Fortnite refers to a videogame series, set in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world. It is produced by Epic Games, and uses the company’s signature Unreal Engine. At present, there are two games that fall under the Fortnite umbrella: a team-based survival shooter called Fortnite: Save the World and Fortnite: Battle Royale, which as the name suggests is a last-person-standing game.
The former was released in a paid-for early access version in July 2017, with a free-to-play version anticipated in 2019. It is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and macOS.
It is the latter, however, which has been the real runaway success, becoming one of the most-played games on the planet. The player-vs-player, free-to-play game, launched in September 2017 is available on iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch as well as the aforementioned platforms, and can be played across platforms. It sees up to 100 players competing individually or in teams to be the last one/ones standing, combining shooting and construction elements.
While being free-to-play, a range of in-app purchases are available; largely access to cosmetic updates to players’ characters, which are released in limited-editions over 12-week seasons. Players must convert money into in-game currency Vinderbucks (V-Bucks) to make these purchases. Each of these seasons has a loose narrative plot, and Epic is known to introduce a range of different game modes to add variation, featuring different team-compositions or special add-ons.
Since its launch, millions of players have downloaded the game, which brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to its creators every month. It was even big enough to score an official crossover with Avengers: Infinity War.
To see just how many people play Fortnite and just how much money it brings in, as well as more Fortnite statistics and facts, read on. Unless otherwise specified, Fortnite will be used to refer to the Battle Royale game.
Table of Contents
Key Fortnite Statistics
- 125 million Fortnite players in total (May 2018)
- Highest monthly active Fortnite players: 78.3 million (August 2018)
- 63% of iOS Fortnite players aged 18-24 , 23% aged 25-34 (discounting under-18s)
- 46% of desktop Fortnite players aged 18-24, 30% aged 25-34 (discounting under-18s)
- 53% aged 10-25 across formats
- 28% of iOS Fortnite gamers are female, 72% male
- 16% of desktop Fortnite gamers are female, 84% male
- Median weekly Fortnite playing time is 6-10 hours
- Total global Fortnite playing time May-June 2018 was 2.7 billion hours
- 15% of school-going players have skipped a lot of school to play Fornite
- 6% of working players have skipped a lot of work to play Fortnite
- Launch of fifth season saw web traffic peak at 37 Tbps – five times that of 2016 US presidential election
- Fortnite surpassed 100 million iOS downloads within five months of launch
- 50% of 22 million Nintendo Switch owners have downloaded Fortnite
- 70% of players have spent money on Fortnite, spending $85 in total – for over a third of these, these represented first in-app purchases
- Celebrity player Ninja makes $500,000/month through streaming
- Ninja and Drake playing together garnered 635,000 concurrent views on Twitch
- In May 2018, 8.9 billion minutes of Fortnite were viewed on Twitch
- Viewership hours for pro-am tournament at E3 total 6.1 million, peak concurrent viewership stood at 2.2 million
- Epic Games offering $100 million prize pot for 2018/19 season
- Highest earning pro Fortnite player Tfue has made $465,000 to date
- Fortnite brought in $1.2 billion revenue as of June 2018, including $318 million in May 2018
- Epic Games valued at $15 billion in October 2018, up from $8 billion in July 2018
Fortnite User Statistics
Epic Games reported that there were 78.3 million active Fortnite players in August 2018 – marking the highest monthly usage figure in the history of the game. The record number of concurrent Fortnite players stands at 8.3 million, which came in the wake of the game’s launch in South Korea.
The total number of Fortnite players stood at 125 million two months earlier. This represents a nearly threefold increase since January 2018 – and it hasn’t even launched in China…
Total Fortnite players worldwide, August 2017-June 2018
Those with even a passing acquaintance with the world of gaming will perhaps not be surprised to see the demographic breakdown of Fortnite players, which skews heavily male and is concentrated in those aged 18-24. The Verto Analytics figures below do not take into account players under the age of 18, who are likely to account for no small proportion of players.
Fortnite players age and gender – Verto
Source: Verto Analytics
A similar investigation carried out using SimilarWeb data on desktop Fortnite users found relatively similar results, albeit a little less skewed toward the youngest age bracket, and an even more unbalanced picture regarding gender.
Fortnite players age and gender – SimilarWeb
Source: New World Notes
Anecdotally at least, some suggest that mobile versions of Fortnite have gone some way to redressing gender imbalance.
A survey conducted by Newzoo took players under 18 into account, finding that 53% of Fortnite gamers were aged 10-25 – a slightly higher proportion than those who played rival title Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The same study found that Fortnite players were less likely to classify themselves as ‘core gamers’.
