Plenty of major players in the video game industry have stepped up to support Ukraine after Russian forces invaded back in February. But games these days don’t get much bigger than Fortnite, especially when a new season is launching.
As the hit battle royale remained offline Sunday morning ahead of Chapter 3’s second season launch, developer Epic Games announced its plans to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. All money earned in Fortnite between March 20, the day the new season kicks off, and April 3 will be split between four organizations that have been providing aid during the conflict.
In a corresponding move, Microsoft joined Epic in making the same pledge: Net profits from Fortnite sales on Xbox platforms will go to the same spread of charities.
Of the four charities Epic and Microsoft are supporting, three are led by the United Nations: U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), U.N. World Food Programme (UNWFP), and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Fortnite‘s donations will also support Direct Relief, a U.S.-based nonprofit that, in their own words, is on a mission “to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies – without regard to politics, religion, or ability to pay.”
It’s hard to say what two weeks worth of Fortnite profits amounts to in dollars, but it’s likely not a small number. The game accounted for roughly $9 billion in revenue across 2018 and 2019, and Epic — which also licenses out one of the most widely used game development tool packages in the industry and operates the currently money-losing Epic Games Store — made $5.1 billion in 2020.
A new season launch is always the busiest time for Fortnite, with normal Item Store sales bolstered by committed players buying their seasonal Battle Passes. This new one also brings a number of exciting features and additions, including a Doctor Strange outfit that’s unlockable via the Battle Pass and a “no build” mode, which turns off Fortnite‘s signature building mechanics in the battle royale game.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t Epic’s first move to support Ukraine. As the business world moved to isolate Russia financially shortly after the invasion began in late February, the Fortnite maker joined others in suspending its commercial activities in Russia.
Epic opted against cutting off all of its services there, however, noting in its announcement that “we’re not blocking access for the same reason other communication tools remain online: the free world should keep all lines of dialogue open.”