There’s a new thinkpiece out on how Fortnite happened and what it all means every week lately, but SuperData’s latest might be a comfort to the rest of the industry. Analyst Bethany Lyons argues that Fortnite’s wild success isn’t coming at the expense of all other games.
“Fortnite Battle Royale has grown without disrupting the bottom line or player base of a surprising number of free-to-play games. For example, the title has increased its console revenue in May at a rate of 12% month-over-month, while other free-to-play console games stayed more or less consistent,” she writes.
So that’s revenue. What about users? Other games are still growing, some even faster than Fortnite, she says, particularly in the free-to-play console market, which is encouraging competitors to focus there. And streaming? Seems hours-watched on Twitch for the big games have stayed fairly even too as Fortnite has taken off.
May 2018 was good to Fortnite, again, SuperData’s latest global revenue report shows, but its growth rate may be coming to a middle. “Fortnite hits a new high but growth is slowing down,” the research firm says in today’s report. “We estimate that Fortnite made $318 million across all platforms in May, up 7% from April. The majority of growth came from console, with mobile and PC both coming in flat compared to April.”
On the PC side, Dota 2 came out of nowhere to return to the list at #6, bumping World of Warcraft down a tick and Hearthstone off completely. League of Legends continues to rule the roost.
On the console side, Fortnite is still at the top; both Overwatch and Destiny 2 have returned to the top 10 as games like Far Cry 5 and Battlefield have fallen off.
And on mobile, Pokemon Go has resurged, as it always does in summer in the northern hemisphere, as it’s gathered up more players than ever. Fun side note: Remember Netease’s Knives Out, one of its two PUBG clones on mobile? It’s in 5th place globally on mobile, just behind POGO, so PUBG’s lawsuit isn’t so bonkers after all.
Welcome back to another mobile MMO roundup, those MMOs that obviously don’t count because they are played on a small screen instead of a massive screen, and we all know that’s what the M stands for, am I right?
First up is MapleStory M, the mobile edition of MapleStory, which soft launched in multiple regions over the holiday weekend; Canadians and Aussies can hop in, but those of us in the US and Europe are still waiting. Nexon is calling it a “real” MMORPG on mobile, and did I mention it’s cute as a button?
Fortnite had another record month of revenue in April, according to SuperData’s latest global revenue report. “Epic’s Battle Royale shooter made $296 million in April across Console, PC and Mobile, up from $223 million in March,” says the firm.
But the more interesting story is SuperData’s assertion that “Grand Theft Auto V is finally showing its age.”
“GTA V Online revenue declined 9% year-over-year, ending an impressive streak of 12 consecutive months with year-over-year growth. GTA V Online has declined sequentially every month since the start of the year, likely in part due to the continued rise of Fortnite as well as a dearth of significant content updates from Rockstar.”
“Fortnite is now the largest free-to-play console game of all time, in revenue generated and monthly active users,” SuperData has declared in its monthly revenue report for the gaming industry for March 2018. The game sits at the tippy-top of the console listing and has now breezed past both PUBG and World of Warcraft to sit at #5 on PC.
“Fortnite had quite a March. The game has overtaken the previous ‘king of battle royale,’ PUBG, in terms of revenue generated and monthly active users across all platforms. It also hit the #1 spot by revenue on iOS in the United States in its launch month, and has the highest conversion rate of any free-to-play PC game in March. […] There’s no other way to say it: the game is a phenomenon. Fortnite generated $223 million across all platforms (console, PC, Mobile) in March, up a whopping 73% from February.”
Hearthstone’s re-entry to the PC side has bumped Far Cry 5 out of the top 10 (though Far Cry 5 on console is at #2). Destiny 2 is now nowhere to be found, Monster Hunter World has sunk to #10 on the console side, and Sea of Thieves debuted at #7 for console revenue. Don’t get too excited about Sea of Thieves, though; the analytics firm says almost half of the game’s two million or so monthly active users were playing the free trial.
Things are looking slightly grim for Valve’s MOBA, as SuperData reports that DOTA 2’s playerbase is in decline as the game continues to lose its population.
The average player base, which peaked at 709,000 back in February 2016, is now down to 437,000 as of last month. Peak players have declined from 1.2 million down to 733,000 over the same span of time.
While the MOBA is still boasting respectable numbers and is active in the e-sports scene, it doesn’t even break onto the top 10 charts for Superdata’s monthly PC rankings (where competitor League of Legends continues to sit comfortably at the top).
The MOBA pushed out its Feast of Abscession update earlier this month, adding the Pudge Arcana for the butcher and lots of new voiceovers.
How big a deal with the lootbox controversy that finally hit the mainstream last year? Pretty big, SuperData argues. In a new blog post, the analytics firm argues that “the loot box controversy hampered Star Wars Battlefront II out of the gate” as shown by the game’s monthly active users compared to its predecessor’s, and that the resulting dumpster fire has caused publishers to rethink lootboxes and self-regulate or at least modulate their greed – an effect we’ve already seen in the MMO industry too.
“At the upcoming E3, we’re likely to see presenters announce ‘no loot boxes’ or that paid content is ‘cosmetic only’ in order to get on the good side of creators and hardcore gamers,” SuperData predicts. “Loot boxes won’t disappear anytime soon given their success in games like Overwatch (over $600M of loot boxes sold through February 2018). In the short term, though, ‘No loot boxes’ will be the game industry’s own ‘gluten free water’ — and we’re likely to even see this slogan used to market titles where loot boxes would not make sense such as adventure games.”
