Demographic data courtesy SimilarWeb
Here's some fascinating demographic data for Epic Games' Fortnite: Battle Royale, the massive multiplayer hit. According to SimilarWeb, 16% of the visitors to the website* are female. This might not seem like a lot, but Epic recently announced that the game has 125 million active players, which suggests roughly 20 million+ players are female. (According to Apptopia's Jonathan Kay, the game's mobile version is used largely by female gamers.) To put a dollar estimate to this playerbase, Fortnite just generated $1 billion in microtransactions, which means roughly $160 million of that has come from its female player base.
That 16% also suggests Fortnite is about as twice as popular among female gamers than standard multiplayer combat games, like Call of Duty or Battlefield. (This was also true of Overwatch in its heyday last year.) Fortnite integrates a lighter tone (literally and figuratively -- dance moves!) into the violent action, which help make the game appealing to both genders.
"Like Overwatch, it has a much brighter/colorful aesthetic and prominent female avatars, and we've seen in some of our earlier survey findings that the drab/militaristic palette/design of common shooters is unappealing to female gamers," says game demographics expert Nick Yee of QuanticFoundry, pointing me to a company post cleverly called, "Female Gamers Want To Kill You, Just Not With Guns".
And while Fortnite does come with lot and lots of guns, there's also boobytraps and the ability to create new structures to assist in combat. "[I]t's not that women don't like shooting people in the face," Nick says, citing QuanticFoundry's extensive gamer surveys, "it's that they feel typical shooter presentation is drab and boring and use guns in the most dull way possible."
YouTube streamer Alicia Chenaux, who usually plays casual social games like Second Life, recently became Fortnite fan:
"I usually play Fortnite with friends, so I really enjoy the social aspect of it," she tells me. "I also love that it seems more casual. It usually doesn't matter, whether I'm running solo or running with my squad, if we die or don't get the highest kill count. It's just fun, and once that round is over, it's on to the next.
"I also appreciate all the fun little things that we stumble upon while playing, such as the dinosaur park tucked away in the desert, or the random loot llamas."
As with Overwatch, all this contradicts the persistent stereotype of women and games. It also explains why the game industry is starting to work harder to add female avatar representation in its hardcore games -- and has lost patience with angry male gamers who complain about this. When EA added a female avatar to its upcoming Battlefield V game, eliciting ignorant gamebro complaints that women didn't fight in World War II (quite possibly the dumbest, most easily disproven objection ever), EA didn't bother trying to placate them. Saying, instead, "you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game".
For this reason alone, expect more and more gender diversity in upcoming games, which in the end has little to do with political correctness. As with Hollywood, where female-led movies make more money, game developers have finally grasped that sexism is a bad revenue model.
* This demographic data is based on overall traffic to epicgames.com; however, a SimilarWeb analyst tells me, Fortnite-related pages are over 80% of total traffic to the site, and should be pretty representative of the game itself.