by John Hansen
Cultural phenomenon Fortnite might be showing an indication that it’s dropping a bit. According to TwitchAdvisor, for August, Fortnite’s viewership dropped 13%. Don’t be worried all you Fortnite fans; the game is still the number one viewed game on Twitch at 7.7 billion minutes watched in the month. The second most-watched game was League of Legends, which saw a 10% increase to 4.82 billion minutes in the month.
There are explanations for why the most popular game in the world right now fell in viewership in the last month. The number one reason that sticks out to me is summer break ending and kids going back to school. Simply, there is less time for a good chunk of Fortnite’s fanbase to watch now. Other games are starting to take away Fortnite’s shine.
Last week Treyarch gave us the Call of Duty Black Ops 4 beta for their new battle royale mode, Blackout. While not getting a chance to play it myself, the beta seemed generally well accepted and reportedly had good polish for a game not released yet. According to SullyGnome, during that week, not as much time was spent watching the beta streams, but COD had double the number of peak viewers than Fortnite. This could be a sign of things to come, as we continue through the holiday season and games that have more than just battle royale continue to come out.
During that same amount of time, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive saw more watched time than Fortnite while having about a ninth of the amount of time of the game streamed.
There is also the fact that every game that transcends the gaming medium will hit a peak at some point and come back down to earth.
Let’s look at some of the most popular games within the last decade. Minecraft was being talked about everywhere constantly for years. It was an easily accessible game that anyone could make fun. Nowadays, you do not hear about it in the news as much, but it still is played by millions of people every day. Almost every time I pick up my six-year-old daughter, she asks to play the game on one of the multiple platforms she has access to it. There are still YouTube channels that regularly make Minecraft videos.
Last year, PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battle Grounds was the talk of the town before Fortnite snuck in and stole that chicken dinner with more exciting updates and content. It seemed that every day there were new records on Twitch broken by PUBG. The game had enough steam to bring the question of whether an unfinished game could be considered for game of the year. PUBG’s full product release on Xbox came at a time where it is nowhere near as popular as it was this time last year, but a good chunk of people still play it daily, and that is before it inevitably comes to Play Station 4. Where was PUBG on the list of most watched games on Twitch last month? 7th with over 2 billion minutes spent watching it, up 29% from the previous month.
What I am trying to say here is, Fortnite might have peaked, but there is no way it is going anywhere. It might be seeing its time in the spotlight for 2018, but I would wager this time next year we will be talking about the new “big” thing. Meanwhile, Fortnite will still be making tons of money and have a healthy player base. Epic Games always brings interesting content regularly and even though I am not the biggest fan of battle royale modes, I can acknowledge the impact it has had on society for the better part of this year.
Games as a service are proving to have longer lifespans than many games we have seen in the past, and Fortnite is by far the most successful product we have seen take this business mindset. Even though the game may slip in viewership and inevitably popularity, it will be readily available for everyone for a very long time.