Epic's battle royale phenomenon still leads over competitors PUBG and Apex Legends, but its US July revenue showed a 52% drop year-over-year. V-bucks, Fortnite's in-game currency, accounted for the vast majority of in-game spending.
There’s no question that the battle royale genre is wildly successful. The competitive online genre is expected to pass five billion dollars in revenue by 2020, with 42% of all gamers reporting that they’ve played at least one battle royale game. Leading the pack is Epic Games’ Fortnite, which has become a cultural phenomenon in the time since its 2017 release. However, a new report from market tracking firm Edison Trends shows that Fornite’s revenue is in decline, with July 2019 showing a 52% drop compared to July 2018.
Given Fortnite’s domination over other popular online games like Apex Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the Epic battle royale is still outpacing its competitors when it comes to player spending. However, this downturn is part of an ongoing trend. After a meteoric rise between November 2017 and May 2018, Fortnite revenue has been in a steady decline since — with the exception of December 2018, which saw an all-time high thanks in part to the holiday season.
As of July, Apex Legends sits at a very distant second place, but it’s worth noting that EA’s answer to the battle royale craze has only been on the market since February 2019, while Fortnite and PUBG have had years to develop a following. Speaking of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, spending for that game peaked in December 2017 and has mostly declined since, but has been more steady than Fortnite since mid-2018.
Fortnite’s revenue pattern parallels a report from StreamElements earlier this year, which showed that the dominant battle royale’s streaming numbers were slipping, despite still being the most-watched game on streaming services. As streaming and influencers become a major part of the video game marketing cycle, it’s interesting to see the correlation between viewership and revenue.
There is one category in which Apex Legends outranks Fortnite: player loyalty. When analyzing how often players made repeated in-game purchases, Edison Trends determined that 62% of Apex Legends players did so. Fortnite stands in second place at 49%, followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and PUBG at 40% and 38%, respectively.
An exceptionally popular game seeing a decline in revenue isn’t cause to declare the genre dead, of course; not by a long shot. Since hitting its stride in late 2017, Fortnite has been the clear leader when compared to the other three games in this report. However, it’s worth keeping an eye on these numbers, because they can be indicative of what’s to come. Whether Fortnite will ever surpass its December 2018 peak remains to be seen, but for the immediate future, at least, its developers can rest easy knowing it’s still the top battle royale contender on the market.
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