SuperData and Fortnite studio Epic Games tussle over reported revenue numbers

    
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We’ve been covering SuperData’s monthly reports on the state of the industry for a long time – since before we were MassivelyOP, for that matter. And for as long as I can remember, we’ve grumbled over the fact that SuperData’s methodology is opaque, at least in regard to the revenue ranking charts the analytics firm, purchased by Nielsen in 2018, puts out every month. For us, as indie journalists rather than megacorps with the budget to splash out thousands on full reports, we’re left looking at relative rankings and occasional nibbles from the data. It’s useful, don’t get me wrong, especially for getting a feel for long-term trends – but it’s far from perfect.

So when some games start to trend downward in the charts, it only makes sense that they might object, especially when they look bad. That’s exactly what Epic Games is doing now. According to GIbiz, Epic has disputed SuperData’s methodology and data when it comes to Fortnite, though not any one specific report. Here’s Epic’s shade:

“SuperData does not and has not ever had access to Epic’s Fortnite revenue data, and SuperData’s reports do not accurately reflect Fortnite’s performance. We are disappointed that SuperData has repeatedly published wildly inaccurate reports about Fortnite based on what we believe is questionable methodology. While we do not and have not publicly shared revenue numbers for Fortnite, we will say that SuperData’s reports do not align with reality.”

SuperData, for its part, claimed to GIbiz that it has a “proven methodology and validation process” and says it will stand behind its reports. That’s vague, of course, but it’s just as vague as the complaint, since Epic didn’t actually counter or contradict any specific claim, number, or report.

Most recently, the analytics firm asserted that Fortnite’s revenue, long in decline, had sunk to its lowest levels since November 2017. That’s an odd month indeed, as it’s one of the only ones we don’t have coverage of. Apparently that’s because SuperData didn’t actually do a post that month – just a tweet over the holidays, which The Ancient Gaming Noob snagged for posterity (cheers, Wilhelm). Fortnite wasn’t in the top 10. It’s not on the October 2017 chart, either. In fact, it appeared in the rankings only in December 2017, when it really began challenging PUBG. So SuperData’s claim isn’t superficially unbelievable.

Source: GIbiz

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Wilhelm Arcturus

There is a symbiotic relationship between analysts and public companies. Analysts want to sell data and public companies want analysts to say nice things about them to boost stock prices, so there is often a sharing of data. Cooperating with analysts makes you look better to the fund managers and the analysts won’t totally trash you because you might stop cooperating. Also, public companies cannot lie outrageously to analysts because they have to report their sales and earning quarterly.

Private companies though, that is a whole different ball of wax. SuperData probably gets good sales numbers for Fortnite on consoles, since the console stores all belong to public companies. They also probably get PC/mobile Fortnite numbers in China from Tencent, which is public and is no doubt the source of the League of Legends numbers. On PC in the rest of the world though… they probably have some formula based on a series of data points in order to make an estimate. That number is probably wrong on any given month… hell, it is probably wrong every single month… but so long as they use the method consistently, it can still plot up and down trends and get a sense of the game’s activity.

So if Fortnite is in 7th spot on the PC list, that might not be where it really belongs. Maybe it should be in 5th, maybe it should be in 9th. But the trend of Fortnite sliding down the list, that is probably realistic. Tim Sweeney and Epic, who we’ve seen trying to control the narrative around the Epic Store, has been moved to try and do so around SuperData. We don’t know why. And, more importantly, we don’t know what they really mean when they say SuperData doesn’t align with reality. Being off by 1% or 100% would both fit that vague accusation, and “wildly” could be explained away as hyperbole if we found out the truth was closer to the lesser value.

TL;DR – Tim Sweeney will be Tim Sweeney.

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rafael12104

Hmm. This is funny. They very reason SuperData is a success is because companies, for years, have refused to provide their numbers until EOQ reporting. And yet, the Superdata hasn’t been much of a problem until now? Heh.

Problem can be easily fixed by Epic, right? They can show SuperData for the charlatains that they are by posting the real numbers. Lol! That’s not going to happen.

Look, I’m no fan of SuperData’s methods. They are not completely transparent and they treat their results with the accuracy of financials. BUT their data does serve as a weathervein.

So Epic better be careful because their complaints only serve to highlight their real problem.

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flying_dutchman

Well, I’d say to Epic put up or shut up.

I’m sure Superdata does some hard core data mining and statistical analysis, and since I HATE statistics, I’m sure a lot of their data is BS and that makes any reasonable estimations made from it also BS.

Still, they have been around in the industry a LONG time. If there data didn’t at least provide some useful trends and incites they’d have long since gone under.

You can’t counter someone’s assertion with “Because reasons” and expect it to fly.

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Witches

Is FN doing that bad? Because saying something now just makes it look like they are desperate.

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Utakata

I think there is good reason to not trust every result that SuperData puts out as written by the gods. As there is good reason to question why Epic is complaining about this now, as opposed to when the numbers where clearly in their favor. Just saying…

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Utakata

PS: Incase anyone is wondering if this a “both sides” argument. It’s not really. Rather a classic case of he said/she said. Where the reasonable conclusion is really not to take sides until new evidence arises supports either, both or neither sides. So my OP, for right or wrong, suggests neither side is looking pretty in this right now. /sigh

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TherecDaMage .

Any chance that companies start suing SuperData for libel claiming damages to the brand for their statements that a game is on the decline? Even if the claim is false, could it be used as a tactic to force SuperData to reveal their methods publicly to prove they’re not blowing smoke?

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Wilhelm Arcturus

Zero chance. If you sue you have to go through discovery to prove they are wrong, and Epic clearly doesn’t want to share their numbers, they just want to throw mud at SuperData’s numbers.

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Danny Smith

I imagine there are far more companies that dont want their accurate numbers seeing the light of day than those that do so its considered in their best interest to keep schtum.

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McGuffn

I don’t think anybody actually cares.

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Danny Smith

Translation: We are literally kept afloat by selling V bucks to Zoomers who are growing out of our fad meme game, please dont let our shareholders know how we live!

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Wilhelm Arcturus

The key shareholders are Tim Sweeney, who owns a majority of the company, and Tencent, which holds a minority stake. If you look up estimates of Tim Sweeney’s net worth, you can imagine that he is living pretty high. Fad memes pay pretty well I guess, though even if they didn’t have Fortnite, they still have the Unreal Engine to bring in the bucks.