Fortnite vs. PUBG players preferences
The Fortnite community
Casual gaming aside, Fortnite is a serious business. New items can cause controversy if they don’t gain the approval of the community and those who play in an un-sportsperson-like manner can be the subject of online opprobrium – even if they break in-game records in the process.
The official Fortnite page on Facebook has 3.6 million likes, with a spate of non-official pages with likes numbering five or even six figures.
Epic Games also hosts an official forum, on which hundreds of thousands of Fortnite-related posts can be found.
This is, of course, only scratching the surface – there are countless non-official groups, pages, blogs, channels, and more out there, all related to Fortnite. Fortnite is a genuine worldwide phenomenon.
Fortnite and celebrities
Footballer Antoine Griezmann performed a Fortnite dance move to celebrate scoring in the World Cup 2018 final – estimated viewing figures: 900 million. Evidence of Fortnite fandom on one of the world’s biggest stages is no freak accident – the game boasts no small number of celebrity fans (including Griezmann’s France teammate Adil Rami, who claimed to be playing Fortnite naked during the World Cup, when some boisterous teammates burst in, threatening to upturn his furniture. Rami defended himself with a fire extinguisher…leading to an evacuation of the hotel).
Canadian singer Drake is perhaps the best-known name among them. He’s joined by fellow artists Travis Scott and Chance the Rapper. Sports stars are also well represented. Aside from the two aforementioned football (soccer) world champions, sporting Fortnite fans include LA Lakers’ Josh Hart, (basketball), Pittsburgh Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster (American football), and various members of the Milwaukee Brewers team (baseball), who have played games on their home stadium’s jumbotron…
Fortnite is something of a contentious name in the world of sports, however – read more about that in the Fortnite addiction section below…
Perhaps a more surprising inclusion on the list is disgraced comic and sitcom star Roseanne Barr, though it certainly stands as further evidence of the wide range of the game’s appeal.
Pro Fortnite players
Fortnite has also created its own celebrities, the most prominent of whom is Ninja.
Ninja’s appeal is such that he has played with Drake (shattering non-tournament viewership records, with over 635,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch) and England international footballer (soccer player) Dele Alli. He was the first e-gamer to feature on the cover of ESPN magazine, and claims to earn a tidy $500,000 per month.
Ninja is not the only well-known player, however, with the question of the world’s best players being considered a suitable topic for journalistic consideration. Indeed, Tyler Blevin, to give him his real name, is famous for his streaming rather than his gaming, and is not counted among the ranks of professional Fortnite players.
Fortnite has quickly come to be one of the most lucrative platforms in the world of e-sports, with Epic Games stating they would be offering no less than $100 million in prize money over the 2018/19 season. $18 million of this has already been distributed over the Summer Skirmish and Fall Skirmish seasons. Despite its newness in the e-sports world, professional Fortnite players are already some of the highest earning sports stars in the e-sports world.
Highest earning professional Fortnite players
Data source: Dexerto
Many top players belong to various teams, some of the best known being FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, and Ghost Gaming – all of whom have claimed over $1,000,000 in earnings. Many of these teams are occupied on several different gaming fronts. They’re serious operations, with trademarked names, team jerseys complete with sponsors’ logos (with replicas for sale), and fully-fledged press teams.
The youngest professional player is a mere 13 years old (as of April 2018). Kyle Jackson of the UK – otherwise known as Mongraal – belongs to Team Secret.
Fortnite Usage Statistics
Time spent playing Fortnite
A survey of 1,000 Fortnite players found that the median time spent playing the game weekly stood at 6-10 hours. Close to a third spent a maximum of 5 hours playing, while 8% spent put in a rather-alarming 21 hours or more of Fortnite playing time per week. From May to June, the total hours spent playing Fortnite total 2.7 billion hours – or 300,000 years (plus a few thousand more).
Time spent playing Fortnite
The same survey also asked players if they’d ever missed time at school or work to play Fortnite. Teachers will be disappointed to learn that 15% admitted they skipped a lot of school to play Fortnite, while 21% had skipped a little. Employers might also be displeased to know that 6% of workers had skipped a lot of work to play Fortnite, while 16% had skipped a little.
Time is not the only way in which we can measure the huge scale of Fortnite usage. The launch of the game’s highly-anticipated fifth season saw traffic reach 37 Tbps (terabytes per second). To get a sense of what that means, the 2016 US presidential election peaked at 7.5 Tbps.
Part of Fortnite’s rise to dominance has no doubt been its cross-platform availability, with casual mobile gamers on the move able to participate with hardcore bedroom gamers on equal footing (Sony was hesitant, but cross-play functionality has recently been enabled for PS4 players).
It was when it launched on mobile, however, that it really took off. Apptopia estimated that Fornite surpassed 100 million downloads within five months of launching on iOS in April 2018 – the first mobile platform on which it was made available.
