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Fortnite just had its biggest day ever, 6 years in

The return of Chapter 1 draws record crowds

Characters dressed in various nostalgic Fortnite skins run through the original map in key art for Fortnite OG Image: Epic Games
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

A little over six years after it launched, battle royale sensation Fortnite just broke its all-time one-day player record — by going back in time. The launch of Fortnite OG, a special season which brings back the game’s original Chapter 1 map, drew an incredible 44.7 million players on Saturday, Nov. 4, who between them racked up 102 million hours of play. That’s according to a post on X (formerly Twitter) from the official Fortnite account.

According to live stats tracker, the peak number of concurrent players on Saturday was 6.2 million — the highest number by far since developer Epic Games made the live player count available earlier this year. This is much lower than the 12.3 million concurrent players Epic claimed for the “Astronomical” event with Travis Scott during the COVID lockdowns of April 2020.

The feat is even more remarkable when you consider that Fortnite remains unavailable on iOS devices, and only as a sideload via the Epic Games app on Android, due to Epic’s ongoing legal battle with mobile platform holders over their store fees.

What’s brought all these players back? Partially, nostalgia for five years ago. Fortnite OG recreates the game as it was as it was in July 2018 during Chapter 1, Season 5, Tilted Towers and all. The rest of OG will take an accelerated run through the rest of Chapter 1 at the rate of one or two seasons per week. Season 6 returns on Nov. 9, seasons 7 and 8 on Nov. 16, and seasons 9 and X on Nov. 23. There are also curated selections of “classic, mashup, and fresh” items available via the OG Pass and OG Shop. You can see the entire Fortnite OG season schedule with our dedicated guide.

Already, players are clamoring for OG to become a permanent mode for Fortnite, while Epic may be reconsidering running it as such a truncated season. Albeit in a different genre, with a different business model, Blizzard has had great success running World of Warcraft Classic in parallel with the modern game, although even Classic’s audience has split into two separate cohorts: those who stick to the original, classic era, and those who like to move through past expansions, just a little faster than the first time.

Fortnite has now joined WoW in proving that in the ephemeral world of online gaming, where nothing ever stays the same, nostalgic callbacks can be big box office. Even when the nostalgia they’re drawing on is for only five years ago.