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Video Game Stocks Mostly Unaffected By 'Fortnite' Blackout

Video Game Stocks Mostly Unaffected By 'Fortnite' Blackout

Monday may shape up to be a good day for the makers of the games that compete with "Fortnite" for players’ attention.

With Epic Games' "Fortnite" offline as part of the publicity over its end to season 10, and with season 11 not having started yet, anyone wanting to do some online gaming Monday — on the federal holiday of Columbus Day when many were home from work or school — had to play something else.

How much that will benefit other video game companies, if at all, especially over the long run, is hard to say.

Judging by the number of Twitter users — who made the "Fortnite" blackout a top trending topic on Sunday and Monday — and who were still watching "Fortnite's" black hole screen on Twitch, many gamers seemed to be reeled in by Epic Games' publicity move and were eagerly awaiting the new season of "Fortnite," which already is the top console game.

Tencent (OTC: TCEHY) owns a 40% stake in Epic Games.

Meanwhile, there appeared to be little effect on the stocks of some of the other big names in the space, which have their own issues.

Blizzard Boycott

A week ago, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) sparked outrage by some, and an online boycott of unknown size, when it banned an esports competitor who used a post-match interview during a "Hearthstone" tournament to express solidarity with Hong Kong protesters.

Blizzard defended its action, saying it wants the focus of its tournament streams on the excitement of the game itself, but acknowledged it reacted too quickly and too harshly, and reduced the penalty on the player.

Cowen analyst Doug Creutz said the boycott was hurting Blizzard's "Hearthstone" sales, with iPhone data suggesting U.S. bookings at least 18% lower than without the boycott, but that it appeared to be easing.


The game that was billed as a direct competitor to "Fortnite," another battle royale shooter game called Apex Legends, from Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA), which, along with Activision Blizzard, is one of the biggest companies in the industry, hasn't been able to topple "Fortnite" from its top spot.

EA remains bullish on the game, saying in its most recent earnings call that it could generate as much as $400 million in Live Services revenue for the full year that ends in March. Still, it seems unlikely that a few days of downtime is likely to dramatically shift the player loyalty between the two games.

'Fortnite' Already Dropping

"Fortnite's" popularity was already in decline from its 2018 peak, according to research by Edison Trends. The black hole blackout, rather than hurting the company, could end up boosting interest and spiking players in the near-term.

Activision Blizzard shares were up just slightly on Monday to $54.89, while Electronic Arts shares were up a bit to $94.54. Tencent's OTC stock was down marginally at $41.47 per share.

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