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. A free-to-play version was anticipated in 2019, but Epic have since announced it will remain a ‘premium experience’. 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 and Endgame (the latter was actually a two-way crossover).
Chapter 2 of Fortnite: Battle Royale was rolled out in October 2019, with a new map to explore and a raft of new features. Naturally, records were broken…
The game was controversially pulled from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store in August 2020, due to an ongoing dispute between Epic Games and Apple over revenue. The Fortnite developer claims that the 30% cut of in-app sales taken by Apple (and Google) was unfair. The game was ultimately pulled for allowing players discounts on purchases made outside of the app.
Fortnite had only been made available on the Play Store in April 2020, having only been available as direct download before than (still an option open to most of the world).
The game’s future as a mobile app then, is in doubt – leaving a $1.2 billion gap in the market, according to Sensor Tower. In October 2020, a US judge ruled Apple’s move was lawful and any lost revenue was Epic’s own fault. A subscription model is reportedly being touted, judging by surveys sent out to users. Third-party Google Play downloads continue.
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
|Launched||July 2017 (Fortnite: Save the World), September 2017 (Fortnite: Battle Royale)|
|Parent company||Epic Games|
|HQ||Cary, North Carolina|
|Key people||Tim Sweeney (Epic founder, CEO)|
Key Fortnite User Statistics
|Fortnite users, millions|
Source: Epic Games
|Fortnite monthly downloads, millions|
*Figures are iOS only until April 2020, when Fortnite was launched on the Google Play Store; prior Android downloads were on third-party basis. As estimated 4.2 million Google Play Fortnite downloads took place mid-April to mid-May 2020
Source: Sensor Tower
|Fortnite lifetime downloads by country, May 2020, millions|
|Rest of world||64.3|
*iOS only until April 2020, plus Google Play Store from April 2020; third-party Android downloads not included
Source: Sensor Tower
|Fortnite user demographics|
Source: Verto Analytics
|Top tournament earners on Fortnite, USD millions|
Source: Esports Earnings
Key Fortnite Usage Statistics
|Weekly hours spent playing Fortnite, percentage of users|
|21 hours +||8%||5%|
|Fortnite 2020 events cumulative Twitch/YouTube viewing hours|
|Fortnite hours watched on streaming platforms*, millions|
*Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer (until Q3 2020)
Source: Stream Hatchet
|Fortnite hours viewed by platform, 2019, millions|
Source: Stream Hatchet
|Fortnite hours viewed on Twitch, millions|
*the drop off in hours after Q3 2019 would suggest a change in methodology
**as above; the smaller 2018 figure was reported in 2019
Source: Stream Elements
|Fortnite Twitch Statistics|
|Viewers, thousands||Channels, thousands||Hours watched, millions|
|November 2020 (to 12/11)||118.6||8.4||31.3|
Source: Twitch Tracker
Key Fortnite Financial Statistics
|Monthly spending on Fortnite, USD millions*|
|August 2020 (until 13th)||15.5|
*iOS only until mid-April 2020, plus Google Play thereafter; third-party Android revenue not included. Estimated $0.94 billion Google Play revenue generated April-May 2020.
**From May, monthly spending totals are based on daily averages based on YTD figure of $293 million published 13 August.
Source: Sensor Tower
|Fortnite lifetime revenue, USD millions*|
*see first note directly above.
