Viral Visionaries

Viral Visionaries: What kind of impact will Fortnite have on YouTube Gaming?

Viral Visionaries: What kind of impact will Fortnite have on YouTube Gaming?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock (or in a lonely lodge) you'll have caught wind of the fact that Fortnite is currently dominating the gaming space. 

Epic Games' battle-royale escapade is leading the charge on Twitch right now; it has the most concurrent viewers of all the titles on the platform. 

Lets not forget Ninja and his incredible rise to the top. This Fortnite streamer is breaking records left, right and centre after broadcasting with rapper Drake. He's not the only streamer to prefer Fortnite to PUBG, either.

However, the success of Fortnite has started to trickle over to YouTube. Channels are beginning to benefit from covering the title. Spanish YouTuber ElrubiusOMG recently broke the record for most concurrent viewers on a gaming stream on YouTube.

Even Ninja himself has amassed over six million subscribers on his YouTube channel since christmas, and he doesn't even stream there!

We asked our panel of experts what Fortnite will do for YouTube Gaming in the long run. Will it have the same effect on the platform as it did Twitch, or will it begin to quickly descend down the ranks like PUBG did?

Kat Peterson Reelstyle

I think the Battle Royale genre as a whole has seen a lot of success lately so I don't think it should come as a surprise that a publisher like Epic could create a game that has really taken over in a way.

In addition to feeding the genre Fortnite has also seen a huge lift from great streamers and YouTubers alike which has also fed the popularity, thank you Shrowd, Ninja, Dr.Disrespect and Luzu (Spanish).

While I would love to say a popular game today will have a big impact on YouTube gaming, it likely will not, it's just another cycle in the wash, I think we were all having the same discussion at one point around PUBG no? I think the only big wave Fortnite has caused is around Twitch, Ninja x Drake stream brought a tremendous amount of mainstream media attention to the platform.

Pascal Clarysse CMO-at-large Eden Games

Pascal Clarysse started looking for so-called Growth Hacks a good decade before the buzzword was coined.

Clarysse used to be the marketing driving force at, where he was in charge of relentlessly spotting new trends, waves and magic holes. In recent years, he's served as a marketing consultant for various indie studios, participating in launching mobile games and the occasional Kickstarter campaign.

I hear whispers from China that PUBG team has moved from double shifts into triple shifts, now that Fortnite gave them a fight for prime time love... PUBG isn't dead by any measure, it's just temporarily suffering from the fact that Fortnite came out in the same genre, with the wicked production and humor values to which we are accustomed to from Epic Games.

Very excited to see that both are taking mobile very seriously as this could mark the end of the dog years for mobile esports. Can't resist pointing out the irony that this is basically a race between two Tencent-owned formula one cars. They are competing between themselves for number 1 and 2 spots, while the rest of us peasants are relegated to watching and commenting!

Fortnite's accessibility and clean presentation opens it to more demographics

Macy Mills Head of Business Development GameInfluencer

I personally think the entire Battle Royale genre is here to stay, in popularity, on YouTube Gaming, Twitch, etc. It was just announced that the game also broke the record for most videos related to a video game uploaded to YouTube in a single month. Not bad!

Epic revolutionized gaming by creating an incredible experience on every single gaming platform out there, not just PC and Console, but Mobile too. I think Fortnite is particularly interesting for influencers as they are typically a younger audience, which Fortnite caters to with it's fun graphics and humour.

PUBG is obviously a similar game, also built on Unreal, but uses a more realistic art style. Fortnite's advantage in regards to streaming is that there is much more action with the building functionality and the movement itself. Both Fortnite and PUBG managed to reshape the influencer landscape, boosting Twitch and YouTube to new heights and drawing influencers from every direction and every genre.

Britt Bagnall Founder Cherry Pick Talent

A massive appeal comes from the fact that it's totally free, unlike any other console games, this one is there for the world to try and so far, the response is overwhelmingly positive.And it extends beyond your typical, basement-dwelling gamer!

Jocks, dads, Hunger-Games fans, never-gamed gamers, hardcore gamers, it appeals to them all and sucks us in! The truth is though, you get so sucked in, you're lured to make some in-app purchases and the next thing you know you're not only a Fortnite lifer (like our girl Macy), but you've now paid for the game.

Drake helped to spread the appeal to a whole new world, showing non-gamers gaming is actually pretty epic! And now its a phenomena that isn't disappearing from our daily faves for a good while. It also offers short enough play times to dedicate time to a full battle and maybe even stop in (if you're a casual newbie) more than once a day!

Streamers prefer Fornite to PUBG for a number of reasons

Shanzay Usama Creative development & digital media manager Maverick Media

Fortnite as a whole game isn’t popular, the battle-royale game mode within it is popular - which is part of a trend. That being said, the biggest difference between other battle-royale games and Fortnite - and thereby the great thing for Influencers - is that it is audience-friendly.

You don’t really see a death when you kill another player (like the blood splatters in PUBG), the visuals are aesthetically pleasing, and they even have the ‘animate’ feature which creates a friendlier environment within the game itself (rather than a ‘taunt’ feature like in many games).

These factors make it suitable for all audiences, and thereby well-suited to YouTube content. It’s also actually fun.

We’ve already seen the surge in channels playing Fortnite, but I think the same way that Minecraft did before it, Fortnite is gearing up for the long haul. Family-friendly dedicated channels, and/or it’s going to break into esports - in which case the question shouldn’t just focus on YouTube Gaming, but also on Competitive Gaming.

Veera Rouvinen Community Manager Traplight Games

One reason, a very obvious one, is that Fortnite is free to play, unlike the biggest competitor PUBG. A colleague of mine pointed this out very well: "If I were 13 right now of course I would go nuts over a free-to-play battle royale game.” The graphics and play style also support a less serious, fun-filled gaming liked by younger audience in contrast to PUBG's realistic graphics and guns etc.

The graphics style and easier mechanics also make Fortnite’s gameplay easier to follow on stream (eg. easier to see where the bullets fly, who is winning the gun fight etc.) The building aspects of Fortnite bare resemblance to Minecraft, which we know has already defined a whole generation of gamers.

And the pvp mods of Minecraft were already popular with kids before the launch of Fortnite, so moving on to Fortnite has been an easy choice for them.

It just seems that Fortnite is everything that the “Minecraft generation” has been waiting for. These players are also YouTube and Twitch native, and consume influencer content at much higher rate than older players.

The sheer amount of young, influencer-friendly players makes the game obviously interesting for both Twitch streamers and YouTubers, on top of the fact that battle royale is a very streamable/YouTubable genre in general.

It’s hard to say how the popularity of Fortnite will affect YouTube Gaming, but my guess is that we will see a lot more battle royale games, both mobile and PC/console, on the gaming channels of YouTube in the future.

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Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.