E3 2018: How GameStop Benefits From Fortnite, A Game It Doesn't Really Sell

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Fortnite is one of the most popular games on the planet right now, and its success is helping improve retailer GameStop’s business. GameStop merchandising VP Eric Bright told GameSpot at E3 2018 that Fortnite and other games in the battle royale genre have led to increased headset and controller sales for the retailer.

Battle royale games are all about surviving as long as possible, and one element that can give you an edge is hearing where foes are coming from. The thinking, then, is that as more people play these games, they’re going out to buy headsets. GameStop remains one of the biggest gaming retailers in America, so it makes sense that the retailer would see see an uptick in sales.

“I have to mention the entire battle royale phenomenon that’s going on right now,” Bright said. “Headset sales have doubled from where they were a year ago.” That is attributable heavily to the “battle royale phenomenon,” Bright said.

“You’re getting a wider demographic of consumers who are looking for a great audio response,” he added. “As you’re playing these games, you have to be able to tell where bullets are coming from, are people sneaking up on you, what’s going on in the environment. So they are looking for that headset. And then controllers as well. We’re seeing our controller sales up way over where they were a year ago, and I think that’s also an impact of the battle royale phenomenon.”

People are also presumably looking to pick up headsets with mics to be able to communicate with teammates. Fortnite, PUBG, and other battle royale games offer duo and squads play where communication is critical, in addition to solo mode.

Fortnite launched in July 2017, with the free-to-play Battle Royale offering releasing in September of that year. The game is indeed a bonafide phenomenon; it reached an astonishing 125 million players in under a year.

Many industry-watchers have commented on how Fortnite is good for gaming overall because it has brought in so many new players. Bright said he agrees. “I do believe Fortnite and other games–and PUBG as well–are bringing a wider group of people into the gaming industry. They’re picking up consoles to play these games.”

Bright went on to say that Fortnite and other battle royale games help GameStop’s digital business as well, as GameStop lets people trade physical goods for digital currency. That’s a big deal for Fortnite, as the game offers lots of cosmetics to buy in addition to the Battle Pass. Bright said GameStop has seen a “huge uptick” in digital currency sales since Fortnite’s release.

Fortnite: Battle Royale is a free-to-play game, but the Save the World mode is paid (for now). Borderlands studio Gearbox publishes the physical version of Save the World, and GameStop is among the many retailers that sell the game. So GameStop does also benefit directly from those sales, too.

Also in our interview with Bright, he told us that GameStop expects a “feeding frenzy” for the PlayStation 5 and next Xbox consoles when they are finally announced. Keep checking back for more with GameSpot from our conversation with Bright.

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