Fortnite may have been the most popular game of 2018, but it faced competition in the mobile space according to a report from analytics group Sensor Tower.
Knives Out, a mobile battle royale title from NetEase, reportedly made around $465 million worldwide. This beats out Fortnite’s mobile earnings of $455 million on iOS. Apparently, Knives Out also outsold PUBG Mobile in part because it can accept in-app payments from Chinese users, whereas PUBG Mobile cannot due to local regulations. In March of last year, the Chinese government began censoring the games market to "protect its own mass of players." This change hit PUBG Mobile publisher Tencent hard, with their stock dropping around 30 percent in 2018. While regulators are now approving licenses for some games, PUBG Mobile is not one of them.
Otherwise, Sensor Tower did not report on Fortnite’s Android profits, only iOS. This is likely due to Epic skipping out on the Play Store in favor of their own launcher.
Also, iOS players only accounted for 18% of revenue for Knives Out, with mostly Android players spending money in-game. That said, the iOS version still made $81 million, so that 18% is not insignificant.
Interestingly, Sensor Tower found that around 80% of the Chinese battle royale’s profits came from Japan. Neither Fortnite nor PUBG Mobile has established much of a player base there yet. There, gamers spent an average of $370 across both Google Play and the App Store. Conversely, U.S. gamers accounted for less than 1% of Knives Out’s revenue. This shouldn't come as much surprise considering mobile gaming is much more popular in other countries.
“To put this into perspective within the genre,” reads a post from Sensor Tower Founder Oliver Yeh, “this figure is more than 11 times greater than what the country’s mobile gamers spent in PUBG Mobile on both platforms during 2018. It’s so (sic) surprise, given this, that NetEase updated the game with a new Tokyo map in November—and its revenue has only been increasing since.”
This competition shows that Fortnite can’t take over the entire world. Of course, Epic’s hit is available on all platforms, so it’s still ahead of the pack by a long shot. The total revenue from those platforms must be mindblowing. But if you're tired of Fortnite, check out our video series exploring other battle royale games: The Royale.