At any time of the day, close to three million people play Fortnite simultaneously. According to its developer, Epic Games, the video game had a total of 350 million registered accounts in 2020.
Users can level up by opening chests, obtaining skins, weapons or powers, getting crowns or eliminating other players. Frequent players earn experience points and can also make a profit by purchasing items offered in the game.
The world of video games generates about 150,000 million euros in revenue a year, according to the American consultancy Newzoo. The number exceeds that of the film and music industries combined, and continues to grow. The business is not only profitable for the big promoters: foreign markets are baffled by costumes, bows, knives, screws, powers of attorney, virtues, keys and trunks – and accounts.
Javier Collado, 26, has entered the business where everything is virtual, except money (although some operations do use cryptocurrencies). He has been playing video games his whole life. His friends are players from other parts of the world whom he has never met in person. One of them told him that there he could monetize his hobby: create accounts, play and level up, and then sell them to other players. He was attracted to the idea of making a profit. He has already sold over a thousand accounts. He doesn’t see it as a business, since he uses the profits to pay for his aviation studies and complete the flight hours he needs to be a commercial pilot. But thanks to his fans, he now earns a salary that ranges “between 1,200 and 1,500 euros a month,” he says.
It started with one account. He played the game “from morning to night” for a week and had it ready for sale. He repeated the maneuver about 20 more times. The account that brought him the most money won €300. In his best months, after Christmas, which is one of the times when his services are most in demand, he earned €3,000. (Platforms that facilitate buying and selling keep between 15% and 20% of the income). Collado has a tax advisor, makes his declarations and pays taxes.
After his first foray into the business, he found that it was taking up a lot of his time. He had built a reputation among players and became primarily a middleman: he buys accounts in bulk and then resells them, using his reputation and the valuation of his previous buyers. That reputation allows him to acquire accounts for one to three euros and sell them for about 20 euros after consulting them and, in some cases, playing to level up. “I try to make sure that nothing can cause problems for the people who buy. I take my share of responsibility and I want the experience to be fruitful for everyone, ”he says, explaining that there are hackers who steal and sell accounts.
The motivation is clear: “Games are competitive systems. You go up and down levels. There are people who want to skip the time to invest in the first levels, or others who, after years of experience, get stuck at one level and want to go up another, ”she explains. Moving forward in this way is frowned upon, but various online sites serve as platforms for sellers and buyers, even managing warranty systems. Some even withhold payment for several weeks until the buyer verifies that everything is in order and that the purchase corresponds to the offer.
Collado is convinced that the owners of the games know these pages. The account market generates more interest in playing, more motivation for those who open a new account thinking they can improve, and more incentives.
Anyone can enter the business, Javier Collado knows. But he is not afraid of losing market share: users are very competitive and tend to look for account resellers who offer them guarantees or who, like him, specialize in certain games.