While battle royale games like “Fortnite” and “PUBG” continue to court their own successes, it appears the sheer magnitude of players they draw is having a halo effect on headphone sales. Or at least that’s what the head of Turtle Beach tells Variety.
“The business is doing really, really well and what’s driving that — beyond our strategy and being a good quality product — is the ‘Fortnite,’ ‘PUBG,’ and battle royale craze, which has introduced a bunch of new people into games,” said Turtle Beach CEO Juergen Stark.
Turtle Beach, which accounts for nearly 46% of the gaming headset market share, saw a 185% increase in net revenue over the same period last year, according to its first-quarter earnings report released this week. The company was selling so many headsets, Stark said, that it will be spending more than $4 million this quarter on air-freighting new stock into the country.
“We have pulled out all of the stops to catch up our supply,” he said.
The spike in second-quarter sales led the company to increase its forecast for both the next quarter and the year significantly. The news also more than doubled the company’s stock on Wednesday.
And Stark said he believes both the genre and its impact on things like headphones are here to stay.
“The [battle royale] games are a lot of fun, snackable, and have a lot of team play,” he said. “And it’s very clear to the players that playing these games with headsets provides a survival advantage because you can hear the audio cues better.”
Why is Stark convinced that it’s battle royale games that had such a massive impact on headphone sales?
“We’ve got sell-through data in models that go back years, and it is very clear that starting at the beginning of January that these two games had taken off on Xbox and PlayStation,” he said. “And it’s very clear it’s these two games that are driving a unique new phenomenon that is driving in new players and increasing headset use.”
Stark’s theory is that the games’ ability to attract a broader, new audience, their reliance on audio, and the fact that they are free to play combine to create an increased desire to purchase headphones.
“Because ‘Fortnite’ is free, there’s this opportunity to buy peripherals,” he said. “Instead of spending $60 on a game, they can spend $60 on a headset.”
While Turtle Beach has a long history of licensing its headset with game brands like “Call of Duty” or esports teams like OpTic, Stark said he’s not sure they’d go after such a deal with “PUBG” or “Fortnite.”
“Potentially we could, sure,” he said. “But the headsets are selling really well without any kind of license.”