Fortnite isn’t just a hit for Epic: It’s a hit for the whole industry. That’s according to SuperData’s latest report, which ranks PC, console, and mobile games according to their global revenues in the month of February.
“Fortnite Battle Royale’s dominance in the Free-to-play Console segment drives the segment’s 359% year-over-year growth,” says the analytics firm. “Epic’s Battle Royale title showed no signs of losing steam. Fortnite earned more additional content revenue on console than any game other than Call of Duty: WWII and now has more monthly active users than Grand Theft Auto V.”
Pay-to-play MMOs shrank again this month, continuing the trend identified in previous months. On the PC side, Crossfire and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II switched places, and Hearthstone rejoined the list to bump off Overwatch, but otherwise, it’s pretty much the same list as last week, with World of Warcraft hanging in there at #7.
There’s a lot of stuff swirling around the Fortnite community of late, starting with adjustments to the game’s Blitz mode to reduce how many resources you gain at once. It made farming materials a little too trivial, and so you’ll have to deal with slightly fewer resources. It’s an attempt to modify player behaviors with mechanics, which is also why the game removed friendly fire options; forcing players to play together was an effort to combat toxicity instead of rewarding nastiness for the heck of it.
Off of the official side, players of the game are reselling special Twitch Prime skins via eBay, which involves some shady (read: patently disallowed) account sharing antics. On the less shady side, a dedicated player has put together a fort designer to help players on a time budget come up with good fortifications to deploy in-game for the Battle Royale mode, so you don’t need to become paralyzed with choice before someone snipes you from halfway across the map.
Last week, almost buried in the avalanche of other news was a datapoint from SuperData that the analytics firm characterized as bad news for the existing subscription MMORPGs. “Continuing their decline, the Social and Pay-to-Play MMO segments shrank 5% and 9%, respectively.” A downer for the incoming MMOs planning subs, yeah?
Maybe not. It’s possible that, as our commenter Sally Bowls noted, it’s not doom for sub MMOs; that’s just to be expected when we have so few existing sub MMOs as it is, and surely that pay-to-play number is heavily influenced by World of Warcraft specifically. “So we would expect the P2P segment to drop or be stable in Q1 and ‘pay-to-play’ MMOs [to] show huge increases in Q3,” she argued. But then again, even WoW is in gradual decline.
I know there are plenty of MMO veterans who are more than willing to pay subscriptions in 2018 – I’m paying one right now. But that’s different from whether you believe they still work for new games or have enough appeal to make subs truly viable. Can a sub still work for MMORPGs in 2018?
SuperData published its January recap of the worldwide digital games market this week, and the analytics firm doesn’t have much good to say for sub MMOs. “Continuing their decline, the Social and Pay-to-Play MMO segments shrank 5% and 9%, respectively,” it notes.
There hasn’t been much shift at all on the PC revenue side, with the top 7 games remaining exactly as they were in December – including PUBG, Fortnite, and World of Warcraft. CSGO entered the list to displace ROBLOX and nudge down World of Tanks, and that was it – not much movement.
On console, Call of Duty: WWII continues to hold the top spot, but Monster Hunter World has joined the list and claimed #2 thanks to its launch last month. PUBG, interestingly, has completely vanished from the console side (it was #3) last month, but Fortnite continues its upward climb.
SuperData continues to express confidence in the future of virtual reality – however you want to label it. Last week, the analytics firm updated its paid paper on its expectations for the industry, saying it has “nowhere to go but up.”
“Driven by augmented reality and mixed reality and successful titles, the XR market will reach a combined $7.6B in 2018 across hardware and software,” the firm argues. Revenue from VR software in 2017 was just over half a billion dollars – 55% of which was from games, with Bethesda’s Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchisea earning the most. And that other 45%? “Developers are focusing most on fields like design, retail, and manufacturing despite an overwhelming demand for education and healthcare solutions,” says the firm, pointing out that the big VR money isn’t in making people smarter or healthier.
Readers will recall that SuperData called VR the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales at the end of 2016; that was followed by a NYT piece calling for “a reality check for virtual reality” just a year ago. Nevertheless, as of April 2017, SuperData was predicting a “steep rise” in VR adoption and $40B in revenue by 2020. The current report, however, suggests a combined consumer revenue for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality of just under $40B by 2021.
If you want SuperData’s complete 2017 Digital Games & Interactive Media market brief, you’re… not going to have to pay for it. It’s free, or at least the “executive summary” is, assuming you’re willing to put in an address to get it. Here are some of the more interesting highlights from the doc.
- MMORPG players, take note: Guild Wars 2 is included on the top 10 premium PC games by revenue for 2017. It’s at #8 with $87M.
- There are a few MMOs on the top free-to-play games by revenue for 2017 list too, including Blade & Soul, MapleStory, and Roblox. (We’re not quite sure why World of Warcraft isn’t on either list.)
- PUBG owned 2017 with $712M in revenue in less than a year – yes, more than Overwatch, Destiny 2, and Grand Theft Auto combined in 2017.
- A third of the world plays free-to-play games. That’s 89% of the revenue of the mobile and PC markets.
- Mobile isn’t dead; we spent $14 billion more dollars on mobile than PC last year than in 2016. Notably, a huge chunk of that money is funneled to just a handful of games – most of them in the east.
- E-sports is only getting bigger, with $756M in 2017 revenue.
You can take a peek yourself on SuperData’s site.