On Saturday, April 11, 2020, #RIPFortnite began trending on Twitter. This came as a response to the supposed decline in streaming and viewership of Epic Games’s battle royale shooter, Fortnite. With the release of VALORANT catching the eyes of streamers and their audience, many believe that this could be the end of the title that has dominated the Twitch charts for nearly two years.
We wanted to know if Fortnite is actually on the decline and if the perceived changes of games like VALORANT chipping away at its share of the Twitch content production were accurate, so we dug into our data.
What does viewership look like on Twitch and Mixer?
Following its release in summer 2017, Fortnite climbed its way to the top of the charts, becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Its ability to appeal to a broad audience, allowed it to thrive in the online streaming space, making way for creators like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Turner “Tfue” Tenney.
While the game has consistently been among the top 5 most-watched titles on Twitch, data shows that viewership for the game has been steadily declining since the release of its third season back in 2018.
Reaching its peak number of content creators in early 2019, Fortnite’s viewership remained largely unchanged, experiencing surges of viewership throughout the year, showing no clear evidence of a fall off.
However, data from Mixer tells somewhat of a different story. With the exception of a significant uptick on May 26, 2019, where content creator David “TheGrefg” Cánovas Martínez broke a record by playing Fortnite for 140 consecutive hours, viewership has remained stable. Like Twitch, we consistently see spikes in viewership corresponding to the release of new seasons but with far less variance.
We see that Mixer makes up a small portion of total viewership when combined with data from Twitch, but is overall more consistent.
The role of seasons
It’s not surprising that games with regular updates, or “seasons,” see an increase in players and viewership following a new release, and the same goes for Fortnite. With every new season, viewership spikes and then trickles down slowly as the game reaches a new, stable state.
In its earliest seasons, we saw sustained growth as the game gained popularity. In fact, the game earned the most traction in its second and third seasons. Viewership patterns remained mostly unchanged until the later seasons of what would become known as chapter 1.
Toward the end of the tenth season, it appeared that the game was on an apparent decline. Eventually, Fortnite: Chapter 2 was released, which led to the largest number of viewers the game had seen in 2019.
On February 20, 2020, Epic released the second season of the latest chapter. And while both streamer count and viewership continue to hold steady during this period, there is no clear way to decipher whether it is due to the overall increase in users amid the COVID-19 pandemic or because players have genuinely taken an interest in the latest rendition of Fortnite.
Competitive titles and shared audiences
Fortnite has remained a top 5 title on Twitch for over two years, and the most popular in the battle royale genre, very few of its successors have been able to compete. With the launch of Electronic Arts’ Apex Legends in February 2019, Fortnite was dethroned for the first time, and while only temporary, it was glance at the future of the battle royale and gaming as a whole.
As the battle royale and free-to-play genres continue to evolve, the space is becoming more saturated with games trying to emulate the success of games like Fortnite. What seemed to be an unattainable feat for so long, now seems to be well within reach.
More recently, we see an example of this when the team at Infinity Ward and Raven Software released a free-to-play, battle royale expansion to their game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which launched in March 2020. Like Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone has become a direct competitor to Fortnite as the two continue to be some of the most-watched and played games across platforms.
What about VALORANT?
#RIPFortnite began trending following the success of Riot Games’ beta release title, VALORANT. A first-person tactical shooter, it is expecting its full release in summer 2020. While VALORANT does not fall under the battle royale umbrella and maybe shouldn’t even be classified as a direct competitor to Fortnite, the game’s success caught the attention of the gaming community and fans, averaging over 780K viewers at the time of writing.
While data shows that Fortnite has seen a decrease in both viewership and the number of streams in recent months, there is no clear evidence that any one game is responsible. As Fortnite’s current season approaches its end, data suggests that we will see the king of Twitch rise again, and even if Fortnite is dethroned, it’s not off any worse for it.
At Gamesight, we use data, like viewer engagement, to gauge performance and help games find commercial success. We have a host of features and internally developed metrics to help you find the best influencers for your game. If you’re a developer or publisher and want to talk about this article, identifying the right influencers, or measuring your advertising needs, please reach out on our website!
Note on data collection
Gamesight collects data on Twitch streams from Twitch’s public APIs that is used in conjunction with proprietary data and metrics developed from measuring and monitoring sponsored content from games that work with us.