Tag Archives: SuperData Research

SuperData and the Rise of Fortnite

As we roll on down to the final hours of February, SuperData Research has their digital revenue numbers for January available at last.

SuperData Research Top 10 – January 2018

The standard top four, League of Legends and the three Chinese MMORPGs, maintain their hold on the top of the list, with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fornite: Battle Royale and World of Warcraft hanging on to the next three slots as they did in December.  The only change was CS:GO popping up into 8th place, edging out World of Tanks while Overwatch hung onto the last spot as the cyclical ROBLOX dropped off yet again.

So not much change there, with PUBG and Fortnite holding on, having scavenged most of the remaining customers that H1Z1 was living off of.

It is on consoles where the battle between those two continues.  In December PUBG jumped onto the list, taking third position with its release on XBox, while Fortnite lingered down in eighth.  With the coming of January though, Fortnite, available on both XBox and PS4, rose in the ranks as PUBG disappeared from the list.  The questions is, will Fortnite’s edge on consoles help it overtake PUBG on the PC as well?

Also missing from the console list is the much beleaguered Star Wars Battlefront II.

And over on the mobile list my two touchstone products, Candy Crush Saga and Pokemon Go, made the list at fourth and tenth place.  Not bad in such a crowded market.  Meanwhile Lineage M, the big mobile money maker for NCsoft these days, remained on the list, though it dropped two spots.  Since that appears to have scavenged a big segment of the legacy Lineage user base, long the company financial bedrock, I hope that the mobile version holds on for their sake.

SuperData and the Curious Case of the Missing WoW Money

SuperData Research released its 2017 report looking at how much money was spent on video games, sliced up into different segments.  You can download the report from them, it is free, unlike some of their other reports.

Yes, I know, SuperData’s numbers are flawed, though probably not in the way you think.  As a market analysis firm, they have relationships with the companies on which they report.  They are not some group of rando outsiders om Spokane making wild guesses by looking at Steam charts and trying to get data out of the App Store.  They get financial information directly from most of the companies they track.

The companies cooperate because there is a quid pro quo in play.  SuperData only covers a limited number of companies generally, but those companies tend to be publicly traded… or have aspiration to go public some day… or are in bed through licensing with another company that is public… and they want analysts to say nice things about them because that may boost their valuation and, thus, their stock price.

The flaw in the data often comes from what the companies choose to give analysts and how they package it.  I speak from experience on this.  I recall one year the marketing director at a company coming to me to ask me about what new features we were working on for our main product.  He was working on our annual puff piece for Gartner to tell them how great we were.  So I listed out the key items from the road map and he gave me a sour look and said that we told Gartner we did all of that last year or the year before, he wanted something new!

So yeah, the analyst is only as good as the data they get, and companies will lie… though when it comes to financials, they can’t make stuff up if they’re a public company.  They can, however, withhold data or refuse to break things out in a way that the analyst would want.

All of which brings us back to SuperData and their 2017 report.  They have several nice charts which, unlike their monthly reports, have dollar amounts attached.

SuperData 2017 Mobile Market Chart

There is a lot of money in mobile games.

Then there is the free to play PC games chart.

SuperData 2017 F2P PC Games Market Chart

League of Legends dominates that with over $2 billion in revenue in 2017, something I am sure Tencent wants its institutional investors to know.  But the low end of that chart is a lot lower than the low end of the mobile chart.

Then there is the Premium PC chart, the traditional “buy the box” model, though the top end of the chart has DLC and other additional revenue streams.

SuperData 2017 Premium PC Games Market Chart

Hey, look, Guild Wars 2!  Shipping a new box in 2017 no doubt helped them to get there.  Also, you can probably go back and look at the first three quarters of earnings reports for NCsoft in 2017, add up the GW2 revenues on those, subtract that from the number on the chart, and have a good guess at what the Q4 number will be. (Should be about 46,560 on the GW2 section of their usual chart, which is measured in millions of South Korean Won, if I calculated that correctly. That would be a big boost from Q3.)  If that is on the money, then there is only one possible source.  And if it is different… well, then we’ll have some evidence of something else.

