Home Blog 2019 NPD Games’ Leandro Foruria examines Battle Royale games, Fortnite and Apex Legend
May 13, 2019

It's a Battle Royal for Battle Royale Games

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Each quarter, I like to provide key takeaways on the gaming industry based on what I’m seeing in PlayerPulse, a tool within NPD’s GamePulse that provides a better understanding of core gaming audiences, what types of games they are playing, motivations, behaviors and preferences.

For this particular entry, I decided to crunch the data for an Apex Legends and Fortnite market comparison. 

While NPD also tracks the mobile version of Fortnite in PlayerPulse, Apex Legends is not currently available on mobile; so, for the sake of this blog entry, I’ll only address the PC/console edition of the games.

Apex Legends is the first game to really compete with Fortnite on the PC/console market since the first batch of Battle Royale games (PUBG, Fortnite, etc.) competed for dominance last year. But how do these two games compare across the user metrics we track at NPD? To keep things simple, let’s look at the most obvious metric: engagement (in this case, meaning PC/console gamers who have ever played the titles). Currently, Apex Legends sits at 12 percent engagement with our panel, while Fortnite sits at 34 percent engagement. That sounds like a significant difference, but keep in mind that Apex Legends is only two months into its lifecycle. When Apex Legends launched, we tracked it at 9 percent engagement. By comparison, when we first tracked Fortnite after the launch of its Battle Royale mode, only 2 percent of our panel had ever played it. This tells us there’s definitely a player base interested in Battle Royale experiences that simply didn’t exist before Fortnite, and Apex Legends has been able to capitalize on this to get off to a faster start than Fortnite did. This matches up to what Respawn has announced themselves. A month into launch, Apex Legends reached a player count of 50 million, a feat which took Fortnite over three months to achieve.

Apex Legends also has a more core audience than Fortnite, which has managed to attract a broader audience. Apex Legends gamers are more likely than Fortnite gamers to invest both time and money in the PC/console space. For example, 51 percent of Apex Legends players spend 11 hours or more on PC/console gaming than Fortnite players (38 percent), and 29 percent of them spend over $250 or more on gaming each year, compared to the 21 percent of Fortnite players. This difference is also reflected in the demographics of both games, including gender and age, with the majority of Apex Legends players being male, while Fortnite is more diverse in its gender split; and the largest age group for Apex Legends   gamers is 18-24, while Fortnite’s largest age group is 13-17. This matches up to the market for each title. Apex Legends is a PC/Console-focused shooter; there’s no entry point on mobile for the game like there is for Fortnite and PUBG (though EA recently mentioned “advanced negotiations to bring Apex Legends to China and mobile). Fortnite also has a more cartoony, colorful art style, while Apex Legends opts for a more realistic, militaristic look similar to Respawn’s previous game, Titanfall. So, for now, it looks like Apex Legends won’t be matching the overwhelming popularity of Fortnite, but rather has carved out a very invested and healthy segment of the Battle Royale market for itself at launch.

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