Every so often, an app comes along that seems to spread like wildfire. One day, no app. Next day, pretty much everyone you’ve ever met is using it. Most of the time, these fad apps take the form of games. Birds is a strong theme here: just think of the flappy or angry variety.

There’s little doubt that the biggest such phenomena of 2018 are two very similar titles, which have nothing to do with birds, known as ‘Battle Royale’ games. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the first, and original is called Player Unknown: Battlegrounds (PUBG) and the other is Fortnite, specifically the free-to-play Battle Royale mode.
Like Gangnam Style and Minecraft before them, these games have been hitting all kinds of landmarks. PUBG set the record for largest number of concurrent online players earlier this year, and Fortnite managed to beat it a month later. The latter also set records on YouTube and knocked Minecraft off the number one spot on Twitch, with Fortnite streamer Ninja reportedly earning almost $1m a month for playing the game. Incredibly, the two games made a quarter of a billion dollars between them in February, with March’s numbers almost certainly higher than that.

The popularity of Fortnite vs PUBG mobile versions

For businesses, understanding how widespread these games are is the first step to understanding if this is something they might need to think about – are employees playing these games on work devices? And is that even a problem if they are?
There are tens, if not hundreds, of millions of players of these games, but getting reliable player counts can be tricky. And that is even harder on mobile, where neither developer has released any figures at all, with the app stores revealing scant information – an estimate in Google’s case and nothing at all for iOS.
In 2017, at Wandera we estimated the daily active user count for Pokemon Go, just after the peak of its success. These figures were reasonably accurate and combined on multiple data sources to estimate the global activity. For context, Wandera provides security for hundreds of thousands of mobile devices, which grants top-level insights about the prevalence and usage of different applications.
Drawing upon this dataset to get an understanding of popularity for both PUBG and Fortnite, we can compare it to known download numbers for other applications and their relative popularity in our dataset, plus correlate it with the volume of reviews for each game on the app stores. It’s by no means an exact science, but we can get a very broad estimate for the total number of downloads for each title, and somewhat more reliably for their comparative popularity.

Estimated mobile app downloads for Fortnite vs PUBG

At the time of writing, Fortnite was yet to hit Android devices. Despite this, the game has probably been downloaded almost twice as many times as PUBG, which is available on both iOS and Android. However, download numbers don’t tell the whole story. Analysing the actual activity of Fortnite vs PUBG on devices reveals a slightly different picture.
While around 7.95% of Fortnite players open the app and play it each day, on average, a larger 12.05% of PUBG players do the same. This means that, despite a much larger install base, in terms of daily active users (DAUs) Fortnite’s lead on PUBG is less pronounced.

Estimated DAUs for Fortnite vs PUBG

Interestingly, despite a huge surge towards 10M players per day, the data suggests that enthusiasm has waned slightly, perhaps as the novelty of mobile battle royale gaming wears off. We may have already reached ‘peak Fortnite’, though it’s probably too early to make that claim as the word continues to spread.
It’s worth noting that Pokemon Go peaked at around 25M DAUs, meaning Fortnite and PUBG still have some way to go to match that scale.
Further data analysis shows that playtime for both games peaks between 5pm-8pm each day, suggesting players are generally waiting until after work to get their battle royale fix. Another, smaller, peak in play takes place at around 8am each morning – meaning huge numbers of employees probably are diving into the games to pass the time on their commutes.

How much mobile data do they use?

For consumers and businesses alike, there are a few concerns about the impact these games might be having on their mobile data bills. Many players will sensibly play on Wi-Fi connection, which although it might start hammering their phone batteries is a sure-fire way of avoiding additional data costs. However, not all players are willing or able to use Wi-Fi at all times and so instead must rely on 3G/4G data connections. Once again, at Wandera we have analyzed user play sessions and performed a lab experiment to arrive at some estimates of typical data usage while playing Fortnite vs PUBG.
It appears as though players of Fortnite go through more than 50% more data than those preferring PUBG. It’s also worth noting that the Fortnite file size is just shy of 2GB, while PUBG is less than half of that – a worthwhile consideration for users downloading the games through a cellular connection.
It’s unlikely that either game will create huge data overage costs, other than for the most active players – who may well need to see someone about their addiction. However, employees finding a few hours a week to play either game on their work devices may well find themselves reaching corporate data limits – often meaning expensive data charges. This problem can be far greater for players dipping into the games while roaming. Overseas costs per MB tend to be far higher than domestic charges, and we’ve encountered countless instances of careless employees accidentally streaming video or uploading images to Instagram while on work trips.
Organizations are advised to implement a sensible policy when it comes to gaming, and Fortnite and PUBG might pose new questions to mobility leaders. While data consumption is within manageable limits, employees should be informed about responsible play in line with your business’s guidelines to avoid unwanted fees or losses to productivity.
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