Source: Sensor Tower
|Fortnite lifetime revenue by country, USD millions|
|Rest of world||42.4||105||180||293.4|
Source: Sensor Tower
|Fortnite annual revenue, all platforms, USD billions|
|Epic Game revenue and profit/EBITDA, USD billions|
|Epic Games valuation, USD billions|
|Epic Games funding rounds|
|Series type||Date||Amount||Led by|
|Corporate round||June 2012||$330 million||Tencent|
|Venture round||October 2018||$1.3 billion||Vulcan, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts|
|Corporate round||July 2020||$250 million||Sony|
|Venture round||August 2020||$1.5 billion||Nine including T Rowe. Price, Lightspeed, BlackRock|
Other Key Fortnite Statistics
- 116 million Fortnite users on iOS prior the game’s removal, of which 73 million played Fortnite exclusively on iOS (Forbes)
- Of 25 million Fortnite DAUs, 2.5 million played on iOS (Forbes)
- 78.3 million Fortnite players in August 2018 – the single-month record (Epic)
- Record for concurrent players stands at 12.3 million, recorded April 2020 during a Travis Scott concert crossover event; previous record of 10.7 million set during similar Marshmello crossover event in February 2019 (Variety)
- Fortnite reached 100 million iOS downloads within five months (Apptopia)
- Launch of Fortnite Chapter 2 saw content delivery network Akamai’s traffic peaking at 106 Tbps – over twice the usual daily figure (ZDNet)
- Newzoo find that 53% of Fortnite players were aged 10-25 (NewZoo)
- 45.75% of (adult) desktop Fortnite players are aged 18-24 according to one analysis (SimilarWeb via New World Notes)
- 83.7% of these same desktop Fortnite players are male (New World Notes)
- There were no female players at the Fortnite World Cup finals in July 2019 (Guardian)
- 36% of Fortnite players consider themselves to be ‘core gamers’ (Newzoo)
- 53% of US Fortnite players don’t play any other major battle royale titles (Newzoo)
- Median weekly time spent playing Fortnite stands at 6-10 hours (LendEDU)
- Record number of concurrent Fortnite viewers was logged in June 2020, coinciding with in-game event (The Device), at 20.4 million; 12 million in client, 8.4 million Twitch and YouTube (ESPN)
- Ninja counts 24.1 million YouTube subscribers, alongside 16.1 million Twitch followers (YouTube/Twitch)
- Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins and Drake’s team-up drew 635,000 concurrent viewers (Polygon)
- Ninja reportedly earns $500,000/month from streaming Fortnite over YouTube and Twitch (TubeFilter)
- $30 million in total handed out during the Fortnite World Cup, drawn from $100 million prize pot for 2019 (Forbes)
- Players played 3.2 billion hours of Fortnite in April 2020 (Epic Games)
- Fortnite has been played for a cumulative total of 3.8 billion days or 10.4 million years (Game)
- Fortnite World Cup concurrent viewership peaked at 2.3 million (YouTube and Twitch), with 14.1 million hours watched collectively during the final (PC Gamer)
- Over the course of the whole Fortnite World Cup, 81.8 million hours of content were streamed (NewZoo)
- 70% of Fortnite players have made in-game purchases, spending $85 each on average (LendEDU)
- Average Fortnite player was spending $102.42 on Fortnite in March 2020, compared to $84.67 in June 2018 (LendEDU)
- Average Fortnite mobile revenue per download at $7.70 in May 2020 (Sensor Tower)
- Total Fortnite revenue reported at $400 million in April 2020 (VentureBeat)
Fortnite User Statistics
In May 2020, the official Fortnite Twitter account tweeted that the game had reached 350 million players.
The last announcement came in March 2019, when Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney announced that the total number of Fortnite players had reached 250 million. This was up 25% on November 2018’s 200 million Fornite users, and double the official figure of 125 million in June 2018; this itself represented a nearly threefold increase since January 2018.
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 long stood at 8.3 million, which came in the wake of the game’s launch in South Korea.
This record has since been shattered in 2020, as Fortnite has gradually morphed into an ecosystem. Among other things, it has began to play host to in-game concerts by some of the world’s biggest musical artists. These include Marshmello, who attracted 10.7 million concurrent players/concert goers in February 2019, and record holder Travis Scott, whose April 2020 concert took the record to 12.3 million. The record for a real-life concert, it is worth noting, stands at 4.2 million (Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach in 1994 if you’re wondering).
Fortnite has reached these numbers without even being able to launch in China, where a clampdown on new games has prevented its entering the market.
Total Fortnite players worldwide, August 2017 – May 2020, millions
Data source: Epic Games
Documents related to the court case with Apple reveal that 116 million users played Fortnite on iOS, 73 million of whom did so exclusively. 2.5 million Fortnite DAUs played on iOS – accounting for 10% of a total of 25 million across platforms.
Fortnite iOS downloads numbered in the range of 1.8 to 3 million across 2019 and 2020, pre-App Store ban. In the below stats, Google Play downloads are included from April 2020, when it was first introduced to the Play Store. Third-party Android downloads are not included.
Fortnite monthly downloads, April 2019 – April 2020, millions
Data source: Sensor Tower
Sensor Tower estimates Fortnite was downloaded 129 million times on iOS as of May 2020, with Google Play stats included as of mid-April. The US accounted for 51 million of these (40%). The UK with 8 million downloads (6%), and France with 5.7 million (4%) also account for a notable share.
