When the Magnavox Odyssey was released in 1972, no one anticipated that the video game industry was going to explode the way it did. Today, it is more difficult to find a house that does not have at least one entertainment console or that has not used a computer to play. In the last year, online games took the industry by surprise with a simple but effective strategy: no need to pay to use it, but to customize the character to be used.
Online Gaming and business
The emblematic case of this trend is Online Gaming such as Fortnite Battle Royale, a game developed by the company Epic Games. The modality is that 100 players must fight in a battle royale , where the player that remains standing results in the winner. It can be used on consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, on computers with minimal hardware requirements or on mobile phones. The game is updated after several weeks and while it is not the first free-to-play game in the market, it is the most recognized and used thanks to having become a banner of contemporary popular culture. In March 2019, more than 250 million registered users were recorded, an increase of 20% over the previous year. The recorded peak of connected players at the same time was 10.8 million earlier this year, when DJ Marshmello performed a virtual concert.
The free download mode may seem crazy, but Epic concentrates its profits on the sale of “V-Bucks”, a currency that can be used to buy implements that modify the appearance of the character with which it is played. In 2018 alone, recorded earnings were $ 2.4 billion, making it the most profitable in the history of the industry . Keep in mind that these numbers are thanks to a worldwide penetration that excludes China, a country in which the restrictions do not allow it to be used as easily as in other markets.
What can be learned from this case? Fortnite modernized the Gillette model of selling razors at cost and recouping profit with the blades. Most important of all, the game does not look like a free product, its look and feel has nothing to envy other similar options that are purchased. However, a niche was found, exploited and became synonymous with the genre in no time.