Fortnite reached a new high for current players, according to Epic Games.
Epic confirmed that the game reached 7.6 million concurrent players on Saturday, Feb. 16, a non-special-event record for Fortnite. The record comes one week after a Marshmello concert event in-game garnered over 10.7 million players — which doesn’t include Twitch viewers. The game has averaged around eight million players for past in-game special events.
The most surprising thing about Fortnite’s new record is when it happened. There was no big patch or surprise on the map to draw players. Nothing noteworthy was happening at the time in-game. It was a regular day.
This news comes at a contentious time in the battle royale landscape. Earlier this month, Respawn Entertainment released Apex Legends out of nowhere. The game took everyone by surprise and soared to 10 million total players in just three days, a milestone that took Fortnite several weeks. Another metric that drew direct Fortnite comparisons were Twitch streaming numbers, which have had Apex Legends taking over Fortnite’s top spot for most of February.
It does seem that the battle royale space is more than big enough for both games. With Apex Legends’ remaining on top of Twitch, and Fortnite hitting new record highs in players, it’s possible the battle royale genre is popular enough for more than a few games. Just a week ago another series joined the genre when Nintendo announced, and released, Tetris 99. This, too, has climbed up the Twitch ranks.
Even with all of these battle royale games finding success at the same time, this new record is a reminder of how ubiquitous Fortnite has become in culture. While games like Apex Legends may be dominating on Twitch, Fortnite has gone from the popular game of the moment to something like Minecraft, that’s simply present everywhere you look.
Fortnite is on just about every device you can think of. With the smart phone version, people can play the same version they have at home, anywhere. Fortnite also continues to dominate on YouTube, where the demographics can skew toward younger fans (who might not engage with the game on Twitch). The game is featured on the physical boxes of consoles and there are entire sections in bookstores dedicated to Fortnite. Kids do the dances — both original and ... less original — wandering around with their friends while professional athletes use them to celebrate touchdowns and goals.
As for the Marshmello concert that Epic held earlier this month, it’s hard to say how large the effects might be. Hosting an in-game concert is an achievement on its own, but hosting anything that draws over 10 million viewers at once is something entirely different and more impressive. Its success may herald a new age for Fortnite, where it evolves from being a battle royale shooter into a social gathering space (that also happens to have a battle royale shooter).