EA's 'Apex' is crushing 'Fortnite.' Here's what that means for video game stocks

In a surprise release, Electronic Arts launched its battle royale game "Apex Legends" earlier this month.

Within a week of its launch, its total player count topped 25 million.

That runaway success is reflected in the performance of the video game stocks. While EA is up 6 percent this month, Activision Blizzard has tumbled 10 percent and Take-Two Interactive has plummeted 16 percent.

Five experts weigh in on what this means for EA and the rest of the space:

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer says a short squeeze could be one of the driving factors to Electronic Arts' outperformance. "There's still a considerable short base that is built up on any mistake," said Cramer. "They came out with this multiple shooter game, and it's just so perfectly timed to destroy the shorts, but I think even they did not understand the propensity for people to want to play these games."
  • Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment, says volatile moves should continue as the market trades on video game releases and other announcements. "Look at the reaction of Electronic Arts. … They released the 'Apex' game and then the stock didn't react at all, no positive reaction. Two days later, the stock is back up above where it was when it reported," said Hickey. "The broader market in general has just a very reactive nature rather than trading on momentum."
  • Russ Frushtick, Polygon co-founder, sees one clear winner in the space. "EA has a good staple of franchises, and they're starting to pivot their strategy," he said. "They had some struggles with 'Battlefield,' which was their big shooter franchise this past fall, and now you're starting to see 'Apex' waking up to this, so I think they're in a much better position than Activision is, which needs to pivot way more."
  • "I think it's a great game, but if you look at the move in the stock, it might be too much, too soon," said Douglas Clinton, managing partner at Loup Ventures. "If you think about sort of an apples-to-apples comparison, the market might be valuing 'Apex' at $5 [billion] to $6 billion versus 'Fortnite' at $10 [billion] to $12 billion, and so it's moved. It looks like the market is expecting that 'Apex' is going to be this huge hit when it's really just started."
  • Jon Najarian, co-founder of Najarian Family Office, says get comfortable with major volatility in EA. "Electronic Arts has just been the most volatile stock of any stock in the market of big-cap stocks. This went from $90 to $78, screamed back up through $105, now it's breaking $100 again," he said. "Tencent, of course, has that ownership piece in Epic Games with 'Fortnite' so if they partner up with EA, this thing could reverse very quickly."

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Russ Frushtick as Tim O'Shea, Jefferies tech equity research analyst.

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Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

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