At any given time of the day, nearly three million people play Fortnite at the same time. According to its developer Epic Games, the video game boasted a total of 350 million accounts registered in 2020.
Users can level up by opening chests, obtaining “skins”, weapons or powers, achieving crowns, or eliminating other players. Repeat players gain experience points, and can also score victories by purchasing items offered in the game itself.
The video game world generates about 150 billion euros in revenue annually, according to US consulting firm Newzoo. The number exceeds that of the film and music industries combined, and continues to grow. Business isn’t just profitable for big developers: Falcon fashions, bows, knives, rivets, salads, virtues, keys, trunks — and accounts — are not only profitable.
26-year-old Javier Collado got into a business where everything is virtual, except for money (although some operations use cryptocurrency). He has been playing video games his whole life. His friends are players from other parts of the world he has never met in person. Someone told him that there he could make his hobby profitable: create accounts, play and rise through levels, and then sell them to other players. Attracted to the idea of making a profit. He has now sold over a thousand accounts. He doesn’t think of it as a business, as he allocates the profits to pay for his aviation education and complete the flying hours he needs to become a commercial pilot. But thanks to his hobby, he now earns a salary “between 1,200 and 1,500 euros a month,” he says.
I started with one account. He played the game “morning to night” for a week, and was ready to sell. Repeat the maneuver about 20 more times. The account that brought him the most money made 300 euros. In his best months, after Christmas, one of the times when his services are very popular, he made €3,000. (Platforms that facilitate buying and selling keep between 15% and 20% of revenue.) Collado has a tax advisor, who files his returns and pays taxes.
After his first entry into the business, he saw that it took a lot of time. He gained fame among players, becoming primarily a broker: he buys accounts in large quantities and then resells them, using his reputation and the evaluation of his previous buyers. This reputation allows him to get accounts for one to three euros and sell them for about 20 euros after checking them and, in some cases, playing to increase the level. “I try to make sure nothing causes problems for people who buy. I take my share of the responsibility and want the experience to be productive for everyone,” he says, explaining that there are hackers stealing and selling accounts.
The motivation is clear: “Games are competitive systems. You go up and down levels. There are people who want to skip the time that should be invested in the first levels, or other people, after years of experience, get stuck at one level and want to go up in another,” he explains. Progressing in this way is frustrating, but many pages on the Internet serve as platforms for sellers and buyers, and even manage warranty systems. Some even keep the payment for several weeks until the buyer checks that everything is OK and the purchase matches the offer.
Collado is convinced that game owners know these pages. The account market generates more interest in playing, more incentive for those who start a new account thinking they can improve and more incentives.
Javier Collado knows that anyone can enter the business. But he is not afraid of losing market share: users are very competitive, and they usually look for account sellers who give them guarantees or specialize like him in certain games.