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$100m prize fund offered for Fortnite game play

Fortnite Image copyright Epic
Image caption Epic Games is offering $100m prize fund for Fortnite players

Publisher Epic Games has announced that it will be offering a prize pot of $100m (£74m) for Fortnite competitions.

The prize fund has been set aside for the first year of competitive play of the popular game due to start later this year.

It is believed to be the biggest sum of money offered for an e-sports tournament.

Epic made the announcement in a blog post.

It said: "Fortnite Competitors! Grab your gear, drop in and start training. Since the launch of Fortnite Battle Royale we've watched the passion for community competition grow and can't wait to empower you to battle with the best.

"In the 2018-19 season, Epic Games will provide $100m to fund prize pools for Fortnite competitions. We're getting behind competitive play in a big way, but our approach will be different - we plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game."

Fortnite is a survival shooting game that lets players build structures out of materials they scavenge from the game world.

No further details have been revealed at this stage but games industry experts believe the announcement is a smart marketing move by Epic.

"It is quite an impressive headline figure, but there is no detail on how the money is going to be divided, whether there will be a traditional tournament and a world champion player or lots of smaller tournaments." said Piers Harding-Rolls, director of games research at IHS Markit.

"China's Tencent, who own part of Epic, have said that they plan to launch Fortnite in China, so, in effect, this is a very large marketing budget.

"Launching the game into a competitive e-sports market like China means that it is less of a gamble than the headline suggests," added Mr Harding-Rolls.

He added that the game has not yet been established as an e-sports game so this would be a good way to try to "establish itself as a major e-sports proposition".

E-sports is organised, competitive computer gaming and can be staged in front of a live audience and watched by millions more people online.

Fortnite first was launched in June 2017. Its most popular format is the Battle Royale mode, launched in September of that year, which pits 100 players against each other, some of whom are in small teams, to see who is the last person standing.

The game is free but players can spend real money on in-app purchases including skins to customise player avatars.

According to games analytics firm Superdata, Fortnite made $126m in February this year from in-game purchases.

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