Once again these do not include direct Android downloads from Epic, which are likely to exceed this total, given the global prevalence of Google devices.
Fortnite lifetime downloads by country, as of May 2020, millions
Data source: Sensor Tower
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. On the other hand, it was reported that not one of the 100 players taking part in the Fortnite World Cup in New York in July 2019 was a woman.
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
A May 2019 Newzoo found that 41% of US gamers play one the biggest three battle royale games (Fornite, PUBG, and Apex Legends), with a further 15% representing churned battle royale gamers who intend to play such a title again. 71% of these are primarily console gamers, 17% PC games, and the remaining 12% mobile gamers.
These battle royale games tend to be loyal to one title, with 59% only playing one of the three.
Of these, Fortnite claimed by far the largest share at this point, with 42% of gamers playing it alone, and a further 37% playing it in combination with another title.
To put it another way, 53% of Fortnite players only played the game. This compares to 24% of Apex Legends and 18% of PUBG gamers.
US battle royale gamers: Loyalties
Those who prefer one game over another display certain characteristics, some of which feed into their choice.
Fortnite gamers overwhelmingly prefer console gaming, while we see more of a mix for the other titles. They also enjoy the social interaction afforded by playing the game, while PUBG players enjoy team play, and Apex Legends players prefer the game’s pacing.
We also various brand affinities arising in each constituency.
US battle royale gamers: Reasons for choosing games
One change is coming in the demographics of the opponents against whom players will be lined up, according to an Epic Games blog post: they may not all be human. Epic announced in September 2019 that it would be adding bots to mix the following season.
This is part of a wider drive to match players with others of a similar skill level, to ensure that newbies don’t get completely decimated by older hands. The bots will be targeted at those at lower levels of skills.
Back in early 2018, a Newzoo analysis that weighed up Fortnite against PUBG among core PC gamers found a few regional trends.
PUBG, it seems, dominates in east Asian markets. Particularly (and unsurprisingly) in China, where Fortnite has yet to secure a release. Fortnite seems to hold the edge in Europe, with Nordic countries prominent – though, interestingly, Iceland features in the top-five countries for PUBG penetration among this demographic.
Average Fortnite penetration stood at 16.3% at this point, compared to 14.6% for PUBG.
Top markets for Fortnite penetration: core PC gamers
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 latest game play addition that scandalised the fanbase was the addition of powerful mech-like battle suits in August 2019, which were deemed to be disproportionately powerful. Previously, Epic withdrew a weapon known as the ‘Infinity Blade’ in response to fan backlash – even issuing a public apology in the process.
In April 2020, it was reported that the hashtag #RIPFortnite was trending – albeit with no specific complaint in mind. Rather it was a catchall for minor gripes (skills-based matching, poor communication from developers, and server issues among them).
The official Fortnite page on Facebook has 5.1 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.
Celebrity Fortnite players
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 the then 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 from Twitch subscribers. Ninja’s total 2018 earnings stood at $10 million.
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 Blevins, to give him his real name, is famous for his streaming rather than his e-sport competitiveness. He does, however, hold the world record for consecutive duo wins alongside Malachi Greiner (Reverse2k to his fans).
Fortnite has quickly come to be one of the most lucrative platforms in the world of e-sports. It ranks third overall in terms of prize money handed out, a total of $84.4 million (as found verifiable by EsportsEarnings – Epic Games’ total prize pools would presumably take this total higher) as of November 2019. This compares to $85.6 million for Counter Strike: Global Offensive but cannot hope to compare to Dota 2‘s $218.1 million.
Epic Games stated they would be offering no less than $100 million in prize money over 2018/19 season. $18 million of this was distributed over the Summer Skirmish and Fall Skirmish seasons, and $30 million in the Fortnite World Cup. 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.
The highest earner from Fortnite tournament play is American player Bugha, who tops the list courtesy of his huge win at the Fornite World Cup in July 2019, which bagged him a tidy $3 million.
Indeed, the huge amount of prize money at said tournament mean that we see a host of other high performers from the Fortnite World Cup featuring in the top-10. These include the now-retired (from Fortnie Psalm and Epikwhale, and duo winners Aqua and Nyhrox.
Highest earning professional Fortnite players, USD millions
Data source: Esports Earnings
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.
They even have their ‘doping’ scandals. Take the lifetime ban handed out to FaZe Jarvis when it transpired he was using an aimbot to cheat in November 2019. This caused waves in community, given two other players – Xxif and Ronaldo – were caught cheating in the run up to the Fortnite World Cup, but incurred little more than two-week bans. They would go on to compete in the tournament.
