When Electronic Arts' ($EA) Apex Legends launched on February 4, it was touted as the "Fortnite Killer." ($PRIVATE:EPICGAMES) A day into its release, it had 2.5 million registered users, and by the beginning of March, it had 50 million players. On Amazon ($AMZN) video game streaming website Twitch.tv, viewership for this game — a metric that coincides with a high active playerbase — was crushing that of Fortnite, the most popular game (and similar in design) at the time. Videogame industry analysts began to wonder if Apex Legends would dethrone the juggernaut that was Fortnite.
That all lasted less than three weeks.
Since the March 19, there hasn't been a single hour where Fortnite ceded to Apex on the Twitch charts.
Long before it hit its 50 million player mark and during the continued media frenzy of it being called a "Fortnite Killer," the free-to-play battle royale game was losing its Twitch crown to the genre's innovator and long-standing king.
And its metrics today still pale in comparison to those of Fortnite. Since the March 19, there hasn't been a single hour where Fortnite ceded to Apex on the Twitch charts.
Part of this is due to EA ending its multi-million dollar campaign to sponsor streamers to play its game on Twitch.tv; as soon as the money ran out for influencers and streamers, so too did viewership. Popular players such as Tyler "Ninja" Blevins — whose ability to carry a video game to the top of Twitch charts all by himself earned him a reported million dollar paycheck — went back to Fortnite after the initial tournaments and streaming deals ended.
The case for Friday Fortnite
Through data, we see that Fortnite isn't competing with direct rivals in the battle royale space, but rather against the top games in the world, such as League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
1. The $100 million Fortnite World Cup — also known as the largest esports event in the space's short history with the biggest prize pool ever seen in the industry.
1A. Popular streamers competing in Friday Fortnite, a non-developer tournament held by UMG Gaming and internet personality Keemstar. The prize pool for competing? $10,000 (and $10,000 given out to a lucky fan!).
At the beginning of the Fortnite World Cup's schedule, the two organizers butted heads over tournament timing. Friday Fortnite, which was around longer than the qualifier events, was losing competitors to the World Cup, as the developer-led event scheduled some of its events on Fridays. UMG and Keemstar soon held tournaments sporadically.
This past weekend, the World Cup left a Friday wide open and, fueled by FaZe Clan — yes, that FaZe Clan — Friday Fortnite returned with many of the high-viewership streamers competing against each other.
And that was, objectively, great for business.
As seen below, Friday Fortnite (held on May 31) brings in just as much viewers as a Fortnite World Cup Qualifiers (held on May 25-26 and June 1-2) with a lot less on the line.
The remaining open qualifiers for the World Cup are set to be held on weekends up until the beginning of July, when there is a month-long gap until the much-anticipated live World Cup Finals in New York City from July 26-28. The next few Fridays, however, are wide open.
While Epic Games did not appear cognisant of — or just didn't care about — the tournament before, the company may have realized the value of these grassroots and third-party organizers that come with their contact lists full of popular streamers. And, especially as other esports prepare for their world championships and other major events, Fortnite may still be the top game of the summer if the tournaments — and streamers — keep on broadcasting during the long weekends.