Days to achieve 100 iOS downloads
Fortnite’s Android release circumvented the Google Play Store, with the beta version only available on an invite-basis. This did not stop it being downloaded 15-million times, with 23 million players within 21 days of its release in mid-August. It was released fully in October 2018, though it is still not available through the Google Play Store, with Epic CEO Tim Sweeney claiming the company wants to build a direct relationship with its customers. It’s also a way to avoid Google taking a 30% cut of revenue.
Fortnite has also proved popular with the 22 million users of the Nintendo Switch, around 50% of whom have downloaded the game since its launch in June 2018. It is the most popular item in the Switch eShop.
Fortnite’s popularity on mobile reflects a wider trend toward mobile over traditional console gaming. A survey carried out by Morning Consult found that 45% of gamers were playing more on mobile than they were three years ago, compared with 28% of those who were playing more on a gaming console.
The survey also breaks down gamers by which platform they prefer. While 60% of those who preferred mobile gaming were now playing more on their preferred platform, nearly half of those who preferred console gaming were playing more on a mobile than they were three years previously.
Gamers playing more on console or mobile
Source: Morning Consult
While in-game purchases are mostly-limited to non-essential cosmetic items, that hasn’t stopped people spending (though 20% were not aware that they were not getting an advantage). Indeed, a survey carried out by LendEDU found that close to 70% of Fortnite players invested in V-Bucks, spending a not-insignificant average of $85.
For just over a third of these, this was the first game on which they had ever made in-app purchases.
Fortnite spending breakdown
Fortnite as an e-sport
Interestingly, the survey also found that a quarter invested in Twitch, an e-sports platform which allows people to watch others playing games.
Twitch is not the only channel through which Fortnite spectators can get their fix; celebrity player Ninja’s Fortnite-centred YouTube channel boasts nearly 20 million subscribers at the time of writing. One tournament organised by Spanish YouTuber elrubiusOMG was viewed by 42 million people, with 1.1 million tuning concurrently at one point.
It’s not just about the celebs, though. Research conducted by Newzoo found that players of battle royale-type games (looking at Fortnite and rival title PUBG) were more likely to livestream or record and upload themselves playing games as compared to other online multiplayer games.
In May 2018, Twitch viewers watched nearly 600 million hours of battle royale content, a stunning 83% of which came from Fortnite – confirming its status as a spectator e-sport.
May represents the second-highest recorded figures in this respect. The peak came in July, when 8.9 billion minutes were collectively spent watching Fortnite players over Twitch. August marked a sharp decline on this at 7.7 billion, though this is around the same as was recorded in June.
Using average concurrent viewership as our measure gives similar results. Average concurrent daily viewership stood at 305,000 in July 2018, but declined to below 90,000 in September 2018, before effecting a slight recovery to 145,000 in late October.
Thinknum, who compiled the stats, have stated that we need to account for the fall season of new game releases, that begins in September.
Fortnite daily viewership figures on Twitch
While there’s plenty of casual viewership of Fortnite going on, its status as an e-sport hinges on big-money tournaments. As mentioned above, Epic Games announced it has a Fortnite prize money pool of $100 million to award during the 2018/19 season, over a huge range of tournaments
The first $8 million of this was awarded over the eight-week Summer Skirmish tournament (2018), culminating in a grand final, taking place in Seattle over four days (participants included pros, personalities, and top performers invited by Epic).
The Fall Skirmish followed, with a total of $10 million up for grabs to the 500 participants over six weeks. The Winter Skirmish will offer a smaller prize pool of $1 million, but will be open to all players, not just those invited by Epic.
According to ESC, fans watched 16.8 million hours of the Fortnite Fall Skirmish over Twitch, YouTube and vk. Average concurrent viewership was just a touch under 250,000, while total views numbered over 100 million.
The highest viewership figures on Twitch recorded for Fortnite were generated by the celebrity pro-am tournament that took place at the E3 games festival in June 2018. At its peak, 700,000 people watched simultaneously. If you add additional streams such as that of the ever-present Ninja, the figure stands at 1.5 million viewers. They watched a total of 1.9 million hours during the four hours of the event.
Including other channels, total viewership hours increases to 6.1 million, and the average concurrent viewership stands at 1.3 million, with a peak of 2.2 million.
The first Fortnite World Cup is set to run in 2019, and will also be open to non-pro players, though there will be a qualification process to ensure that only very best are able to compete. Gameplay will centre on solo and double play.
Research has shown that Fortnite can be highly addictive. Indeed, it has even been claimed that Fortnite is as addictive as heroin, with one often-repeated story telling of a boy who continued playing the game in the shadow of an approaching tornado.
Concerns are particularly pronounced where young minds are involved. Another story tells of a young girl who wet herself rather than stop playing.