Things seem to be going well for the young teenager, as of 2019 – with prizes of nearly $100,000 rolling in.
Fortnite Usage Statistics
Time spent playing Fortnite
Epic reported that users played a collective 3.2 billion hours of Fortnite in April 2020.
A survey of 1,000 Fortnite players found that the median time spent playing the game weekly stood at 6-10 hours.
Over a third spent a maximum of 5 hours playing, the most commonly elected option, while 5% spent put in a rather-alarming 21 hours or more of Fortnite playing time per week.
Comparing these numbers to Fortnite stats gathered two years before, we can see a downward shift in terms of hours played. This may be down to increased competition in the space.
Weekly time spent playing Fortnite
From May to June 2018, total hours spent playing Fortnite came to 2.7 billion hours – or 300,000 years (plus a few thousand more). Or if you want an even bigger stat, we can look to UK retailer Game, which estimated that as of September 2020, we’d spent a cumulative (and terrifying) 10.4 million years playing Fortnite.
Wasted on Fortnite is dedicated to how much time people spend – or waste – playing Fortnite. The ‘leader’, as of November 2019 was PS4 player wsiim, who has somehow contrived to have spent 448 days (!) playing the game. Around 2.4 million players have used the site, logging an average of 432 hours, or around 18 days…
Clearly the game is addictive (sometimes problematically). The LendEDU 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.
UK ISP BT reported a 40% spike in internet traffic over normal levels with the release of Fortnite Season 10. Back in May 2018, Verizon reported a 60% spike over normal peak data usage levels in the US, coinciding with launch of Season 4.
All of this pails in comparison with the biggest release of them all: Chapter 2. The new map, with its concomitant new gameplay features saw records comprehensively broken for Akamai, one of the content delivery networks commissioned by Epic Games to roll out the update.
With this October 2019 release, traffic on the Akamai network peaked at a monumental 106 Tbps – the first time it had crossed the 100 Tbps mark. Around half of this was thought to be attributable to the Fortnite roll out, with the normal daily peak at around 50 Tbps.
This was reportedly the third time a Fortnite update coincided with record traffic for Akamai. July 2018’s 60 Tbps (the aforementioned Season 5) and December 2018’s 75 Tbps were the previous examples…
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 Nintendo Switch owners. In late 2018, it was reported that 50% of Switch owners had downloaded the game since its launch in June 2018. Accordingly, it sat at the top of the Switch download charts for some time.
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.
All this being said, a May 2019 survey of US gamers found that 78% of Fortnite users were console gamers first and foremost.
Gamers playing more on console or mobile
Source: Morning Consult
Fornite players from all platforms previously were all grouped together – but as of March 2019, PC, Xbox and Playstation gamers were separated out from mobile and Switch players in the interests of balance, with cross-platform play is still possible though partying-up.
The introduction of bots and skills-matching will see cross-platform Fornite play re-introduced, with player level the filter rather than the platform used. Player concerns were raised regarding this, with console and PC gamers considered to have a considerable advantage over those using less sophisticated devices.
While in-game purchases are mostly-limited to non-essential cosmetic items, that hasn’t stopped people spending (though 35% were not aware that they were not getting an advantage – up from 20″ in 2018). Indeed, a survey carried out by LendEDU found that close to 77% of Fortnite players invested in V-Bucks (up from 70% in 2018), spending a not-insignificant average of $102.42 – up from $85 in 2018.
For just over a third of these, this was the first game on which they had ever made in-app purchases. The remainder of Fortnite spenders had spent on other games.
The below spending breakdown refers to the 2018 survey.
Fortnite spending breakdown, USD
According to Edison Trends, the vast majority of spending on Fortnite goes on V-Bucks to be spent as players please, with packs accounting for 13% and bundles for 3%. Various combinations of rare costumes, accessories, and V-Bucks are available, though in this context it’s hard to discern the difference between packs and bundles.
Those bundles can go for big money – for what outsiders might well deem to be pointless…
Fortnite spending breakdown: bundles, packs, and V-Bucks
Source: Edison Trends
Around half of those who made purchases in June 2019 also made them in July 2019. In the free-to-play market, it is generally accepted that the vast majority of revenue will be generated by a small cohort of enthusiastic spenders.
