Here’s two billion reasons why mobile game publishers have been so aggressive about getting into the battle royale market, according to mobile market research firm Sensor Tower. It’s found that battle royale games have brought in more than $2 billion in less than two years on iOS and Android.
Fortnite may be a phenomenon, but it’s not the leader on mobile. Knives Out, a game from Chinese publisher NetEase, is the leader at more than an estimated $643 million global spending since its November 2017 launch. But it’s important to note that Fortnite isn’t on Google Play — publisher Epic Games offers its own Android launcher for this outside the Play store — and Fortnite isn’t in China. This is why Epic’s battle royale is No. 2 at $630 million in Sensor Tower’s estimates. PUBG Mobile comes in third at $439 million, with Garena Free Fire at fourth with $253 million and Rules of Survival at $97 million.
In the first quarter of 2019, Sensor Tower estimates that battle royale games brought in $476 million, with PUBG Mobile leading at $148 million (31%). And the research firm reports that this is a nearly 63% increase from the $91 million it tracked in the fourth quarter for 2018. Knives Out, Fortnite, and Rules of Survival all had negative growth in Q1 2019, Sensor Tower reports.
“There are a couple of key reasons why we’re likely seeing a decline in revenue for those specific titles. For one, the category is getting more crowded, and certain titles are naturally emerging as favorites among players,” Randy Nelson of Sensor Tower said. “Then, in PUBG Mobile’s case, for example, we’re seeing the result of their publishers finding the right formula for improving monetization, be it through limited-time events, battle passes, and other content they didn’t have in the earlier periods. Finally, there’s the simple fact that some titles are just declining in popularity. I’m not sure what you’re seeing on the PC/console front, but in the case of Fortnite, for example, we can tell that its popularity is waning on mobile through the decline in player spending we’re tracking.”
But this slow quarter could change as Game for Peace gains momentum for Tencent and if Fortnite launches in China by the end of the year.