most annual revenue of any game in history and popularised gaming video content (GVC) among mainstream audiences.

Free-to-play titles amassed 80% of digital games revenue in 2018, but premium games still performed well in Western markets.

At the top of the free to play list is unsurprisingly Fortnite with a revenue of $2.4 billion and 60% greater than the second game on the list, Dungeon Fighter Online with a revenue of $1.5B. Fortnite was released in 2017 making it the youngest game on the list, and it has seen unprecedented exponential growth since launch which makes you wonder how long can it go on for or will the bubble burst or will its growth plateau?

The free to play gaming market is worth $87.7B in comparison to the premium gamers market of $17.8B and the $52B of the online gaming market such as allvideoslots.

Fortnite has spread across platforms helping it to grow its audience considerably; this has then been bolstered by the boom in game streaming and the introduction of eSports competitions.  Epic also kept the momentum going with regular updates including new modes, weapons and environments.  

Fornite’s monetisation came from the battle pass, a limited time in-game purchase that rewards players with digital items as they complete challenges. Other games such as DOTA have done this in the past but not to the level of Fornite, and this is their primary source of income. 34% of US Fortnite players buy digital passes regularly.

Fornite is also the game that has helped grow the gaming video content market further, with a 10% growth in unique viewers in 2018. Twitch was easily the highest earning platform with a 31% market share and $1.6 billion in revenue.

Ninja famed as being one of the best Fortnite players dominated on Twitch with 218 million hours watched more than double the 95M Riot Games achieved in second.

44% of the Fortnite viewers are under 25 with many being younger children and teenagers, this is why Ninja decided to curb his swearing during live streams.

PositionTitlePublisherGenreRelease YearRevenue
1Fortnite Epic Games Shooter 2017$2.4B
2Dungeon Fighter Online Nexon RPG 2009$1.5B
3League of Legends Riot Games, Tencent MOBA 2009$1.4B
4Pokemon GO NianIc Adventure 2016$1.3B
5Crossfire Smilegate, Tencent Shooter 2008$1.3B
6Honour of Kings Tencent MOBA2016$1.3B
7Fate/Grand Order Aniplex RPG 2015$1.2B
8Candy Crush SagaKing, AcIvision BlizzardPuzzle 2012$1.1B
9Monster Strike Mixi RPG 2013$1.0B
10Clash Royale Supercell, TencentStrategy 2016$0.9B

Data from SuperData

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