These spenders are known as ‘whales’. It is thought, however, that their importance is beginning to decline as this form of spending becomes more mainstream.
Fortnite on Twitch and YouTube
Interestingly, the survey also found that a quarter invested in Twitch, an e-sports platform which allows people to watch others playing games.
A fair amount of Fortnite users (21%) would rather pay to watch someone play the shooter than watch a sporting event for free. This rises us to 31% if it becomes a pay-for-view sporting event. In all, 21% claimed to be bigger fans of e-sports than traditional sport leagues.
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.
How many battle royale players record and stream content?
Across Q3 2020, Fortnite gaming was watched for a collective 426.2 million hours across Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming. This did not quite rise to same levels as we saw in Q2, during which 560 hours were consumed – undoubtedly connected to the coronavirus lockdowns being enforced around the world at this time.
Fortnite gameplay hours watched by streamers by quarter, Q1 2019 – Q3 2020, millions
Source: Stream Hatchet
Across 2019, Fortnite was viewed for 1,101.1 million hours on Twitch, 371 million hours on YouTube, and 66.3 million hours on Mixer. It was the most-viewed game on all three platforms over the course of 2019.
Fortnite hours viewed by platform, 2019, millions
Source: Stream Hatchet
According to NewZoo, in October 2020, Fortnite was the third-most viewed game on Twitch, being viewed for 85.5 million hours overall. 98.7% of these views were for amateur players (though this will include high profile streamers like Ninja), with e-sports accounting for a relatively slim 1.1 million hours. Nonetheless, it is eighth most-viewed game in the e-sport category.
League of Legends is (sorry) leagues in front, with 171.5 million hours overall hours, followed by sleeper hit Among Us on 109.5 million hours. The latter’s popularity derives largely from its choice as the leading e-sports category (claiming 58.4 million hours).
The peak for Fortnite Twitch viewership was reported in July 2018, when 8.9 billion minutes (148 million hours) were collectively spent watching Fortnite players over Twitch. August marked a sharp decline on this at 7.7 billion minutes (128 billion hours), though this is around the same as was recorded in June.
May 2018 saw the second-highest recorded total viewing time for Fortnite, at 8.4 billion minutes (140 million hours), according to the same Fortnite stats, published in MarketWatch.
TwitchTracker identifies peak 2020 activity occurring on 15 June 2020, on which day 2.28 million viewers tuned into 117,582 channels to watch 5.91 million hours of content.
Prior to this, we had seen higher peaks in the final metric. The record at the time of writing was registered on October 13 2019, when viewers watched 7.67 million hours between them.
If we look at these stats by month, the peak occurs in July 2018, during which 151 million hours of Fortnite content was watched on Twitch.
After this peak we can observe a general downward trend, disrupted by 2020’s lockdown. During this, we saw a peak of 122 million hours viewed in May.
This was the highest level logged since January 2019. We might note that the equivalent figure for January 2020 stood at 53.8 million.
Fortnite hours viewed on Twitch, 2017 – 2020, millions
Source: Twitch Tracker
Switching the measure to the number of viewers and broadcasters, October 2020 saw 115,000 average concurrent viewers on Twitch.
These viewers could watch content being broadcasted nearly 8,000 channels.
We see the same trends as with hours viewed; a general decline masked by pandemic conditions. May 2020 actually saw the all-time record for average broadcasters, at 13,800 – edging out January 2019’s 13,700. The earlier broadcasters had access to a larger average audience: 170,ooo to May 2020’s 165,000.
The peak month for average concurrent viewers was July 2018, during which an average of 203,000 viewers could be found watching Fortnite on Twitch.
Average concurrent Fornite viewers and channels on Twitch by month, 2017 – 2020, thousands
Data source: TwitchTracker
One final source for Fortnite viewership on Twitch (Stream Elements) gives us a total of 86 million hours in August, following on from 91 million hours in July and 95 million in June 2020. We can see here how the lockdown, enacted in April around much of the world, drove viewers to Twitch. The equivalent figure for January was as low as 41 million hours.
The total over 2019 stood at 885 million according to this source.
Fortnite hours viewed on Twitch by month, 2020, millions
Source: Stream Elements
During the lockdown months we saw a record number of Twitch viewers tune into Fortnite, 2.3 million tuning in for an event titled ‘The Device’, with. The total rose to over 20 million across platforms, 12 million in-client, and a further 8.4 million on Twitch and YouTube.
