This year, it’s felt like Fortnite has taken over the world: seemingly every teen is playing it, big sports events always have stars doing in-game dances, and even Drake likes to drop onto the island from time to time. When it comes to video content, some of the most circulated and widely talked-about gaming clips tend to be wild plays or funny Fortnite moments. But, don’t let the hype deceive you: Fortnite hasn’t actually overtaken every corner of the internet.
Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s director of gaming content and partnerships, does admit that battle royale games, in general, have been exploding on the platform, thanks to the likes of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Call of Duty’s recent Blackout mode. Despite that, none of these games are beating a blocky survival game that continues to capture the attention of children everywhere nine years after its release.
“Fortnite has certainly been a massive contributor to the growth on gaming [but] Minecraft is still our biggest game globally,” Wyatt says. “Fortnite has not taken off in every single market.”
If this seems absurd, consider this factoid: despite its age, Minecraft saw a record-breaking 74 million active players in December 2017. For comparison’s sake, as of August 2018, Fortnite had 78 million players. It also helps that after all these years, Minecraft continues to be updated with new content, so players always have a reason to keep coming back — and a reason to record themselves enjoying the game.
The biggest games on YouTube also fluctuate depending on the market in question. In the Middle East and Asia, for example, top games include mobile multiplayer online battle arena games such as like Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, two games that aren’t even on the charts in the US. While mobile gaming has been huge for years now — everyone has a phone — Wyatt says that it wasn’t until somewhat recently that people have wanted to watch mobile games in huge numbers on YouTube.
“It’s a very Westernized look when you look at just the Fortnite lens, of how big Fortnite has been,” Wyatt tells The Verge. “But when you start to look at these other countries and regions, we’re actually seeing explosive growth from the mobile gaming category that’s pretty underrepresented in the West.”
“I think there are a lot of things that are happening outside of the US, outside of Western Europe, that are causing a lot of growth for gaming on YouTube that are kinda understated.”
Update September 21st, 10:54AM: Added the most recent active unique users for Fortnite.