I am dubious about Minecraft. That seems like a lot for just the PC market, though that may be because I focus on the Java Edition, which is its own beast.  The other, unified cross platform edition has all sorts of DLC, even on Windows 10.  And, again, who knows how Microsoft packaged up the data.  They might have said, “This is the Minecraft number,” declining to break it out.

And, finally, there is the consoles chart.

SuperData 2017 Console Games Market Chart

Consoles seem to be about shooting people and playing soccer.

There are no billion dollar earners on either of those last two charts.  GTA V on console is worth a quarter of League of Legends when it comes to annual revenue in 2017.  Then again, half a billion dollars is still nothing to sneeze at, and it is a hell of a lot of money for a game that shipped on consoles back in 2013.  But, then again, League of Legends showed up in 2009, so being new doesn’t have much to do with revenue I guess.

Anyway, interesting charts to look at and compare.  Each of the numbers are probably true in the right context, but the chances of us knowing that context is pretty slim.

But in looking at all of that, there was a glaring omission in my book.  World of Warcraft is nowhere to be seen.  After all, it has appeared on every monthly SuperData chart in 2017.  Why would it not appear in the final report?

My first thought was that it just didn’t fit nicely into any of the categories.  And I suppose that might be the case, but I doubt it.

My gut says that Blizzard wants it this way.  As noted above, analysts are at the mercy of those providing the data, and I think the only way that SuperData would have skipped WoW is because Blizzard held back that data or told them they couldn’t use it in a publicly available report.  I back this up with how Blizzard has tried to obscure information about WoW in their financial reports.

At first that was because of the subscription drop panic.  But later, when it became more thorough, I began to suspect another reason.

I think that this is all because Blizzard is trying to remove the idea that the company is dependent on WoW for the bulk of their revenues.

There was a time when that was the case, when it was WoW paying the bills and a few people buying Diablo II or Warcraft III battle chests bringing in what amounted to some spare change.  But Blizzard has moved on from then.  As noted in the past, BlizzCon is now about more than just WoW.

When WoW went through its post-Warlords of Draenor subscriber dump, I think Blizz realized that they needed to shed the image that Blizzard = WoW and nothing else.  They don’t want people to think that if WoW dies, Blizzard dies.

As part of that Blizzard began to pay a lot more attention publicly to the other titles in its catalog, which has expanded quite a bit since 2008 or so, when WoW was pretty much it.  So in the charts above you see Hearthstone in free to play and Overwatch in premium PC games.

But you don’t see WoW, not because it didn’t make enough money to place, but because Blizz doesn’t want that to distract from its other titles.

I also think this is the reason that WoW got split into East and West earlier in the year, so that other Blizzard titles would be seen to have passed WoW.  That wasn’t some rando analyst choice.  Analysts don’t do that, they like their data to be consistent over time.  That gives it a greater sense of validity.

And I know WoW would make the charts.  We can derive that from past data.  Throughout 2017, World of Warcraft was on every SuperData monthly chart, and for 10 out of 12 months it was ahead of World of Tanks, which did make the chart.  WoW was also ranked ahead of World of Tanks at the first six months of 2017 summary from SuperData.

So I think we can safely say that WoW made more than World of Tanks, which itself brought in $471 million according to the charts above.  And WoW making even a dollar more than that amount would put it well ahead of Overwatch ($382 million) and Hearthstone ($217 million), the next two highest earners in the Blizzard stable.

We don’t know how much World of Warcraft actually made in 2017, but it was likely in excess of half a billion dollars, and could be a decent chunk more than that.  I could probably find out if I wanted to spend two grand on SuperData’s MMO and MOBA report, but I am not so inclined. Still, even my guess is not bad for a game from 2004.

And it seems likely that WoW will pop up a bit in SuperData’s monthly charts for January and February with the Battle for Azeroth pre-orders having hit on Tuesday.  The payment system was bogged down from the effect of people trying to throw money at Blizzard.