The record number of concurrent Twitch Fortnite viewers has previously stood at 1.7 million. And what had they tuned in to watch? Why the captivating sight of a black hole, which marked the end of the Season 10 and with it Chapter 1.
As far as marketing stunts that prevent anyone from playing your game for two days go, you can call that a resounding success. Across platforms, total concurrent views of Twitch streaming peaked at a stately 7 million for the Black Hole event. YouTube contributed the bulk of these, with 4.3 million.
Even the Fortnite World Cup solo final (more below) couldn’t pull in those figures, though a concurrent 2.3 million isn’t too shabby. And that’s just Twitch and YouTube. Other fans tuned in via social media, or streamed the tournament in-game.
Newzoo peg peak total viewership at 14.1 million hours during the finals, on the official YouTube and Twitch Fortnite channels. Viewership remained at healthy level in the weeks leading up to the final, with the high reported in the fourth week, at 6.64 million. Levels fluctuated but never fell below 4 million.
Fortnite World Cup viewership hours, Twitch and YouTube
Of the two, the official Fortnite YouTube channel was the most-watched during the tournament proper, logging 5.6 million hours of live content during the finals, compared to 4.5 million on Twitch.
In the qualifying rounds, however, Twitch accounted for two thirds of viewership, with the number of hours watched per week averaging 700,000 across both platforms.
The action didn’t just take place on the official channels. Over the first two qualifying rounds, for example, Ninja’s live channel was watched for 3 million hours – compared to 1.8 million for the official Fortnite channels. Tfue snagged the qualifying record, however, logging 2.3 million hours in one qualifying event.
Newzoo also report that smaller streamers contributed, with their content watched for 9.5 million hours during qualifying rounds, and 2.6 million during the finals. In all, 81.8 million hours were streamed, with the main channels and bigger streamers accounting for 85% of this viewership.
As we might expect, we saw a significant bump for solo-tournament winner Bugha, and duo winners Aqua and Nhyrox. Bugha logged a mere 8,000 hours between 3 and 9 July. By 29 July-4 August, this had increased 27.5-fold to 220,000.
Live viewership hours for Fortnite World Cup winners
As well as breaking concurrent player records, Travis Scott’s April 2020 Fortnite concert was viewed on Twitch for a collective 8.1 million hours. May 2020 concerts from Diplo (6 million hours), and Steve Aoki (7.7 million) hours also attracted considerable viewership.
The concerts, however, do not compete with in-game events, such as June 2020’s Doomsday event, which was watched for a collective 11.8 million hours.
Total YouTube/Twitch viewership hours during 2020 Fortnite concerts
Outside of tournaments, concerts, and publicity stunts, 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, who watched a total of 1.9 million hours during the four hours of the event.
If we include 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.
Back in October 2019, Fortnite was the most-viewed game on YouTube, logging 42.4 million hours to League of Legends‘ 39.6 million hours. Of these 42.4 million hours, a small proportion was given over to esports views, compared to 68% of LoL‘s total. YouTube users, then, are looking to League of Legends largely to see professional play, but to Fortnite to simply watch their favourite streamers in action – or even just a bit of amateur play.
Celebrity player Ninja’s Fortnite-centred YouTube channel boasts 24.1 million subscribers at the time of writing. He gave up 14.7 million Twitch subscribers to defect to the now defunct Mixer, where he had 2 million subs as of September 2019. He has since returned, and counts 16.1 million Twitch followers, as of November 2020.
One tournament organised by Spanish YouTuber elrubiusOMG was viewed by 42 million people, with 1.1 million tuning concurrently at one point.
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 had a Fortnite prize money pool of $100 million to award during the 2018/19 season, over a range of tournaments.
A good chunk of the latter prize pool was reserved for the Fortnite World Cup, which saw no less than $30 million up for grabs. Every qualifying player (100 solo players, and 50 doubles teams) stood to take home at least $50,000, with the winners of the solo and duo categories taking home $3 million apiece (split between the two duo winner).
On top of this, $1 million was on the line every week from mid-April until mid June, during the qualifying rounds. Around 40 million players took part in the qualifiers.
The final tournament took place July 26-28 2019, in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City – most famously the largest venue used for US Open tennis. Tickets retailed for anything from $50 to $150.
The solo event was won by Kyle Giersdorf, aka Bugha, from Pennsylvania, a tender 16 years of age at the time of his triumph. As an indication of how far e-sports have come, his victory earned him an invite onto Jimmy Fallon’s talkshow.
