Fortnite and Minecraft are two of the biggest games in the world, only in very different ways.
Over the past year on Twitch, Fortnite has enjoyed the most stream time, the most streamers, the highest number of average viewers and the highest number of average channels – it is, by all accounts, the biggest game in the world right now.
Minecraft, on the other hand, doesn’t appear in the top five for any available metric in the same time period – but it is the best-selling video game of all time, having surpassed 176,000,000 sales in May 2019.
Since mid-July, Minecraft has overtaken Fortnite in several metrics, including total video views. Having been on a steady shallow decline since 2017, there has been an uptick in Minecraft-related videos since May 2019.
Conversely, there has also been a downturn in Fortnite-related activity. According to SullyGnome, there has been a 21.9% increase in Minecraft videos in the past 30 days, compared with a decline of 23.9% in Fortnite videos.
There isn’t one single reason for this change, but rather several interlocking reasons.
The PewDiePie Effect
One of the biggest reasons – if not the biggest – for Minecraft overtaking Fortnite is a large shift in the influencers of both games.
PewDiePie, the most-subscribed solo YouTuber in the world, uploaded a Minecraft video on June 21st. This was not his normal content, but many of his fans had been wanting him to play Minecraft for some time. Due to such a positive reaction, the majority of his content has been dedicated almost exclusively to Minecraft since then, which means that many of his viewers have flocked to the game.
Unwelcome Changes to Fortnite
Fortnite’s 10th season began on 1 August, and there was a huge backlash from the more competitive faction of players, including several key influencers. The backlash stemmed from the addition of BRUTE mechs, a new antagonistic force within the game that proved to be notoriously difficult to beat.
Despite initially putting up resistance, Epic Games eventually reverted this change, but the damage – as the data has shown – has already been done.
A key voice in the backlash was from Tyler Blevins a.k.a. Ninja, who famously rage quit Fortnite specifically in response to difficulties with the BRUTE mechs. Ninja started streaming on Mixer on the same day Fortnite’s 10th season began (which may not be a coincidence). Within a week, he had amassed one million followers on Mixer.
Within a month, however, he abruptly ended a Fortnite match after succumbing to a BRUTE mech, and switched to Minecraft. Owing to his enormous following, many people who would have been following Fortnite would have certainly switched to Minecraft.
Ali Kabbani a.k.a. Myth, Jack Dunlop a.k.a. CouRage, and Mason Lanier a.k.a. Symfuhny have all also switched from streaming Fortnite to Minecraft since the BRUTE mechs came into play. Benjamin Lupo a.k.a. DrLupo and Brett Hoffman a.k.a. dakotaz also switched temporarily, but have since returned to Fortnite.
Other streamers who also play games other than Fortnite, such as Félix Lengyel a.k.a. xQc, Michael Grzesiek a.k.a. shroud, and Imane Anys a.k.a. pokimane have all played Minecraft within the last 30 days.
New Announcements & Content
In May 2019, Minecraft celebrated its 10th birthday.
This was technically the first time that Minecraft had overtaken Fortnite – the trend quickly reversed and then reversed again. For the occasion, Mojang released Village and Pillage, which was the game’s largest ever update. It also announced augmented reality mobile game Minecraft Earth, and dungeon crawler Minecraft Dungeons.
Because of such a key milestone and announcements for two strong upcoming games, Minecraft’s profile was raised significantly. Not only would this have earned new players through marketing, but it happened at a time in which many people were looking for an alternative to Fortnite.
One of the things that makes Minecraft’s rise in popularity all the more impressive is that it isn’t actually free on most platforms, unlike Fortnite.
It should be said that Fortnite has been an extremely successful game and has achieved a rare level of popularity – it is the biggest game in the world right now, after all. But, it is also following a familiar trajectory with megahit games: what goes up must come down.
Minecraft has achieved something far rarer, which is to be consistently popular for 10 years, while still having strong opportunities on the horizon. The data suggests that Minecraft is a solid choice to return to after megahit games such as Fortnite begin to fade, which is probably what we are seeing.