The videogame industry is cutthroat: You can create the greatest game ever made and someone  with a bigger budget and better marketers can come along, replicate your idea, and eat your lunch. Epic Games has found this magic equation with Fortnite, a game that has everyone - gamers and not - begging for invites just to give it a spin.

When Fortnite was released in July 2017, it didn't do much to move the needle for creators Epic Games. In fact, the game's first two months saw almost no traction in terms of hype. Although the game received positive reviews for its concept and visuals, it remained in the fringes as an also-ran. And then a new version called Fortnite: Battle Royale appeared in September 2017.

From that moment, the gaming world went into a hype frenzy.

We looked at traction for the title on, the game video streaming service bought by Amazon ($AMZN) last year for almost $1 billion. For those not in the know, Twitch features thousands of channels on which gamers stream their gameplay for others to watch. It’s massively popular, to the tune of more than 100 million users per month.

Looking at our Twitch data trails for Fortnite, we can see that prior to the release of Battle Royale, the game averaged around 100 channels at 8 pm EST daily, the service’s prime time. Once September - and Battle Royale - came around, the averaged over 1,000 channels and since then has only increased by multiples since. On March 18th at 8pm there were over 9,000 Fortnite channels on Twitch.

To gauge Fortnite’s current popularity in comparison to its competitors, we took a look at the average channel count of all titles on Twitch for March 21. Fortnite dominates with a game called Sea of Thieves a distant second, followed by Playerunknown's Battlegrounds (more on that at the end of this piece). As you see below, Fortnite's lead is massive.


Stream Count (Average)



Sea of Thieves




League of Legends




World of Warcraft


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive


Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege




Dota 2


The astronomical rise of Fortnite has forced other game developers to rethink their strategies. Since the rise of Fortnite, industry leader Activision Blizzard has lost $6 billion in value. Overwatch, Activision's most popular title on Twitch, isn’t even in the same ballpark as Fortnite with 6.72k fewer average channels on March 21

Are players churning from the well-known game titles and converting to the Fortnite craze? Only time will tell. Many of Activision’s titles such as Call of Duty are long established franchises that come in waves of popularity, with new waves sure to come. Gamers are a fickle bunch. But for now, Epic clearly has a winner on its hands.

So what is it Fortnite?

Fortnite is set on Earth during modern times. A massive storm has killed the majority of humanity and scores of zombie-like creatures are looking for a meal, aka people. Think of Fortnite Battle Royale as a large-scale, last man standing death match and you have a pretty good idea of what is happening in the game.

You and 99 other players are air-dropped onto a randomly generated map where scarce combat and defense items such as armor and weapons are scattered. Competitors must find the items and form strategies to achieve the mode’s main goal- be the last person standing. The result is a game that’s highly addictive and accessible.

Good artists copy; great artists steal.

So how did Epic Games come up with this revolutionary gameplay idea before all other video game companies? They didn’t. The game style was first popularized by another heavily played game: PlayerUnkown’s Battleground, which launched in March 2017 (see the chart above). 

But Fortnite adds an innovative mechanic: a crafting system in which objects in the game can be dissembled into their basic parts (such as wood, brick and steel) to create defense fortresses to protect themselves, adding a level of strategy that turns the game from a free for all into one that rewards creativity and thought. This minor change has allowed Fortnite to grow in leaps and bounds in comparison to its competitors.

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