Giersdorf’s $3 million prize is the largest individual prize in e-sports history. Indeed, it takes him to 12th in the table of the highest lifetime earnings in e-sports.
The list is topped by Dota 2 player Johan Sundstein, aka N0tail, of Denmark, who can lay claim to lifetime earnings of $6.9 million.
Giersdorf is the highest-earning Fortnite player on the list, with multiplayer online battle arena Dota 2 dominating the highest earners list (accounting for 44 of the top-50).
The next highest non-Dota 2 earner is another Fortnite player, Psalm – or Harrison Chang from the US – in at 31, followed by Austrian-player David Wang, aka Aqua, at 35.
Psalm’s high positioning is bolstered by the $1.8 million he earned by finishing second in the Fortnite World Cup main event. Third place Epikwhale (Shane Cotton) won $1.2 million. The New York Times reports that Cotton would practice playing the game for 10 hours per day in the run-up to the tournament.
The duo title, with the $3 million prize money, was taken by Norwegien Emil Bergquist Pedersen (Nhyrox) and the aforementioned Aqua. CNN notes that they were not hotly-tipped to take home the prize, compared to some of the bigger teams present. In the world of pro-Fortnite, surprises are certainly possible.
Epic also ran a Fortnite Champion Series over Season X, in which teams of three competed in a three-day tournament after qualifying in regional heats over five weeks. Players become eligible by qualifying for the Champion League in the game’s Arena mode. This was also interspersed with one-day solo tournaments – all with cash prizes. Total prize money for the tournament was $10 million.
The biggest prize of $600,000 went to a European team, consisting of E11 Tschiiinken, E11 Stompy, and COOLER aqua.
Chapter 2 Season 1 changed the format again, with team size changing to squads of four. The prize pool for this tournament stands at $5 million. This kicked off in November 2019, with the finals in early December. Rumours (at the time of writing) are circulating that the next competitive tournament will centre on duo play.
The first $8 million of the 2018 pool 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 offered a smaller prize pool of $1 million, but will was 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.
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. Many parents have gone so far as to send their children to rehab to help get over their Fortnite addiction.
It doesn’t stop with children. The game has reportedly been brought up in 200 UK divorce cases. One UK man who managed to curtail his gaming before it got to that stage reported spending up to 18-hours per day playing Fortnite, and cited beginning to feel like he was suffering from a multiple personality disorder as a result.
Lawsuits have inevitably followed. In Canada, in October 2019, two plaintiffs with children aged 15 and 10 brought a lawsuit against Epic. Lawyers for the accusers argued the game had been intentionally engineered, with, statisticians and psychologists, to be addictive.
The Fortnite lawsuits run two ways. Epic Games has got involved too, bringing 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
According to analytics firm SuperData, Fortnite 2018 revenue came to $2.4 billion – the highest annual revenue figure in gaming history by its reckoning. This was considered to be a major factor in an 11% increase in total gaming revenue over 2017 (a total of $109.8 billion). For context, second-place (in the free-to-play category at least) Dungeon Fighter Online brought in $1.5 billion.
Fortnite remained atop the pile in 2019, albeit reporting a diminished figure of $1.8 billion – a sign of both declining market freshness and an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Fortnite annual revenue, USD billions
Total Fortnite revenue was estimated at $400 million in April 2020.
If this were accurate, it would represent a lockdown-powered slowing of longer term negative trend. Indeed, we even saw revenue levels begin to slow through 2018 – barring an increase in Fortnite revenue in December 2018 (for obvious reasons).
Interestingly, other titles seem to spike a little earlier or later, meaning that the lion’s share of that Christmas revenue went to Fortnite.
After that, we saw a considerable crash back down to earth. Hollywood Reporter reports that Fortnite revenue in January 2019 was down 48% on December’s record levels (though still comfortably up year-on-year over the early days of January 2018).
The graph below shows relative levels, compared to that peak month. For a bit of context, May 2019 Fornite revenue is reckoned at $203 million.
Fornite revenue (relative) vs other online games, Aug 2017 – July 2019
Source: Edison Trends
This decline seemingly continued after this point, with SuperTrends reporting that Fortnite revenue for September 2019 was lower than at any point since November 2017. Revenue for the month was down 43% on August alone.
