As of February 2018, Fortnite Battle Royale has surpassed Minecraft as the top-watched game on Youtube with over 2.4 billion views. Magid’s Dewey Hammond, Vice President of Games Research, shares his thoughts on the games success, unique platform offerings, and other trends in the gaming industry.
What is behind the game’s popularity? What has driven it to become more popular than PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)?
Battle Royale games have been at a steady boil for a year or two now. Fortnite was the first to go FTP (free to play) compared to $30 for PUBG, which isn’t exactly expensive, per se, but it’s not considered cheap by PC gaming standards. Being free gave Fortnite a nice player base to start, and they’ve been able to retain and grow those players because the developers continue to release meaningful content. They’re praised for their communication skills and delivering on promises. PUBG fatigue might have played a role too. Since the release of Fortnite, one of the original Battle Royale games, H1Z1, has also gone FTP. I expect we’ll see more and more FTP across all categories.
What does this game represent for streamers?
It’s usually difficult for streamers to switch games because, when they do, their audience numbers drop. Switching from PUBG to Fortnite is an exception because it is free. Fans of any streamer can easily just pick up and play the game that their favorite streamer is playing.
What does the introduction of a mobile game mean for the game? Will it help it reach more players? Definitely. More players on more platforms. It could create headaches down the road as they work out the growing pains of syncing leaderboards and player stats across platforms, because not all platforms allow for the same precision and dexterity, but those are solvable problems. The upside of growing the player base is huge.
Do you see similar games becoming popular?
Yes. Radical Heights (Battle Royale) was just released as Early Access on Steam and is FTP. Already it’s putting up good numbers. Darwin Project is another one. It is Battle Royale meets The Truman Show or Hunger Games. There is a show director influencing the action, and each match has only 10 players compared to 100 or more. Its numbers are lower than Radical Heights but both games have been played by influential streamers, and neither is close to its potential. Escape From Tarkov isn’t exactly Battle Royale but it scratches a similar itch of high stakes, high intensity. Every experience is different and impossible to predict. Escape From Tarkov is not yet available on Steam. Until it is, I’d expect it to remain under the radar, but I think Escape From Tarkov has a bright future.