Epic’s Fortnite Is Experiencing A Global Drop In Interest After Three Years

Epic’s Fortnite Is Experiencing A Global Drop In Interest After Three Years
Credit: Epic via YouTube

It seems it’s finally happening, and it may bring trouble to the Epic Games Store. Epic’s breakout hit Fortnite is starting to lose a bit of its steam after three years as an industry titan, bringing fame and fortune to vast quantities of people.  This isn’t to say that Fortnite is completely dead, either; it will likely retain a relatively strong userbase that many developers would do unspeakable acts to gain.  Yet it appears that the userbase is continuing to drop off despite chapter two of the series, which saw the most interest garnered in Fortnite.

Now, Epic would be shooting themselves in the foot if they released actual numbers in terms of server population, and monthly concurrent users that are likely to fluctuate, so we have to use a few tools to figure out precisely where Epic’s frontrunner stands.  First, we’re going to use Google Trends to prove that, undeniably, my claim that Fortnite is experiencing a global drop in interest is true.  You can check the data plot points yourself here.  Note that this is global; not localized.

Google via Google Trends

Google Trends works by comparing the maximum interest of a subject with the rest of the timelines interest; in the graph, we can see that October 2019 had the most users showing interest in Fortnite during The End event that marked the divide between map one, and map two.  After that spike, interest continues to wane over time alongside the previous downwards delineation, with a spike over Christmas break (December 8th through January 4th).

Now, it’s implausible to use these numbers to accurately judge what the Fortnite player base is, but we can get an idea of what the Fortnite numbers are; a ballpark, based on Google Trends and its declination over time.  It’s vital to note that these are not precise numbers; it’s fuzzy math that is entirely based on data points that have been dropped throughout time.

We know that on November 8th of 2018, Epic Games Korea gave an interview where Sung Chul Park (EG Korea spokesperson) announced that Fortnite had concurrent 8.3 million players, worldwide.

Assuming a form of parity between that data point then reported on Google Trends, and where Google Trends currently sits, we can do some bonafide fuzzy math.

On November 8th, 2018, Fortnite had a rating of 56 interest, with 8.3 million concurrent players.  The most recent data point for February 2nd through the 8th of 2020 has that ranking at 25.  Based on the total number of concurrent players reported divided by the IoT of Google Trends, we get the information that every data point results in (roughly) 148,214 players.  If we use that same math on the current date, that means that Fortnite currently has about 3,705,357 active players.

It’s not exactly rocket science here, as obviously before a player logs into Fortnite he won’t run a bunch of searches on it so Google can understand his interests more accurately (and thusly be used as fodder for articles), but even as fuzzy math, the data points might just be concerning to Epic.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that has been tracking Epic Games Store that they’ve struggled valiantly in terms of bringing players over to it.  Offering free games (allegedly by Epic purchasing them, which resulted in interestingly skewed numbers during reporting) and purchasing exclusive deals is frankly not a sustainable business model when the company continues to thumb their noses at their consumers.  If the Fortnite cash cow dies, Epic Games Store might just perish along with it.

Meaning the developers at GDC were right.

Now it’s important to note that these numbers may befuddle some; various accounts and publications have freely interchanged concurrent players and people that have ever played, and those erroneous reports muddy the waters a good bit when you’re searching for hard data points.  Various publications have reported that Fortnite has had anywhere from 140,000,000 players as recently as December, to 250,000,000 active players (the number that Epic stated as accounts that have played Fortnite).

Aside from Epic coming out directly and showing their daily and monthly server traffic along with Fortnite’s monthly active users, there is simply no way to precisely verify it.  It’s likely that even if Fortnite drops below millions of users, Epic will continue to nurture the blissfully profitable title, and has spawned a new interest in a genre of games that were otherwise less popular.

Interest, however, does continue to drop.