By this reckoning, Fortnite was ninth terms of PC revenue, seventh in the console revenue chart, and did not make the top-10 in terms of mobile game revenue in September 2019. The month saw a contraction in both PC and console gaming spend (17% and 36% year-on-year respectively). 6% year-on-year growth in mobile gaming spend was not enough to arrest an overall decline, though it did limit it to 1%.
These Fortnite revenue stats come from just before the launch of Chapter 2. It remains to be seen whether this will reinvigorate spending.
As above, though, the decline is long-term. The May 2019 figure of $203 million was down 38% year-on-year – though this was enough for it to top the console spending chart, and hold on to fifth place in the PC category. At this stage it had already fallen out of the top-10 in terms of mobile spending.
If we cast our eye back to May 2018, we see Fortnite: Battle Royale revenue of $318 million (the highest-reported monthly figure by this juncture). This made 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.
Fortnite iOS revenue
In terms of mobile revenue, Fortnite brought in $36.9 million in July 2020, the last full month of its being available on the App Store. We saw a lockdown peak reported in April 2020, when users spent $44.3 million. Spending had sunk as low as $21.8 in November 2019.
The below stats are iOS only until April 2020, from which point they include Google Play. Android revenue from direct downloads is not included.
Monthly spending on Fortnite, April 2019 – August 2020, USD millions
Source: Sensor Tower
Fortnite lifetime mobile revenue (with the same qualifications) reached $1 billion in May 2020. This represented a doubling of the figure reported in September 2019.
Fortnite lifetime mobile revenue, USD millions
Source: Sensor Tower
The US contributed nearly two thirds of this $1 billion, with the UK ($38.2 million) and Switzerland ($36.2 million) other noticeable contributors.
At earlier points, Australia and Canada were singled out as making noteworthy contributions to total Fortnite geography.
Fortnite lifetime revenue by country, USD billions
Source: Sensor Tower
Sensor Tower stats indicate that each download of Fortnite was worth $7.70 to Epic.
Earlier data indicated that Fortnite logged $455 million in iOS revenue in 2018. Daily Fortnite iOS revenue as of November 2018 was $1.23 million.
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 2018, Fortnite surpassed $350 million on iOS alone.
The Android version of the game came October 2018 – with all revenue going directly to Epic Games, through its circumvention of the Play Store.
As well as 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.
Epic Games revenue
Over the course of 2018, Epic reported profits of $3 billion. Revenue for that year is estimated at $5.8 billion. 2019 was a slightly weaker year, with $4.2 billion in revenue and EBITDA of $730 million. Estimates for 2020 were set at $5 billion as of June of that year, with EBITDA of $1 billion.
In January 2020, it was reported that Epic had raised $680 million in revenue through their Valve-rivalling Epic Games Store in its first year.
Epic Games investments
Epic announced that it had raised $1.25 billion in funding in late October 2018, 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 2012). Fortnite’s runaway success is no doubt behind the developer’s appeal to investors.
The October 2018 funding round took total investment in Epic Games to $1.6 billion.
In August 2020, a new $1.78 billion funding deal was announced (a mixture of primary capital and secondary purchases), including a $250 million strategic investment from Sony.
Epic Games valuation
The August 2020 round saw Epic’s valuation increase to $17.3 billion.
Gaming industry revenue stats
The free-to-play market contributed $81.5 billion to total gaming industry revenue over in 2018 ($4 out of every $5), and exceeded expectations to generate $87.1 billion over 2019.
A small increase was forecasted for 2020, driven by mobile gaming. Mobile gaming already accounts for the lion’s share of revenue, with Asia accounting for nearly two-thirds of mobile revenue.
This prediction was made pre-pandemic – it is likely that this steady narrative will be disrupted for one year at least.
Free-to-play gaming revenue, by format and region, 2018 – 2020
A 39% increase in Xbox revenue in 2018 was 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 the last couple of years 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 marked 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, if it does take place, there is no telling just how much bigger the juggernaut that is Fortnite could yet be.
An increasingly crowded marketplace and the dispute with Apple may, however, prove impediments to further growth by Epic’s flagship game. Nonetheless up until this time, Fortnite remained one of the most played and watched mobile games out there – and one of the lucrative.
Whether or not it reclaims that status depends on either meeting Apple’s terms (doing so could get Fortnite back onto the app store tomorrow, says Apple) or else persuading the world’s most valuable company to meet Epic’s. One outcome certainly seems more likely than the other at the time of writing (November 2020), but given how unpredictable 2020 has been, futurology is a risky business with which to be involved…