“Fortnite” is celebrating its first birthday.
Video game developer Epic Games launched “Fortnite” — the massively popular multi-player online survival game that’s taken the gaming world by storm, with 125 million players overall and over $1 billion in revenue, so far — on July 24, 2017, one year ago on Tuesday.
To help players celebrate its one-year milestone, Fortnite’s developers unveiled some birthday-themed tweaks to the game’s “Battle Royale” mode on Tuesday. The new features include birthday cakes hidden throughout the game’s virtual map and multiple birthday-themed challenges that players can unlock by finding all 10 of the game’s hidden cakes, according to gaming site Polygon.
In addition to finding the 10 cakes, players can complete a set of challenges — including playing 14 “Battle Royale” matches and inflicting 1,000 points of damage to enemy players — to be awarded a virtual backpack shaped like a birthday cake for their in-game avatar to sport in future matches, according to Polygon. While the game’s “Battle Royale” mode is free to play, “Fortnite” makes millions of dollars each day on in-game purchases where players buy new costumes and tools (like a pick-axe) for their virtual stand-ins.
“Fortnite” also added birthday streamers and balloons in some parts of the game, most notably on the flying bus that delivers virtual players to the game’s “Battle Royale” multi-player challenges.
The makers of “Fortnite” did not disclose how long the new birthday features will be available in the game, but Epic Games regularly updates the game with daily and weekly challenges, so it’s safe to assume that the new challenges will be cycled out within a week at least.
Of course, the most popular aspect of “Fortnite” — the free, “Battle Royale” version that attracts over 40 million players each month — is not even a year old yet. Epic Games first launched “Fortnite” on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Mac in July 2017 as a game that cost roughly $40 to download, with players battling against computer-controlled zombies. It wasn’t until September 2017 that Epic Games first launched the game’s “Battle Royale” version, where 100 players at a time battle it out to the death with a various weapons and tools at their disposal.
It was the free-to-play “Battle Royale” version of the game that truly turned “Fortnite” into one of the gaming industry’s hottest properties. More than 3.4 million people were reportedly playing the game at the same time at one point in February, according to Epic Games, and the video game developer has already announced plans for a "Fortnite" tournament sometime in 2018 that would offer players a shot at the largest-ever prize pool for an esports tournament: $100 million.
Meanwhile, the success of “Fortnite” has meant a major windfall for Epic Games, the North Carolina-based game developer that is partially owned by Chinese gaming company Tencent. The game recently surpassed the $1 billion-mark from in-game revenue, according to the gaming intelligence company SuperData. “Fortnite” is on pace to generate more than $2 billion in 2018, which would value Epic Games between $5 billion and $8 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg adds that the success of “Fortnite” has likely made a billionaire of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney — the company’s controlling shareholder — who founded the company as a college student in 1991 when he was still living in his parents’ house in Maryland.
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!