Epic Games' Fortnite has consistently been one of the most popular video games in the world since its launch last year. Over 78 million gamers were playing Fortnite in August, according to Epic Games, and Newzoo ranks it as the second most popular core PC game in the world.
Fortnite is a survival game with two main game modes: Save the World, a cooperative shooter in which players work together to fend off monsters and defend objects with fortifications; and Battle Royale, where up to 100 players battle to be the last person standing. The game has been released for all the major consoles, iOS and Android devices, and Windows PCs and Macs.
SuperData claims that the game surpassed $1 billion in cumulative worldwide revenue in May, and the total is growing quickly. That's impressive considering that Fortnite is a free-to-play game that only generates revenue from selling virtual currency (V-bucks), which can be used to purchase skins, dances, and pre-released game modes for characters.
Many investors who wanted to invest in Fortnite's growth were probably disappointed to discover that Epic Games is a private company. However, there are still three other ways to profit from Fortnite: by buying shares of Tencent (NASDAQOTH:TCEHY), Turtle Beach (NASDAQ:HEAR), and even GameStop (NYSE:GME).
Tencent owns 40% of Epic Games, making it the easiest way to invest in Fortnite. Tencent is the world's largest video game publisher by annual revenue, and its massive portfolio of games includes blockbusters like Riot Games' League of Legends, Supercell's Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, and Arena of Valor (known as Honor of Kings in China).
It also owns stakes in Bluehole -- the publisher of Fortnite's battle royale rival PUBG -- Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, and numerous other game publishers. That makes Tencent seem like a smart all-in-one play on the global video game market. Over a third of its revenue came from online games last quarter.
The rest of Tencent's revenue comes from its massive social media business (which centers around WeChat, the most popular mobile messaging app in China); its advertising business; its streaming media platforms; and other smaller units that focus on cloud services and online payments.
Tencent is a well-diversified tech company, but it ran into trouble earlier this year when the Chinese government suspended all new game approvals due to concerns about gaming addiction. That threw a wrench in Tencent's plans to bring Fortnite and the PC version of PUBG to Chinese gamers, but the freeze should end early next year. When that happens, Tencent's online gaming revenue -- which rose just 6% last quarter -- should recover.
Shares of gaming headset maker Turtle Beach have surged more than 1,000% this year on the growth of battle royale games like Fortnite and PUBG. Wireless gaming headsets are essential for both games, since they require players to constantly communicate with each other.
Turtle Beach gained a first-mover advantage in this market by launching the first Xbox One-compatible wireless gaming headset last year just as the battle royale boom began. The company now controls nearly half of the console gaming headset market, according to NPD's latest figures.
As a result, Turtle Beach posted triple-digit revenue growth in the first half of 2018. Analysts expect revenue to more than double during the current quarter and to rise 78% for the full year. Analysts also project that Turtle Beach will report a full-year profit in 2018 -- compared to a net loss last year.
Turtle Beach bulls view the stock as a smart way to profit from the popularity of battle royale games, but investors should be cautious. Turtle Beach's sales growth is decelerating, and it already faces plenty of competitors like Logitech, Razer, and LucidSound in the increasingly crowded headset market.
GameStop is often dismissed as an outdated brick-and-mortar game retailer that is losing customers to digital distribution platforms. That's why Wall Street expects GameStop's revenue and earnings to fall 3% and 9%, respectively, this year.
However, GameStop doesn't sell only physical software. It also sells consoles, accessories, and collectibles. Last quarter, sales of new software, pre-owned software, and value video game products only accounted for 46% of its total revenue.
11% of its revenue came from video game accessories sales, which rose 30% annually during the quarter. CFO Robert Lloyd attributed that growth to strong sales "of headsets and controllers related primarily to the popularity of Fortnite." Headset sales notably rose "over 80%" -- which also bodes well for Turtle Beach.
But that's not all. GameStop expects new Fortnite merchandise to boost its collectibles business, which accounted for 9% of its revenue last quarter. It also stated that more gamers were buying V-bucks at its stores, which could boost its brick-and-mortar traffic.
The bottom line
Investors shouldn't invest in Tencent, Turtle Beach, or GameStop on Fortnite hype alone. However, they should consider the hit game -- along with other battle royale titles like PUBG -- to be a significant tailwind for all three companies.