When Fortnite first launched in 2017, it took mere months for it to take the gaming world by storm. It revolutionised the battle royale genre, effectively becoming the defining title for the vertical, acting as a staple in the industry. Following Fortnite’s overwhelming success, many other platforms sought to capitalise on the popularity of battle royale games. But, while Fortnite has remained king for many years, we’re now responding to a damning statement: Fortnite is dying.
It may not come as a shock to everyone; after all, videogames run a natural course, or ‘lifecycle’. They’re made, they’re released, they’re popular, then they’re either replaced, or they die. Now, as we take a look at Fortnite as a case study, we can see that it hasn’t really been replaced, so… Is Fortnite really dying?
Let’s break it down.
Fortnite’s Kinda Dying
In 2020, a remarkably popular YouTube by the name of McCreamy put out a music video with a message. It was titled ‘Fortnite’s Kinda Dying’, and it was a satirical cover of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire. Within just one year, that video had racked up almost sixty million views, with many regarding the message as true. It was a statement mirrored by fans and critics of the title alike: Fortnite’s Kinda Dying.
The Fortnite’s Kinda Dying lyrics painted a clear picture – the game had entered a backslide, it had stagnated, and in many ways, had become boring. When the music video was released, Fortnite had existed for around three years, and in that time, very little had changed in the world of Fortnite. At its core, it remained the exact same game that Epic Games had released in 2017 – the formula was identical.
While the map had received changes and more skins and abilities had been added to the battle royale game, it was fundamentally the same. In Fortnite’s Kinda Dying, we hear a tale of the struggle experienced by countless Fortnite players. They’re coming to terms with the fact that their favourite game might be on its deathbed. Now, well over a year later, we’re still asking whether or not Fortnite is dying.
Let’s Look At The Numbers
According to Business of Apps, a data and statistics reporting platform, Fortnite is not dying. At least, not in terms of the general userbase, which has grown by around 50 million users every year since 2019. In 2017, there were approximately 20 million registered Fortnite players, and by 2021, that number had swollen to more than 350 million. In line with that number, the count of monthly active players also grew, from 78.3 million in 2018 to around 80.4 million in 2020.
Fortnite Registered Users
Furthermore, it revealed the Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, have been making huge sums of cash from the platform. In 2018, Fortnite’s revenue exceeded $5.4 billion, before dropping considerably through 2019. However, there was another upsurge, and Epic Games pocketed $5.1 billion in Fortnite revenue in 2020. While the statistics suggest people are playing less Fortnite every week in terms of duration, there are still plenty of users both joining and using the platform.
If you go by numbers alone, it’s a pretty solid defence against the claim that Fortnite is dying. And, it isn’t just Business of Apps that puts these figures out there – data giant Statista also offers up similar numbers. In fact, many platforms back up these facts, with the likes of Gfinity, Dexerto, and Distractify all agreeing that Fortnite isn’t dying.
But Is That True Across The Board?
Let’s be honest, it isn’t just player count that’s important when asking the question, is Fortnite dying?
On platforms like Twitch, the hours spent watching Fortnite have varied wildly over the last year or two. While Fortnite remains consistently high in the Twitch rankings – often in the top ten – it has experienced some slumps in the past. For example, in Q1 of 2020, viewing hours dropped to an all-time low of approximately 293 million, before surging up in Q2 of 2020 to around 560 million.
But, as we write this article, Fortnite’s monthly hour count sits at the lowest point it has in more than a year. Furthermore, the special Fortnite events that Epic Games puts out have received progressively less attention as they’ve gone on. While more people are playing Fortnite every day, they’re not enjoying it across all mediums.
Why exactly is that?
Jumping Off The Sinking Battle Bus
Unfortunately, in the last year or two, some of the best Fortnite players in the world have abandoned the title. While there are still plenty of Fortnite tournaments being played, they seem to have less coverage than in recent years. For example, in late 2020, competitors fought it out in a tense tournament with a $5 million prize pool, but it wasn’t heavily publicised. Although there might still be many opportunities for a little Fortnite esports betting, there does seem to be a decline in overall popularity.
And, let’s not forget, many of the best Fortnite streamers also abandoned the platform in favour of other games. For example, the likes of Nickmercs, Ninja, Tfue, and SypherPK all left the platform, moving on to bigger and better things. As they transitioned away, they took hundreds of thousands of Fortnite viewers with them.
Of course, as you can also imagine, they boosted the profile of whatever game they moved on to.
It’s A Dense Market Out There
Let’s put a cap on this suggestion that Fortnite is dying.
Ultimately, there’s much more competition for Fortnite than ever before. In the battle royale genre, we’re seeing the likes of Warzone, PUBG, Apex Legends, and more, niche titles. It’s a dense market out there, and Fortnite has to change up the formula to contend more effectively or risk losing the battle.
As the bulk of its audience is getting older, it’s becoming a platform reserved exclusively for a young, developing market. It’s hard to retain those users and follow trends in the industry alongside them, as they too are eager to experience the next best thing.
So, Fortnite, you’re not dying yet, but the future is unwritten.