Electronic Arts revealed that Apex Legends was the most downloaded free PS4 game of 2019. That means it beat the tough competition from Fortnite to win the crown. The announcement caused a stir, but is Apex Legends really more popular than Fortnite?
A cultural phenomenon
Fortnite became a huge hit game when it launched in 2017. It attracted more than 125 million players in its first year, and digital revenue reached an unprecedented US$ 2.4 billion in 2018. SuperData revealed that the game had annual revenue higher than any other title in history. Leaving you ahead of Dungeon Fighter, League of Legends and Pokemon GO.
In early 2019, Fortnite was established as a cultural phenomenon, loved by rappers, celebrities and casual gamers. Then came Apex Legends to provide players with an attractive alternative. Critics liked their fast-paced squad game, elemental progression and compelling character base.
Apex Legends accumulated more than 25 million downloads in its first week and suddenly, Fortnite's obituaries began to appear. When the player count reached 50 million in a month, many commentators predicted that it would soon usurp Fortnite as the most prominent title in the battle royale world.
However, it didn't quite work out that way. Fortnite producer Epic Games was determined to overcome this challenger to his throne, and quickly announced a US$ 100 million investment in a series of professional Fortnite tournaments that would take place throughout 2019, culminating in the World Cup in US$ 30 million Fortnite.
Players realized they could become millionaires by playing Fortnite, and many returned to the game. The Apex Legends novelty disappeared a little, and Fortnite was back in the driver's seat. It received a huge increase in publicity after several teenagers actually made millions of dollars at the World Cup, and ended 2019 on a high.
An interesting fact, earlier this month, Epic announced that Fortnite now has more than 350 million registered players. This is approximately the population of the United States. There is no fear of its popularity waning, as it provided legions of fans with entertainment during the coronavirus blockade. In April 2020, players spent more than 3.2 billion hours in the game.
A game to master
Apex Legends simply cannot compete with Fortnite. The most recent milestone announced by Electronic Arts came in October 2019, when it revealed that 70 million people had downloaded the Apex. He was able to secure more PS4 downloads than Fortnite in 2019, because many people had already downloaded Fortnite before 2019.
It appears that Apex peaked a few months after its launch. It won 50 million players in one month and then took another six months to add another 20 million to that count. Electronic Arts probably would have revealed details of its player count in its recent financial update had it been close to fulfilling its initial promise and usurping Fortnite.
Apex Legends remains a popular battle royale title, and there is no denying its success last year. However, Fortnite is more popular than Apex Legends in all available metrics. Could that change in the future? At the moment, Fortnite has a dominant lead over its rivals in the popularity game, and its two closest opponents – PUBG and Apex Legends – have a lot of work to do to close the gap. However, Apex is a much more recent title than PUBG and Fortnite, and it still has a lot of potential for future growth.
It has not yet reached the lucrative mobile market. EA and Respawn have plans to launch the game for mobile devices, which represents a great opportunity. EA CEO Andrew Wilson said it would not be released until fiscal 2021. It starts on October 1, 2020, for the company, so we will have to wait and see success.
Fortnite and PUBG have enjoyed tremendous success on mobile, so Apex Legends should receive a significant boost as soon as it is available on these devices. It also needs to make a joint effort to break the Chinese market, where PUBG currently reigns supreme. It is yet to be released on Nintendo Switch – another successful area of Fortnite – so there are many new horizons for Apex Legends to explore.
A long battle ahead
Wilson confirmed that EA will invest considerable time and resources to ensure that Apex Legends enjoys a healthy future. “Apex Legends is a great long-term franchise for us. Since launch, we have significantly expanded the team that works on the game and continues to grow,” he said. “The Apex Legends community is growing, with more than 70 million players. We are focused on expanding to new mobile platforms and new geographies. In addition, we will launch a competitive Apex gaming program, which we will share details about soon.”
There is also a danger that Epic Games will become complacent. He has already shocked fans by abandoning plans for a Fortnite 2020 World Cup as a result of the coronavirus crisis, plunging the professional scene into chaos.
Games like League of Legends, CS: GO and Dota 2 have remained popular as a direct consequence of their success in the competitive gaming arena. It is interesting to see Fortnite hot and cold when it comes to esports. If you check out Fortnite bets here, you won't see many big tournaments on the horizon. Apex Legends has an expanding e-sports scene. It's actually been more profitable for players than Fortnite in 2020.
New rivals are forming, and the onus will be on Epic Games and EA to invest in securing the long-term future of their titles. Both companies are in strong financial positions. Fortnite and Apex Legends recently released patches with almost universal acclaim. This battle should continue for many years, and Apex Legends should have the opportunity to move forward in the future.