The rapper Travis Scott took the stage mounted on an asteroid during a concert witnessed last month by the cameraman british YouTube Jon Hutchinson. The special effects were vivid, the set changed constantly, the place was intimate.

One of the best events up to now”, Hutchinson said on Twitter. “Absolutely unreal”.

If you are thinking of a concert in the middle of a confinement and overall induced by a pandemic it is unwise, you are right. This concert, however, was organized virtually by the mega-video game Fortnite.

A resounding success since its launch in 2017, the popularity of Fortnite has become to explode as people flock to the video games in the midst of the tedium and the isolation of the quarantine of COVID-19. The concerts are just an example of how the creator of Fortnite, Tim Sweeney, has redefined gaming as a social experience immersive.

Their efforts have diversified the income of his developer with headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, Epic Games, increasing his net worth to US$ 9,600 million, according to the Index of billionaires of Bloomberg.

The company has been in talks to raise a new round of financing, with a price above its last valuation of US$ 15,000 million, reported Bloomberg last month.

Sweeney is just one of the few titans of video games that benefit from a moment of rebirth caused by the confinement. Players not only have had more time to spend on your hobby, but fans of traditional sports have increasingly turned to the virtual equivalent to quench their thirst for competition.

With the people sheltered in all over the world, games are one of the few options available” says Carter Rogers, an analyst of research firm SuperData.

Digital distribution

And this begins to be reflected in the sales. The us consumer spending on video games, jumped to a record US$10.900 million in the first quarter, a 9% increase over the previous year, said research firm NPD Group in a report published on Friday.

The anticipation for the release of Cyberpunk 2077, a role-playing game futuristic starring Keanu Reeves, has boosted the fortune of the co-founders of the game developer, the Polish CD Projekt.

The stock has risen around 75% since mid-march, which gives the friends of high school Marcin Iwinski and Michal Kicinski a net worth of US$ 1,100 million and US$ 970 million, respectively. The company only distributes games digitally, which has proven to be an advantage over some rivals.

Pony Ma, co-founder and executive director of the china Tencent Holdings Ltd., it is one of the biggest winners in the wealth index this year, with an increase of US$ 4,400 million. The sales of online games of the company shot up 31% in the first quarter, even while the chinese economy contracted at a record pace.

Tencent, the publisher of games the world’s largest, has more than 100 titles, including League of Legends and Honor of Kings. It also owns a stake in Epic Sweeney.

Kim Jung-Ju, the founder of the Korean gaming company listed on the Tokyo Nexon Co., has seen his wealth jump nearly 40% this year to US$ 6,900 million. Nexon pioneered the business model “freemium”, where the players get free access to the games but pay extra virtual. This strategy was also adopted with success by Fortnite.

The games no cost have helped to attract newcomers. In normal times, the volume of players is a key factor to boost the revenue of a game. SuperData estimates that Fortnite generated US$ 1,800 million in the last year of the players who bought their virtual currency to spend on things like costumes and dances.

Arrogance, humility

With the deepening of the recession, it is not clear whether the new players will make up for the decrease in spending in the game.

For Sweeneyany fall in the purchases of Fortnite probably will be overshadowed by the larger success of the empire Epic, which is consolidating around its vision of the game as an activity that unites and community. That mission has been reinforced by the success of HouseParty, an application group video chat that Epic acquired, whose popularity has soared during the pandemic.

It is also changing the industry through Epic Games Store, an online marketplace in which Sweeney began to compete with the seller dominant, Steam. Epic has won the favor of the developers to charge less than half of the commission on Steam for titles published through your site, and attract players with free downloads regular. Last week, the offer of free copies of Grand Theft Auto V proved so popular that it crashed the web site.

Sweeney he has excelled in understanding the social importance of the games, according to Joost van Dreunen, an investor and professor of business video games at the University of New York.

The spirit of the company “it is an interesting mix of arrogance and humility, ” he said. “Is what you’d expect from Sweeney. Started this company from the basement of their parents, the man has never had a job reasonable. He only thinks: ‘we eat the world without problems.’ To dream so big you have to have guts”.