As with anything that proves to be addictive, Fortnite has caused some problems for its users and those around them. The game has reportedly been brought up in 200 UK divorce cases.
This isn’t the only hot water in which people have got as a result of Fortnite. Epic Games has brought several lawsuits against people found to be cheating in the game by making and using software to give them an illegal advantage. At least one of the defendants is a minor.
Boston Red Sox (baseball) pitcher David Price also had to pull out of a game with rivals the New York Yankees due to carpal tunnel syndrome that was reportedly caused by his Fortnite playing. He denied the injury came from his gaming (the extent to which his gaming was responsible is a matter for debate in the medical community), but the incident certainly caused some hand wringing in the world of professional sports. Accordingly, outfits such as the NHL’s Canucks have banned the game.
Fortnite Revenue Statistics
Recode reported that, as of June 2018, Fortnite had brought in $1.2 billion of revenue.
May was the most successful month for which we have stats available, with Fortnite: Battle Royale bringing in $318 million (concrete post-May statistics are difficult to find). This makes it the best-performing game of its kind by this metric.
Best monthly revenue for free-to-play games
Fortnite has been a very healthy source of revenue for Epic from the off.
After launching on iOS, Fortnite was quickly generating $1 million in revenue every day. Indeed, after launching on April 1st, it was generating more revenue than Tinder, and nearly as much as Netflix by halfway through the same month.
Fortnite iOS revenue, first two weeks
It would go on to hit $100 million within 90 days (notably 335% more than Knives Out in second place), then $200 million two months later. Close to two-thirds of this revenue was being generated by players in the US ($126 million) – 12 times as much as the second-biggest market of the UK. By the end of October, Fortnite surpassed $350 million on iOS alone.
With the full launch of the Android version of the game only coming in October 2018, it remains to be seen just how much it’ll be worth to Epic Games. With the 30% cut due to Google cut out of the equation due to the circumvention on the Google Play Store, it’s likely to be worth a fair whack…
Epic Games investments
Epic announced that it had raised $1.25 billion in funding in late October, with the seven investment firms joining the likes of Disney and Tencent as minority shareholders (though Tencent’s stake is 40%, purchased with $330 million in 2013). Fortnite’s runaway success is no doubt behind the developer’s appeal to investors.
Epic Games valuation
Mobile gaming revenue
Mobile gaming is a lucrative business, it seems. Nearly two-thirds of iOS revenue generated by in-app purchases came from games in 2017 – vastly eclipsing every other category.
Revenue generated by in-app purchases by type of app (iOS)
Source: Morning Consult
Interesting, the lion’s share of this revenue seems to come from a tiny percentage of gamers, while over half don’t pay anything.
Despite the narrowness of this segment of high-revenue generating gamers at present, it is predicted that mobile games will account for a greater and greater percentage of total video games revenue in years to come.
Percentage of videogames revenue generated by mobile games Source: Morning Consult
Console gaming revenue
Despite driving growth in mobile gaming, it is also noted that Fortnite is going someway to bolstering console gaming revenue, with some estimates suggesting that console gaming revenue might have declined by 6% if not for Fortnite. Microtransactions as whole increased by 49% thanks to the influence of Fortnite.
A 39% increase in Xbox revenue is thought to have been driven by Fortnite.
It’s quite conceivable that if you were a mature adult with no children in your care, that one of the biggest cultural phenomena of 2018 could have completely passed you by. But one of the very biggest worldwide cultural phenomena of this century Fortnite certainly is.
Led by trendsetters and celebrities, the mobile phones, computers, and television screens of millions of children and young adults around the world are lighting up with the fast paced, cartoonish shooting action of Fortnite. Indeed, even if you haven’t heard of it, Fortnite’s cultural impact is such that even members of the famously out-of-touch British royal family have (and are wringing their hands over its malign influence – a sure sign of cultural significance).
It’s difficult to identify what it is exactly that has led to the game’s huge success. Fortnite was many years in development, but the battle royale format much loved the world over was developed quickly almost as afterthought. Certainly, the lucky or secret combination of factors that have led to the game’s success is something other game or app developers (or any cultural makers for that matter) will be studying closely for years to come.
While it has brought nothing new exactly to the world, certainly it has helped to entrench gaming as a spectator sport, the ability of microtransactions to drive revenue (even if they’re essentially meaningless), and the battle royale format of game – or whatever else might give the same sort of instant, mass human connection.
Going even more down the path of essential non-innovation, a physical release bundle released to coincide with the 2018 holiday season marks Epic’s faith in its flagship product to perform on different fronts. And while regulatory constraints have stalled the Chinese release of the game by Tencent, when it does take place, there is no telling just how much bigger the juggernaut that is Fortnite could yet be.