Battle royale gaming has taken the video game market by storm over the past few years. Online multiplayer survival games are expected to gross $20 billion in revenue by the end of the year.
Apex Legends is the newest addition to the free-to-play battle royale game scene, published by EA in February. After amassing millions of players within the first month, it seemed that the game was on the fast track to rival Fortnite Battle Royale, which had come to dominate the multi-billion dollar market of battle royale games since its release in late 2017.
An online poll by CivicScience of 6,540 U.S. respondents shows that as of March, Apex Legends had captured 4% of the surveyed population ages 13 and up, with an additional 3% planning to play the game.
In comparison, Fortnite holds 7% of the surveyed population, with a much higher level of awareness — 60% versus just about 25% for Apex Legends. That’s expected, given Fortnite has more than a year on Apex Legends.
We can see the steady growth in Fortnite’s awareness since CivicScience began tracking the game in April 2018 (red line), while gameplay numbers have remained fixed (yellow and blue lines).
However, it doesn’t seem likely that Apex Legends will follow the same trajectory or gain a share of players comparable to Fortnite. Recent reports warn investors that many Apex Legends players are retreating back to Fortnite and the game won’t likely bring EA the boon it was anticipating.
Fortnite VS. Apex Legends
The study looked at trends in gameplay between the two games. As of March, one quarter of Fortnite players said they also played Apex Legends and one quarter were not interested. At the same time, a surprisingly high number of Fortnite players (nearly 40%) had never heard of Apex Legends at all.
Flipped around, more than half of Apex Legends players also played Fortnite, while only 10% had never heard of it.
Digging into player attrition, CivicScience polled more than 4,000 Americans in early April, finding that 80% of the population said they’ve never played either game, while 20% have gameplay experience.
Results were mixed among those with Apex Legends and Fortnite gameplay experience. A small subset of respondents left Fortnite for Apex Legends entirely or reduced their gameplay: 30% say they play Apex Legends and stopped playing Fortnite and 15% say they play Apex Legends and play Fortnite less.
Teens are the Biggest Players
That’s not to say that both games offer the same exact kind of experience. Apex Legends is viewed by some as less approachable than Fortnite’s kid-friendly graphics. However, the data show that both games hold their greatest appeal among the under 18 crowd.
Apex Legends sees the most gameplay with teens under 18 years old, followed by 18-to-34-year-olds:
Of course, Fortnite takes a larger share of both populations, with a notable quarter of teens under 18 who play the game. However, the difference between teens and Millennials is proportionally similar to that of Apex Legends:
In other words, it appears that both games capture similar segments of the population, gender included. Men are about twice as likely to play either Apex Legends or Fortnite than women.
Despite tremendous growth upon release, Apex Legends seems to have settled into a niche following of players, poaching a small percentage of Fortnite players and sharing some others. However, that player base doesn’t stand out from Fortnite’s in terms of age and gender, and Fortnite still leads among battle royale royalty.