So World of Warcraft isn’t dead.  It isn’t even resting really.  It seems to me to be more a matter of Blizzard having the problem in not being able to create something to surpass WoW.   So rather than submitting their other titles to that measure, they’re trying to hide it.

Anyway, that is my working theory.

Meanwhile, a bonus chart from the report, and one I am sure Blizzard really likes, the esports viewership.

SuperData 2017 esports Viewership Chart

The measure on that chart is “average monthly unique viewers” for 2017.

(Also, as a side note, they chopped the market up into Twitch 54%, YouTube 22%, and everybody else making up 24%)

Blizzard likes that chart because Heroes of the Storm gets a mention, and it is the only place it is likely to get one.  StarCraft II is also there.  But Heroes of the Storm gets barely a tenth of LoL’s viewership, and less than a quarter of DOTA 2’s.  More interesting is that it also only gets a quarter of Overwatch’s viewership and less than 20% of Heros of the Storm’s viewers.

StarCraft II, son of the original esports champion StarCraft, seems a bit sad down at the bottom of the list.  But Blizzard does have four games on the list (and WoW isn’t one of them) which added together, had more average viewers than League of Legends.  Not bad.

Also, Hearthstone is Blizzard’s most popular esports game.  Imagine that!  We’ll see if the whole Overwatch league changes that in 2018, but for now that is how it stands.

SuperData Shows PUBG Slipping on PC but Gaining on Consoles

SuperData Research released their numbers for December 2017.

SuperData Research Top 10 – December 2017

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which was in second place on the PC chart for November, slipped down to fifth place.  Still, anybody who can say, “Made more money that WoW this month!” is probably not going to complain too loudly.  And they can always point to the console chart where PUBG made it up to third position via its release on XBox.

That move saw the Chinese trio of Dungeon Fighter Online, Crossfire, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II return to slots 2, 3, and 4, with League of Legends undisturbed in first place yet again.  Some day it will fall.

Fortnite, having dropped all that co-op game play that was their initial pitch to jump on the Battle Royale bandwagon, jumped to sixth place, above WoW, which held on to seventh position for another month.

World of Tanks moved up to eighth, while Roblox and Overwatch returned to the bottom list.  Displaced from the PC chart were Destiny 2, Call of Duty: WWII, and Star Wars Battlefront II, which were 6, 8, and 10 on the list last month.

On the console list, as noted, PUBG arrived on XBox and vaulted into third spot, while Fortnite, which came to consoles the month before, held on to eighth position.

And on the mobile chart Pokemon Go made it back onto the list, slotting into ninth, while Candy Crush Saga held on at sixth position.

Other items from the monthly report:

  • Global digital games market saw an incredible holiday quarter, up 19% from 2016.
  • Worldwide digital spending grew 17% in December. Gamers spent almost $10 billion digitally on games across all platforms in December. Growth came primarily from an increase in Premium PC, Console, and Mobile.
  • Destiny 2’s new DLC release, Curse of Osiris, failed to make a significant impact on the game. MAU and digital revenue were generally flat month-over-month.
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds’ success continues and competitors respond. XBox owners waited patiently for PUBG to make its way on console and responded by buying more than 2 million digital units during launch month. Meanwhile, mobile PUBG clones Knives Out and Rules of Survival both have had successful launches.
  • Call of Duty WW2 ended the year on a high note. The new Call of Duty had the best quarter of digital unit sales ever for a console title.
  • Grand Theft Auto V set another record month. GTA V Online broke its previous revenue record back in June 2017, making it the title’s best month to date for its multiplayer segment.
  • Fortnite Battle Royale earned $89 million in December.  Epic Games’ entry into the Battle Royale arena continues to reach new heights on both console and PC, with a close-to-even audience split on both platforms.

SuperData Shows PUBG Holding in PC Market

I have been waiting for SuperData Research to do their monthly chart blog post, but I guess they were serious when they said they were going to take the last two weeks of the year off.

