It’s kind of crazy to chart the success of Epic Games’ Fortnite, especially after it had such an underwhelming start as a pure PVE experience which was later renamed Save the World. In the making for years, Save the World didn’t set the charts ablaze when it released. Seeing an opportunity after the rise of PUBG, Epic made Fortnite: Battle Royale, and the rest is history. Years later, how many people still play Fortnite?
Epic have been very conservative when it comes to releasing official figures in recent times, only mentioning specific landmarks of total players reached. The last official word on Fortnite’s playerbase came in August 2018 when it reached a peak of 78.3 million for the month. Since then, Epic have been quiet with regards to how many people still play Fortnite, but they did mention in March 2019 that they had 250 million total players. Between June 2018 and March 2019, 125 million players created Fortnite accounts.
In May 2020, Epic announced that Fortnite had a staggering 350 million registered accounts with players spending 3.3 billion hours in-game during the month of April 2020. Of course, the worldwide situation may have helped both these numbers, but there’s no baulking at such impressive figures.
It’s important to note, however, that that figure does not exclude secondary or spam accounts, though it’s still a significant milestone. With its significant pop culture status and the game’s free nature, Fortnite has become a game that many people have played. That doesn’t answer the question of who’s still playing the game, however.
How Many People Play Fortnite?
As mentioned, the peak playerbase for Fortnite was 78.3 million way back in August of 2018. This was when the game was relatively new to Switch and it was the holidays for school, meaning that younger players had all the time in the world to play.
Since then, player figures are hard to come across, but there are some in-game events that hint of the game’s continuing popularity.
In February 2019, popular EDM artist Marshmello held an in-game concert “played” by 10.7 million people. This overtook the previous record held by the rocket event of Season 4, which brought in 8.3 million players. On a similar note, the game enjoyed a peak player count for a non-event for a single day with 7.6 million players on February 16th, 2019. For comparison, the most popular games on Steam struggle to crack a million players for a day.
The game didn’t hit the heights quite like these until the black hole event at the end of what we now know as Chapter 1. It went down as the most viewed gaming event in history on Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter with a staggering 42.8 million views on the latter. YouTube numbers reached 4.3 million viewers and 1.7 million viewers on Twitch. Epic have not released official word on how many in-game players witnessed The End, however.
Staying on viewing figures, the video below shows how the game’s popularity has ebbed and flowed on Twitch since launch.
This is not a definitive sign of where Fortnite’s popularity is at now, but it’s interesting that it hit a high of 434,000 viewers on Twitch in May 2018 before a gradual decline. It stayed top on Twitch for viewers for almost a whole year before League of Legends reclaimed its throne.
Interestingly, Apex Legends’ sudden surge didn’t do much to dampen its viewers overall, with Fortnite briefly returning to the Twitch summit from March 2019 to July 2019.
Along with some declining Twitch viewership, Fortnite’s revenue has also taken a severe hit. Overall revenue in 2019 compared to 2018 saw a 52% decrease before Chapter 2 launched, though it did manage to bring a lot of it back later.
By the end of 2019, Fortnite made a staggering $1.8 billion, which is a mightily impressive number. However, it’s a significant decrease from the $2.4 billion it achieved in 2018; a decrease of roughly 25%. Chapter 2 and the bevy of Christmas skins and packs alongside the many brand deals may have been the one to boost its overall revenue.
However, it’s also important to note that, although there has been a dip in revenue, Fortnite’s popularity is still extremely strong. In 2019, Fortnite ranked #2 for the most downloaded F2P game on PS4, only ousted by Apex Legends.
Even more remarkably, the same blog lists the most popular paid DLC over the course of the year. Nobody even came close to matching Fortnite, which managed to snag every single ranking in the top ten.
There are a couple of possible factors to Fortnite’s declining revenues, the first being that 2018 was such an astounding success for the game that any subsequent years would struggle to match it. The second reason is that Fortnite skins aren’t quite as in demand as they once were, the competitive players favouring simple, basic skins over the flashy ones. With a lot of Fortnite players taking the game very seriously these days, it makes sense.
As expected for anything in the limelight for so long, Fortnite’s day-to-day popularity seems to have waned, but it’s still absolutely massive when it comes to hosting events, something that was proven by a Travis Scott concert held in April 2020.
While Epic don’t make concurrent Fortnite players a public statistic, the fact that so many people flock to witness its events suggest that there are still plenty of people out there who play Fortnite every single day.
The Future of Fortnite
With the launch of Chapter 2 bringing a whole new set of eyes on the game and also possibly bringing some old players back, the amount of people playing Fortnite is almost certainly still massive.
Any mention of Fortnite dying feels, really, just a bit silly, especially when it’s almost always in the top five most viewed games on Twitch even when other games have special events on and events like The End and concerts can bring in staggering viewing figures. Sure, it may never reach the same heights it did when Ninja played with Drake and the Twitch Prime packs were released, but Fortnite is more than alive and kicking.
No matter how many people hate it, Fortnite just cannot stop earning headlines. In January 2020, it was announced that it would become an official college eSport. Epic Games also announced that the Epic Games Store has enjoyed over 100 million users, suggesting that they are going to have whatever funds they need to keep supporting the game for years to come. That’s without even considering the proftit percentage they get from games that license their Unreal Engine. Epic are flush with cash.
As an interesting side note, if the Epic Games Store has 100 million users and Fortnite itself has 350 million registered users, that suggests the overwhelming majority of players play Fortnite on their console or mobile over PC.
Staying on the topic of consoles, Fortnite will be a launch title for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, meaning that it will be hitting yet another new platform. Adoption rates for the new consoles will likely be low to begin with, though as more people buy the new consoles, that will only make Fortnite’s player figures soar even higher.
It’s also worth remembering that Save the World, the PVE experience of Fortnite, has yet to go F2P as promised, so expect that to give Fortnite overall a huge boost when it does happen.
Epic Games don’t seem to be able to crack the biggest market on the planet, however: China. PUBG Mobile still reigns supreme over there with The End event not reaching as many players as it should have. If Fortnite can somehow crack China, that would see its numbers skyrocket once again, possibly even bigger than they were at Fortnite’s peak.
Fortnite is free-to-play on PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.