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Fortnite took competitive esports by storm following its release in July 2017. It has infiltrated global industries and grown into a massive franchise with toys, clothing lines, and an NFL partnership. Last year alone, Fortnite grossed $1.8 billion.
However, all good things must come to an end. In their January 2020 digital games report, analysts at SuperData revealed a downward revenue trend in Fortnite. Interestingly, iconic battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is making a silent comeback.
Fortnite’s gradual decline
Epic Games, Fortnite‘s developer, is no stranger to ingenious marketing campaigns. After the game’s release, developers rolled out eye-catching skins, quirky emotes, and seasonal events. Fortnite‘s top content creator, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, played live on Twitch with famous rapper Drake. Furthermore, the implementation of V-Bucks, an in-game currency, skyrocketed the game’s revenue.
However, things started to change in 2019 when SuperData showed a month to month decline in revenue compared to the previous year. In December 2018, Fortnite was the number one game for console users and third for PC gamers.
Moving forward to December 2019, Fortnite failed to break into the top 10 for the PC category and dropped to number six for consoles.
SuperData reports January 2020 brought the game’s lowest revenue since November 2017. According to CNET, Doron Nir, CEO and co-founder of StreamElements, stated:
While it’s normal for some games to gradually lose viewership month over month, the best way to maintain relevance and spike the numbers are by staging events, hosting competitions, and having a pipeline of new content.
October 15 brought the infamous Chapter 2 black hole event. Its dramaticism earned global attention as enthusiasts eagerly awaited the game’s return. Throughout Chapter 2, Epic released a holiday festival, Star Wars event, and a Birds of Prey mash-up. Additionally, Epic introduced Chapter 2 Season 2 just six days ago. Despite an active influx of content, players are still drifting away from the game.
PUBG rears its head
Fortnite‘s stronghold on the battle royale genre stems from the fact that there isn’t much competition in the first place. Fortnite‘s demographic is broad, meaning it’s attractive to both children and adults. Meanwhile, previous battle royale games such as PUBG are geared towards a more mature audience.
With such engaging content designed to attract a wide variety of gamers, it’s no wonder that Fortnite managed to remain king of the hill for this long. However, multiple competitors have attempted to rise up in the genre. Apex Legends temporarily snagged the number one battle royale spot from Fortnite.
PUBG devs released the game’s Season 6 update for console and PC in January. PC gamers responded exceptionally well, according to SuperData, as in-game transactions grew an astonishing 512% month-over-month.
With Season 6 in full swing and developers releasing more updates such as the long-awaited Team Deathmatch mode, new skins, and visual improvements, perhaps the FPS staple is making its return.
Minna Adel Rubio is an esports journalist with an interest in first-person-shooter games. She specializes in class-based, arena, and tactical shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Overwatch, and Team Fortress 2. Additionally, Minna is a senior CS:GO guides writer at Dignitas and a graduate student. Catch her on Twitter for memes and more content!