So no post with supplementary data.  They did tweet the November 2017 chart before they went on their break, so I might as well put that up.

SuperData Research Top 10 – November 2017

On the PC side of the chart League of Legends remains glued in first place while PlayerUnknown’s Battleground held on to the second spot.  Not bad for a $30 game.  After reaching fourth place in October Destiny 2 dropped two spots, placing it just ahead of World of Warcraft which remained in seventh.  Call of Duty: WWII broke into the list at either, displacing World of Tanks, while Star Wars Battlefront 2, whose business model garnered so much attention last month, took the final position for November.  I expect those two EA titles will rise when we get the December chart.

On the console side of things Call of Duty: WWII topped the chart, displacing FIFA 18, while Star Wars Battlefront 2 grabbed third.   Meanwhile Fortnite: Battle Royale … I guess that whole co-op idea the started with is dead if they’ve put “battle royale” in the name now… made its way into eighth place.  It will be interesting to see if its rival, PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, which hit XBox One this month, will top it on the next chart.

On the mobile side Candy Crush Saga remained on the chart, popping up from ninth to fifth place.  More interesting to me is NCsoft’s Lineage M and Lineage 2 Revolution on the chart.  As we saw on the last NCsoft financial statement, mobile is taking off for them.  It makes you wonder if they might want to dump that whole MMO genre now that mobile is bringing in more revenue than any of their PC titles.

SuperData Shows PUBG Continuing its Meteoric Rise

SuperData Research is out with their digital market sales numbers a bit late this month.  They have been busy writing editorials about the Star Wars Battlefront II fiasco and what comes next.  But, finally, we have the numbers for October here on the last day of November.

SuperData Research Top 10 – October 2017

On the PC side of things PlayerUnknown’s Battleground continues its ascent.  Last month it was in 4th place, now it has risen to 2nd position, with only League of Legends ahead of it.

Destiny 2, new to the PC chart, hit 4th spot, injecting itself in the midst of the perennial top performers in the Chinese market, Crossfire, Dungeon Fighter Online, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online IIMiddle-Earth: Shadow of War also gained a spot on the list while ROBLOX returned to the top ten as well.

This left World of Warcraft and World of Tanks in 7th and 8th position and knocked DOTA 2 and Overwatch off the list.

On the console side FIFA 18, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, and Destiny 2 grabbed the top three spots.  Last month it was Destiny 2, FIFA 18, and NBA2K18.

And on the mobile side Candy Crush Saga stayed on the list hanging on in 9th position.

Other bullet points from SuperData’s monthly update:

  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds sells another 5 million units.
  • PUBG vs Fortnite. While Fortnite has seen a higher out-of-the-gate active user base thanks to its F2P status, the game’s long-term success vs. its major and earlier-released rival is uncertain.
  • PUBG comes to XBox One as an exclusive and leaves Steam Early Access in December.
  • Destiny 2 has a solid release on PC. Destiny 2’s much-anticipated Blizzard Battle.net PC launch proves very successful.
  • Super Mario Odyssey launches on Switch. Mario sold 191,000 digital units in October, making it the biggest digital launch on Switch to date. However, digital download rates continue to lag compared to those found on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
  • Single player games still have legs. While multiplayer-centric genres (FPS, MOBA, and Battle Royale) are in the spotlight, there is still room on the stage for single-player focused games. In October, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and Assassin’s Creed: Origins collectively generated over $160M through digital full game sales. However, we don’t expect these games to have as much success in the long run, compared to the multiplayer genres, as it is generally harder to monetize through microtransactions in a single-player focused title.

SuperData Research says Destiny 2 Killed on Consoles and PUBG Continues to Advance

It is that time of the month again when SuperData Research gives us their digital revenue numbers for the preceding month.  Now we can see what they had to say about September.

