The surging popularity of Epic Games' "Fortnite" will spur other major gaming publishers to add "battle royale" modes to their major franchises, according to one Wall Street firm.
"Fortnite" is one of the hottest pop culture phenomenons right now, attracting rap stars, top Twitch streamers and gamers alike. The title is surging online. Google search volume interest for "Fortnite" exceeded "Minecraft" in recent weeks.
Epic Games launched the free-to-play "battle royale" mode for "Fortnite" on computers and gaming consoles in September. This mode allows up to 100 online players to violently battle each other to the death until only one player survives.
Battle royale mode is also helping boost the popularity of "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" (PUBG), Piper Jaffray said. The style of play is what is attracting gamers, and rival publishers should have success winning over players by adding the mode to their own titles, the research firm said.
The firm's analyst, Michael Olson, said in the note that he expects battle royale mode to be added by the second half of 2018 or early 2019 to "most of these titles": Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty" and "Overwatch"; Electronic Arts' "Battlefield"and "Anthem"; and Take-Two's "Red Dead Redemption 2."
Olson said the major game companies' sales may be negatively impacted by a "low single digit percentage" in the first half of 2018 due to "Fortnite" and "PUBG." But he downplayed any larger effect because the core customers of these games tend to be younger than the average hardcore shooter gamer.
"We believe it is the 'mode,' not the game, that has attracted users to Fortnite and PUBG; we, therefore, expect major publishers to win back engagement as this style of play is included in their existing titles," he wrote.
The analyst reiterated his overweight ratings on Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard and Take-Two.