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‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ overtakes ‘Fortnite’ as most popular free-to-play game in survey of 9,800 teens

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·3 mins read

Move over “Fortnite,” Activision Blizzard’s (ATVI) “Call of Duty: Warzone” is now the most played free-to-play game among teens, according to a new Piper Sandler survey. The Taking Stock with Teens survey, which draws its conclusions from 9,800 teen respondents in the U.S., found that interest in “Fortnite” has fallen slightly, while “Call of Duty” has skyrocketed.

The news is sure to be welcome for Activision Blizzard, which blew away analysts’ expectations in its Q2 2020 earnings report on the strength of “Call of Duty’s” performance.

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Epic Games, the developer and publisher of “Fortnite,” meanwhile is also contending with what could be a lengthy legal battle with Apple (AAPL) over commission fees the iPhone maker collects on sales made through apps downloaded through its App Store.

'Call of Duty: Warzone' is now more popular among teens than 'Fortnite,' according to a new survey by Piper Sandler. (Image: Activision Blizzard)
'Call of Duty: Warzone' is now more popular among teens than 'Fortnite,' according to a new survey by Piper Sandler. (Image: Activision Blizzard)

“Call of Duty” launched on March 10, just as the coronavirus pandemic was ramping up in the U.S., and about 2 weeks before cities and states began issuing lockdown orders.

At that point, according to Piper Sandler’s data, 62% of respondents said they play “Call of Duty” in the most recent survey, up from 33% in the spring. Those who play “Fortnite” fell to 37% from 39% in the spring, and 53% in the spring of 2019.

“Call of Duty” was even the game most teens were interested in buying in 2020, with 42% saying they would do so. (“Warzone” is free-to-play but the full “Call of Duty” game with its single-player option is not.) That blows away any of the other titles respondents were asked about, including CD Projekt Red’s highly anticipated “Cyberpunk 2077.”

This illustration picture shows a person waiting for an update of Epic Games' Fortnite on their smartphone in Los Angeles on August 14, 2020. - Apple and Google on August 13, 2020 pulled video game sensation Fortnite from their mobile app shops after its maker Epic Games released an update that dodges revenue sharing with the tech giants. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)
This illustration picture shows a person waiting for an update of Epic Games' 'Fortnite' on their smartphone in Los Angeles on August 14, 2020. (Image: by Chris Delmas /AFP via Getty Images)

New consoles are in demand

With the coronavirus forcing consumers to stay indoors, sales of gaming hardware have been through the roof, with Microsoft (MSFT), Nintendo (NTDOY), and Sony (SNE) reporting spikes in demand. That has led to concerns that sales of Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5, due out Nov. 10 and Nov. 12, respectively, will suffer.

After all, if you just bought a console in the spring or summer, are you really going to get a new one in the fall? But that fear seems to be unfounded, at least as far as the Piper Sandler survey respondents are concerned.

According to the data, about 63% of respondents plan to buy an Xbox Series X or PS5 in the next two years. That’s up from when Piper Sandler asked the same question in spring and 61% of respondents said they would do so.

Microsoft and Sony are releasing two versions of their consoles this time around. Microsoft is launching its high-end Xbox Series X for $499 and an entry-level Xbox Series 2 for $299. Sony, meanwhile, is launching its PlayStation 5 for $499 and a digital-only version of the system for $399.

Sony, like Microsoft, is set to launch a new pair of game consoles this November. (Image: Sony)
Sony, like Microsoft, is set to launch a new pair of game consoles this November. (Image: Sony)

That’s good news for retailers like GameStop (GME) that have been looking to the new consoles as a potential revenue boost.

But Piper Sandler’s survey also holds bad news for brick-and-mortar shops, with more teens, 67%, saying they’ll purchase games via full-game downloads, rather than picking them up in stores. That’s a jump from 61% in the spring. What’s more, 26% say they’ll purchase all of their games digitally, up from 23% earlier this year.

Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com over via encrypted mail at danielphowley@protonmail.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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