"Fortnite: Battle Royale" has discovered the secret sauce for a perfect video game hit in 2018.
The free-to-play title of privately held Epic Games Inc. is the most financially successful free game on consoles by SuperData. It's said to rake in $ 2 million a day from Apple Inc.
iOS player less than three weeks after launch on this platform on April 1, and in March, the game brought in $ 233 million across all platforms. It's a cultural phenomenon, except for a small rain of money: the seemingly overnight rising title has attracted the attention of professional athletes who say that it is a frequent changing room theme and even used by a high school student asking someone for prom, part of one social experience that has made the game a meeting place for players.
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Epic, who refused to provide senior executives for this article, found a basic recipe for success in 2018: a video game needs a strong social experience and must be tasty for viewers and be made available on multiple platforms for free.
Basically, "Fortnite" is a multiplayer first person shooter game for mobile devices, PCs and game consoles. Most popular is the game against 100 players in a battle for death on a shrinking map, known in the jargon as "Battle Royale" game. It's not the first popular game of its kind: privately owned Bluehole Studio Inc. released "PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds" in early 2017 for an earlier and still popular success in the genre, but "PUBG", as the game is widely known, is " Fortnite "surpassed.
"It's not the first Battle Royale game, but & # 39; Fortnite & # 39; s really brilliant," said benchmark analyst Michael Hickey. Anyone who tries to copy it will fail, and all others [gaming companies] will try and iterate on Battle Royale games themselves, they will not try to replicate "Fortnite." That would be suicide. "
Fortnites' ascent to Notoriety has happened so fast that heavyweights in the industry like Take-Two Interactive Inc.
Activision Blizzard Inc.
and Electronic Arts Inc.
have not yet brought the competition to the table.
One possible reason is that Fortnite's secret sauce has several moving parts. Perhaps the simplest is the existing audience of millions of players playing first-person or third-person shooter games, many of which are produced by the giants of the gaming industry. Games in Activision's "Call of Duty" series often sell more than 20 million units, and competing titles in the genre, such as EA's "Battlefield" or Take-Two "Grand Theft Auto" series are also selling well.
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"I think the Battle Royale mode appeals to anyone who has played shooter titles or enjoy being a typical "Call of Duty" and "Overwatch" consumer, "said Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson. "Every year, Activision sells more than 20 million copies of Call of Duty, console-only and PC-based, and has an audience for tens of millions of dollars in Battle Royale games."
Free-to-play Fornite revenue are all about microtransactions, and the key to the longevity of the game is that players can not buy anything that affects the game's actual game mechanics, which has proved disastrous in the past. Players can only buy cosmetic upgrades, and they seem willing to do so at a rate of tens of millions of dollars a month.
"The business model works very well for microtransactions," said Hickey. "The monetization of" Fortnite "is not in the charts."
But Epic has also gone beyond the boundaries of existing shooters with "Fortnite", so players can build structures from harvested materials during the game – it's easier to see and understand – which makes it harder to play and more interesting to see.
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In addition to the game mechanics, "Fortnite" has also attracted viewers because of the social aspects involved in the game. At Amazon.com Inc.
AMZN, + 3.60%
Twitch, a YouTube-like service for streaming video games in competition, "Fortnite" attracted more than 10 million viewers and surpassed "PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds" in early February.  "It's very good to see," Hickey said in a telephone interview. "The streamer has been everywhere and has been very successful, suspense is marketability, and you do not have to be a player to enjoy it."
There is also a large fan base among 12- to 14-year-olds, Hickey says the game hours are short and massive The community has evolved around the title.
Fortnite's advantage will only give it such a big advantage until the big players in the industry release their own versions in the imitation-heavy video game industry. Olson says that it is likely to be an issue that will crop up during Activision, Electronic Arts and Take-Two's winning bid this quarter and at the major E3 video game conference in June, although there have not been any formal announcements yet.
What is likely to happen, in some cases, is that the big developers will add Battle Royale mode to their already successful shooter products, such as Call of Duty.
"With existing games that are extremely popular, it's likely to integrate Battle Royale mode rather than buying a new studio," Olson said.
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Olson does not expect much of an impact for EA or Take-Two from the rapid rise of "Fortnite" and "Battlegrounds" "Activision could impact its revenue as many of its most popular titles are shooters or in the action genre.
" Fortnite "may be more positive than negative for the first-person shooters of Activision and other publishers even though it did draw new players into a genre that did not really exist before on a large scale, as the industry has struggled to find ways to increase its core audience.
"There is a need for innovation in the field Shooter genre, "said BTIG analyst Brandon Ross, adding that the Battle Royale mode has shown that both non-players and occasional players have a clear demand." There were people who were part of it They wanted what was going on in the game, they just needed the barriers to access that were removed, "he said.