In the past year, few games have captured the public imagination quite like Fortnite. In July 2017, its producer Epic Games presented it to the world for the first time. Interestingly, Fortnite’s first iteration was a paid version and launched with little fanfare. Two months later, Epic Games released a free-to-play version of the apocalyptic survival game. The popularity of the free version exploded seemingly overnight and has since become the subject of ongoing jokes in which significant others, friends, and family neglect responsibilities because they’re too busy playing the game.
According to YouTube head of global gaming Ryan Wyatt, Fortnite holds a record for the most videos uploaded in a month related to a video game. The game is also responsible for YouTube’s most-viewed live gaming stream ever, with 1.1 million concurrent viewers.
On iOS alone, Fortnite is reportedly earning $2 million a day and in March the game earned $233 million in revenue across platforms. The game has captured the hearts and minds of millions across the globe. Its astounding revenue and popularity on livestreaming platforms has left brands of all types wanting to get a piece of its success.
In the following post, we’ll delve into Fortnite’s financial wins and examine the factors playing into its widespread popularity. We’ll also break down today’s top Fortnite influencers and explore various ways marketers can leverage the game.
Fortnite is a Player vs. Player (PvP) survival game in which 100 participants battle each other at once. The objective of the game is to be the last person standing at the end of each match. Set in contemporary time, players defend themselves using weapons like guns, swords, and hammers.
According to the game’s backstory, players find themselves on Earth just after a worldwide storm eliminates 98% of the population and zombie-figures arise to attack the remaining survivors. The game was launched in July 2017 by gaming and software developer Epic Games, which was founded in 1991 by Tim Sweeney.
As of January 2018, Fortnite boasts 45 million users, a number which has more than likely risen. In February, the game reportedly reached a new milestone of concurrent users, with 3.4 million people playing simultaneously.
According to Forbes, during the month of February Fortnite generated $126 million in revenue, outpacing one of its primary competitors, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), for the first time. Though by no means unimpressive, PUBG made $103 million during the month. In March, Fortnite’s monthly earnings increased to a whopping $233 million, meaning the game could make as much as $2.7 billion a year.
Interestingly, PUBG is a full-price game that costs $29.99 for XBox and PC, among other consoles. Fortnite, on the other hand, is free to play across all platforms. The game generates revenue by offering in-game purchases. Players have the opportunity to buy anything from customized outfits for their avatars, special dance moves, to specialized emotes (equivalent to an emoji). In game purchases are made with V Bucks (1,000 V Bucks cost $9.99). For a bit of context, a customized suit can cost around 100 V Bucks, or $1.00.
The growth and popularity of Fortnite is undeniable, as the below Google Trends chart demonstrates. Here we’ve broken down a few of the factors contributing to the game’s impressive growth.
1. Free To Play
Fortnite’s overwhelming popularity and explosive growth may be most accredited to its free to play component. When the game originally launched in August 2017, it didn’t hit its viral stride right away. Its producer, Epic Games, launched a free version of the game two months later in September. Following this launch, Fortnite became a country-wide and even worldwide phenomenon. By removing the barrier of purchasing of the game, Epic Games opened up Fortnite’s user base to include those either unwilling or unable to purchase the game.
Many have posited that Fortnite’s popularity can also be largely credited to its cross-device nature. The game is available on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Mac, iOS, and soon Android. As a result, a person’s ability to participate isn’t dependent on his/her access to a dedicated gaming console and the game can be played virtually anywhere.
3. Influencer & Channel Support
Aside from factors inherent to the game, gaming influencers on Twitch and YouTube have contributed heavily to Fortnite’s growth and popularity. Twitch’s top 10 influencers maintain over 23 million followers cumulatively and seven out of the 10 feature Fortnite livestreams on their channels. Both Fortnite let’s play videos and Fortnite livestreams have been widely received. Take for instance the Fortnite highlight video below created by gaming influencer Tyler Blevins — aka Ninja — it has over 28 million views.
4. Cartoonish Graphics
In addition to few barriers preventing people from playing, Fortnite’s cartoonish graphics may also be a strong contributor to its success. Unlike a game like PUBG, that contains hyper-realistic landscapes and characters, Fortnite’s appearance is concertedly not real. Its cartoonish graphics make the game appealing to gamers of all ages, especially younger users who might not be allowed to play realistic-looking games containing violence.
5. Live Game Play
Fortnite matches are also played in real-time against real people, making for a highly intense gaming experience wrought with anticipation. As the number of remaining players dwindles the area of gameplay also decreases, ensuring that action remains high throughout a match. This is compounded by the fact that an average match usually lasts roughly 20 minutes.
Players can also continue watching a match after they’ve been eliminated. This feature, very similar to a gaming livestream on Twitch or YouTube Gaming, or a let’s play video, appeals to gamers’ interest in not only playing videos games but spectating.
Related Post: Why YouTube Gaming Channels Are Growing. Fast.
Popular Fortnite player Tyler Blevins — aka Ninja — is Twitch’s most followed streamer, with 7.2 million followers. Blevin’s Fortnite claim to fame is a livestream he hosted with Drake, Travis Scott, and Juju Smith-Schuster in March 2018. The group played Fortnite together and broke Twitch’s record for the most views of a single livestream (upwards of 635,000 concurrent spectators).
Though he’s chosen to remain relatively anonymous, Dakotaz has quickly become one of the internet’s most popular Fortnite players. His reported 1,500 Fortnite wins are a credit to his skill and gaming ability. Not only does Dakotaz play Fortnite during daily Twitch livestreams, he has also created several Fortnite highlight videos on YouTube, as well as Fortnite tutorials to help others improve.
Father, husband, and Midwest-based gamer Ben Lupo, better known as DrLupo, is famous for his enthusiastic Fortnite commentary on both Twitch and YouTube. Lupo is a sponsored Fortnite streamer and streams Fortnite gameplay on Twitch nearly every day. He is also known for his intimate connection with fans, which he leveraged to raise $40,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation last year.
It’s not entirely clear how much top influencers are making by playing Fortnite on Twitch. Multiple sources (Business Insider, Time, CNBC) have shared that Tyler Blevins (Ninja) is making $500,000 a month through Fortnite livestreams on Twitch. Of Blevins over 7.2 million Twitch followers, more than 160,000 are paying subscribers who pay $5.00 a month for premium content like emotes and badges. For every subscription Blevin pockets $3.50, meaning he could be making $560,000 a month by playing Fortnite on Twitch. This figure also discludes earnings from sponsorships and ads, which could add significantly to his monthly revenue.
1. Partner With Fortnite Influencers
The popularity and influence of today’s biggest Fortnite players is undeniable. On Twitch, YouTube, and YouTube gaming millions are tuning in to watch live Fortnite gameplay or catch highlights.
Brands should take advantage of Fortnite gameplay on all the above platforms by partnering with influencers known for their Fortnite prowess to create sponsored content. Whether a sponsored Twitch livestream or a YouTube video, if brands can insert themselves into the Fortnite community in an innovative way they’re likely to win the business of engaged consumers.
2. Capitalize On The Mobile Gaming Trend
Fortnite is allegedly earning more than $2 million a day on iOS alone. The game isn’t an outlier in regards to its impressive mobile revenue. Candy Crush Saga generates $2.2 million in daily revenue, making it the highest grossing mobile gaming app in the U.S.
Apart from capitalizing on Fortnite’s popularity, marketers should take advantage of mobile gaming popularity more widely. Mobile games can function as a new advertising avenue for brands, whether through brand integrations, playable brand ads, or mote. Marketers should consider the possibility of collaborating with mobile gaming apps to reach their massive and diverse user bases.