Edior’s note: The Skinny blog is written by WRAL Editor and cofounder Rick Smith.

CARY – How hot is Fortnite? Try these numbers. And play on.

Epic Games and Fortnite have proved to be huge hits during the COVID-19 pandemic, generating more than 1 billion hours of streaming traffic. And as the pandemic has stretched on, the number keeps climbing.

So says UK-based SafeBetingSites.com in a new report.

Rick Smith, WRAL TechWire’s editor and a cofounder, writes The Skinny.

“Epic Games hit 1.25bn hours watched between January and September,” reports Jastra Kranjic.

“Statistics show the US video game publisher behind the worldwide gaming phenomenon, Fortnite, had 287.6 million cumulative streaming hours watched in the first quarter of 2020. By the end of March, this figure surged by 87% to 539.5 million. The third quarter of the year delivered a slight decrease, with the combined number of hours watched sliding to 426.9 million. Nevertheless, the figure represents a 48% jump compared to Q1 data.”

However, note the September drop. Is Apple’s ban hurting? More than 100 million players of Fortnite via Apple devices have been victims of the legal dispute between Epic and Apple. The plunge is the first hard indicator that the public has seen indicating just how much of an impact the Apple ban is having.

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The streaming success has come despite Apple banning Fortnite from its operating system. And Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney has warned that Apple’s move threatens the company’s existence. Don’t forget, Epic also is embroiled in another suit with Google.

The gaming trend is up

Fortnite already has helped make Epic Games, which is privately held, worth billions of dollars and driving hundreds of millions to play it with revenue projected to be in the hundreds of millions as well based largely on in-game sales of accessories.

The success is part of a global trend as video game sales, too, have soared in the pandemic. In August, for example, sales increased 37% year-over-year to $3.3 billion, says NPD Group. It was the fifth straight month of growth.

More success came in September. “Consumer spending across video game hardware, content and accessories reached $4.3 billion in September 2020, a 10% increase when compared to a year ago,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said, according to VentureBeat.

Take heart, Fortnite players: Game could be returning to iPhones

Streaming, too, has soared with new services since as Disney+ drawing millions of new subscribers while Netflix continues to roar. Consider these stats from Market.US to help put the Epic performance in perspective:

  • In COVID-19 situation, due to lockdown Internet users are spending 32% of their time on streaming devices and platforms.
  • As of July 2020, during COVID-19, 30% female and 33% male are spending more time on media streaming devices.
  • 54% of Internet users are watching more shows and films on streaming services due to COVID-19.

SafeBettingSites graphic

But despite the legal warfare that erupted this summer, Epic is No. 2 in streaming, trailing only Riot Games. Riot generated 2.3 billion hours of streaming.

The pandemic and its stay-at-home orders has helped drive interest in video games to higher levels with Riot and Epic alone generating 3.6 billion hours of streaming through Sept., SafeBettingSites reports.

The statistics come from Streamlabds and StreamHatchet data.

Most popular in terms of streaming was League of Legends from Riot followed by Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto.

SafeBettingSites graphic


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