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‘Fortnite’ Might Be Cannibalizing Bigger Franchises (Analyst)

Epic Games’ popular battle royale shooter “Fortnite” is a gaming phenomenon, and its success might be shifting wallet share away from other top console franchises, according to a new analysis by market intelligence company SuperData.

Fortnite” launched in July 2017 and has dominated headlines in the months since. It’s played by more than 125 million people and has reportedly made over $1 billion in revenue in the last year. While some believe its success has helped the industry as a whole by bringing in new and lapsed gamers, SuperData said there is also a clear impact being felt across other top games.

There’s considerable overlap between “Fortnite” players and fans of other competitive games like “League of Legends,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” and “Overwatch,” SuperData said. These fans like to watch others play on sites like Twitch. But, online viewership in the second quarter reportedly fell for games like “LoL” (-19%), “CS:GO” (-51%), and “Overwatch” (-16%), while “Fortnite’s” online viewership rose 59%.

“Granted, some of these are highly dependent on tournaments and experience fluctuations around them,” SuperData said. “Esports-heavy titles draw much larger online audiences around and during events. But that does not negate the fact that a relative newcomer has successfully managed to push incumbent titles down the rankings.”

Meanwhile, total digital console sales for Sony and Microsoft are up 49% year-over-year compared to Q2 2017, SuperData said. Quarterly sales were up one percent compared to 7% for the same period last year. But, take “Fortnite” out of the picture, and that figure changes. Without it, SuperData claimed total digital console revenues in Q2 2018 would be down 6% year-over-year.

Game publishers are apparently adopting a “rising tide lifts all ships” philosophy when it comes to “Fortnite.” Recently, Activision Blizzard said its players “always come back to the franchises that are the foundation of the communities that they are a part of,” while Electronic Arts said “Fortnite” is “bringing younger people into the marketplace and younger people into first-person shooters.”

SuperData isn’t totally buying that line of reasoning, though. “Where previously no execs admitted to a loss in player activity or spending, it is increasingly clear that the newcomer is taking market share from existing titles, in addition to adding new players to the market,” it said. “After a period of growth, the market is set to return to its usual zero-sum dynamic. More so, instead of raising all the boats, several of the big tentpole titles are seeing a decline, suggesting that ‘Fortnite’ has been obfuscating a broader market correction among incumbent game makers.

“In the run-up to this quarter’s earnings cycle, we expect publishers to provide more detail on this as they have different degrees of exposure to ‘Fortnite’s’ success, especially those relying on revenue from multiplayer shooters and adjacent categories.”

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