SuperData Research Top 10 – September 2017

Last month saw PlayerUnknown’s Battleground pass World of Warcraft on the revenue chart.  This month the popular battle royale title rose another notch, hitting fifth place and knocking longstanding top five title Crossfire down a peg.  World of Warcraft remains in sixth place while Divinity: Original Sin 2 broke into the list at number eight, suggesting that single player games might be more viable than EA seems to think.   That move pushed both Overwatch and CS:GO down a slot and left DOTA 2 off the list.

On the console side Destiny 2 topped the list.  The title just launched on Windows this week and will surely be on the PC top ten chart for October.

And then on the mobile end Candy Crush Saga moved up from ninth to sixth place while Pokemon Go fell off the chart again.

Finally, items noted on this month’s report:

  • Digital games revenue grows 15% worldwide in September. Players spent $8.3 billion across console, mobile and PC in September, up from $7.2 billion in the same month last year. Growth was underpinned by a 25% jump in console digital revenue on the back of rising download rates for new releases such as Destiny 2. This more than offset a double-digit declines in pay-to-play and significant drop in social revenue.
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds has overtaken two titans of PC games—World of Warcraft and Crossfire—in September revenue.
  • Destiny 2 has the largest digital launch ever on console. Destiny 2’s highly-anticipated launch resulted in digital unit sales up significantly from Destiny 1 back in September 2014. This marks a new record for the most digital units sold by a console game within a single month, edging out the previous record holder Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
  • FIFA and NBA 2K continue to expand their reach with new releases. The sports franchises show little signs of slowing down. FIFA 18 console digital units came in significantly up from FIFA 17 last September despite a later release date this year, while NBA 2K18 console sales also saw a healthy jump.
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 builds on success of single player PC games. Larian Studio’s new RPG sold an impressive 660,000 digital units on PC during its launch month. This places it among other recent successful single-player-centric games such as Nier: Automata and Horizon Zero Dawn.

SuperData Research says PUBG Passed WoW for August

As the month of September rolls to a close it is time to see what has changed on SuperData Research’s digital revenue charts for August.

SuperData Research Top 10 – August 2017

On the PC side of the house League of Legends remains nailed to the top of the chart while Dungeon Fighter Online and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II swapped spots since last month and Crossfire remained in its 4th place position.

New to fifth place this month is the ever exploding PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which passed World of Warcraft, pushing it down into sixth place.

After that World of Tanks stayed in place, Overwatch moved up a spot, DOTA 2 fell from eighth to tenth, and CS:GO climbed back onto the chart, pushing ROBLOX back off the list.

At the other end of the chart the only mobile games I pay attention to remained solid, with Candy Crush Saga holding onto ninth place again while Pokemon Go jumped up from seventh to fifth position.

Other notes from the SuperData blog post, consolidated to reduce redundancy:

  • The worldwide digital video games market grew 11% year-over-year in August to $7.9B. The premium PC segment shrank 10% year-over-year, despite PUBG’s breakout success, due to tough comparisons against No Man’s Sky release, World of Warcraft: Legion expansion launch, and Overwatch’s first event and new map last year. Social and pay-to-play MMO segments continue to decline at a rate of 4% and 25% respectively. Console and mobile grew 11% and 13%, respectively. The free-to-play MMO market was the big winner this month, growing 28% year-over-year, as more publishers and developers adopt this business model.
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds continues to dominate PC game sales, despite still being in Steam Early Access. PUBG is the number 1 premium PC game for the 3rd month in a row and has overtaken World of Warcraft on the total PC games list for the first time. Total life-to-date sales close to 9 million units through August
  • Hearthstone hits all-time revenue peak with Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. Blizzard’s CCG reached a new high this month. This marks a 15% increase over their previous peak.
  • Overwatch PC monthly active users reach new highs due to successive updates. On the back of a string of updates that introduced a new character, two new game modes, and the return of the “Summer Games” event, Overwatch recorded its highest MAU yet.
  • Madden NFL 18 sells over 220,000 digital units at launch. Sales were up compared to last year’s launch month units for Madden NFL 17. We also estimate modest additional content growth on the back of new in-game DLC packs available this year.