Newzoo’s Battle Royale Sentiment Study: Understanding the Phenomena and What Draws Players to Particular Franchises
In just two years, battle royale has ascended to mainstream popularity. With 41% of gamers in the U.S playing either Fortnite, Apex Legends, or PUBG in May 2019, categorizing battle royale as a separate genre to shooter appears justified. At the same time, it seems that each title is successfully developing and fostering its own community. This has resulted in many battle royale games having more overlap with non-battle royale titles than with titles within the genre.
While high-level data on the performance of key titles is readily available, franchise loyalty, future expectations, what made people start or stop playing, and what players like most about each franchise is less known. An analysis of these factors is an important piece of the puzzle for the future of battle royale as a genre.
This is why, together with some of our key clients, we set out to perform a syndicated Gamer Sentiment Study on battle royale. The study also includes a deep dive into the viewing and streaming habits of consumers, as well as their feelings about cross-platform play.
Hardware also plays a key role in the genre’s success story, with the arrival of battle royale sparking an unmistakable boom in hardware sales and adding approximately one billion dollars to gaming peripheral revenues alone — all in just one year. The study profiles these “new” hardware buyers and highlights the brands that benefited most from them.
The study was carried out in May 2019 in the U.S, Germany, and China, focusing on a nationally representative sample of game enthusiasts, sourced directly from our Global Gaming and Esports Panel™ . While Apex Legends, Fortnite, PUBG, and PUBG Mobile were the core focus, we also included other non-battle royale franchises that were impacted by the surge in battle royale engagement, including League of Legends and Overwatch. In this article, we’ll provide high-level insights from the study, with a focus on the U.S. market.
Battle Royale an All-Round Entertainment Phenomenon in the U.S.: Takes the Market by Storm for Playing and Viewing
Despite battle royale rising to prominence so recently, Fortnite, PUBG, and Apex Legends — a relative newcomer at time of the study — are indisputably three of the biggest games on the market right now. Each one of these franchises regularly holds a spot on our Most Popular Core PC Games Ranking and our Most Watched Games on Twitch & YouTube Ranking.
In fact, more than two-fifths of all U.S. gamers are an active battle royale player (played one of the three franchises above in the past month), with 71% playing mainly on console, 17% on PC, and 12% on mobile. It is also worth noting that 56% of active battle royale players have at least tried a battle royale game on two or more platforms. This is no surprise, as Fortnite allows one user to use the same account/save across multiple platforms. Another factor is PUBG Mobile, which has recently seen a surge in players from Western territories.
What’s more, 15% of U.S. gamers are churned battle royale players who intend to play the genre again in the future. This means that there is a deep pool of potential players at the ready for any new publisher looking to release a battle royale game or — of course — current battle royale publishers looking to win back lost players.
Battle royale players in the U.S. are also among the most engaged when it comes to watching video-game content, with more than half having tuned in to battle royale video content in the past week. A significant 21% spends at least an equal amount of time watching compared to playing, illustrating the genre’s impressive viewability.
Some of the world’s top streamers — including Ninja, Shroud, Tfue, and Dr Disrespect — predominantly play games in the genre. Needless to say, this is an ample opportunity for brands to tap into young, hard-to-reach demographics.
Battle Royale Players Are Loyal to Single Franchises but Are Far from Monogamous
In the U.S., the majority (59%) of battle royale players are loyal to just one franchise in the genre. Often, that franchise is Fortnite. More than half (53%) of active Fortnite players claim that Fortnite is the only battle royale game they actively play. Still, there is plenty of crossover, with 16% of U.S. key franchise players actively playing all three franchises and 12% playing both Fortnite and Apex Legends.
Each Key Battle Royale Franchise Attracts Gamers for Different Reasons
While Fortnite, PUBG, and Apex Legends all fall under the battle royale umbrella, they each have some major mechanical differences. Apex Legends is extremely fast-paced and features character shooter mechanics like Overwatch’s; PUBG is a more realistic, survival-based game; and Fortnite’s niche is its ever-evolving map, variety of game modes, and focus on social play. These differences are reflected in the demographic make-up and drivers of each game’s fans.
In Germany, the U.S., and China, those who actively play Fortnite tend to value in-game social activity, whereas Apex players like the title’s pacing and PUBG players enjoy team cooperation.
Zooming back in on the U.S., players of each franchise have different platform preferences. The majority of Fortnite players, for example, play on console. Fortnite’s suite of cross-play functionality, allowing Xbox One players to play with PlayStation 4 players, likely plays a massive part in this skew toward console. Meanwhile, Apex Legends and PUBG skew more towards PC and mobile, respectively.
The full study zooms further into these points across all three markets, diving into what drives different segments of gamers to stop, start, or switch, what elements draw them to a specific franchise, where their loyalties lie, and what they expect — and more importantly, want — for the future.
Newzoo’s Gamer Sentiment Study on Battle Royale Now Available
Are you an IP owner or publisher looking to leverage the success of battle royale? Or are the genre’s players a key target group for your brand? Look no further than our annually recurring Gamer Sentiment Study, which gives you access to data on 100+ topics in our online analysis tool. Subscribers also receive a 30-page summary report outlining actionable insights from the study.
Get access to this study by getting in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.