Epic Games' Fortnite is rapidly approaching three years old but is it really struggling to stay afloat in the saturated battle royale market? With #RIPFortnite trending on Twitter, we take a look at viewership, prominent player opinions and its biggest rivals.
Fortnite vs Apex Legends vs Warzone vs Valorant
The last few years have seen a swell in the number of battle royale games available to players. While Fortnite revolutionized the market, it followed popular games like PUBG and H1Z1. These games have since fallen by the wayside, making way for Apex Legends and Warzone.
However, what do viewership figures indicate? We know that both Warzone and Apex Legends have surpassed 50 million unique players, but Epic have been slightly more tight-lipped about their numbers of late. The last real update we got was in March 2019, when Epic confirmed that 250 million unique users had played Fortnite.
According to TwitchMetrics, Fortnite's average viewership over the last month - from mid-March to mid-April - was just over 91,000. This puts it as the sixth most popular category on Twitch.
It also puts it considerably ahead of Apex Legends, which came in 17th for the same time period. However, it lost out to CS:GO, League of Legends, Valorant and, perhaps most importantly, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
This is arguably the biggest takeaway, given that Warzone (part of Modern Warfare) is a battle royale and so represents the most significant competitor to Fortnite.
When we compare the statistics for Fortnite to Warzone or Valorant, it does indeed fall significantly behind.
Modern Warfare's average viewership on the platform over the same time period is just shy of 140,000, putting it nearly 50,000 ahead of Fortnite. Similarly, Valorant's average viewership is nearly 250,000. This puts it nearly 160,000 average viewers ahead of Fortnite at any given point.
While these stats make for pretty grim reading for Fortnite fans, it's important to remember a few caveats.
Firstly, one of Fortnite's biggest streamers is Ninja and, while he has had some negative feedback for Epic of late, he will be racking up considerable viewership over on Mixer. Secondly, players are granted access to Valorant's beta by watching Twitch streams. Hence, while the game's beta is running, players are uniquely incentivized to watch Riot's new FPS.
It's also key to remember that Valorant and Warzone are far newer than Fortnite, meaning that player interest may fall away soon. This is something Fortnite has overcome previously, with battle royales like Black Ops 4's Blackout.
Are pro players and content creators ditching Fortnite?
In short, some are, some aren't. We still see streamers like Ninja and Tfue pulling in vast audiences for Fortnite. However, both garner significant viewership whatever title they play.
On the other hand, we have seen many creators and pros move away from Epic Games' title. Recently, Fortnite World Cup runner-up Psalm announced he would be moving to Valorant.
Similarly, CouRageJD and DrLupo, two of Fortnite's biggest content creators, recently revealed their reasons for moving away from Fortnite. The two have worked closely with Epic in the past, casting some of the game's biggest tournaments, so their reluctance to play it certainly speaks volumes.
Why are people angry at Epic Games?
When looking at why players are frustrated with Epic, it's important to remember that there are still huge numbers of Fortnite players who are happy with the game and the direction it's taken. See explanations on 'silent majority'.
However, it's undeniable that a lot of players are also frustrated with Epic. Among other reasons, the inclusion of skill-based matchmaking in public matches has been controversial. Fans argue that it punishes high-skilled players, and that a game with dedicated 'ranked' modes - like Fortnite's Arena - should not have it in public games.
Furthermore, Epic's decision to cease publishing patch notes remains very unpopular. While originally done to minimize the impact their decisions had on players, it seems many have merely become annoyed at the lack of clarity over changes the game has made.
Finally, Fortnite grew to be known for its regular content drops and patches to keep the game fresh. Many feel this has dried up of late. Chapter 2's first season ran for roughly five months. Given that the game's most significant changes occur when new seasons drop, the lengthy opening to Chapter 2 left many bored and tired of a stagnating game.