Fortnite passes PUBG with 3.4 million concurrent players

Fortnite hit a whopping 3.4 million peak concurrent player count over the weekend, surpassing PUBG's Steam-topping 3.2 million record—a remarkable achievement by any stretch , marred only by the fact that the flood of players clobbered the servers repeatedly. "The extreme load caused 6 different incidents between Saturday and Sunday, with a mix of partial and total service disruptions to Fortnite," Epic said in a "post-mortem" of the weekend difficulties, in which it also put out a call for help in solving the problems. 

The post is lengthy and technical, diving into issues like "MCP database latency," "XMPP outages," and "available IP exhaustion." There are plenty of charts as well, and I'm sure it's all quite interesting (and comprehensible) if you're into that sort of thing. It's a lot to take in, but the bottom line, as Epic put it, is that "when 3.4 million clients are connected at the time same these inefficiencies add up quickly." 

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"Problems that affect service availability are our primary focus above all else right now. We want you all to know we take these outages very seriously, conducting in-depth post-mortems on each incident to identify the root cause and decide on the best plan of action," the studio wrote. "The online team has been working diligently over the past month to keep up with the demand created by the rapid week-over-week growth of our user base." 

Steps in that process include identifying the root cause of database performance issues, eliminating unnecessary calls to the backend, reducing the "blast radius" when things go wrong, scaling up its internal infrastructure, and an "MCP re-architecture," whatever that means. Like the post-mortem itself, it's all quite technical, and Epic has put out the call to people with very particular sets of skills—for instance, experience in running large worldwide multi cloud services and/or infrastructure—for assistance in working out the issues.   

"It’s been an amazing and exhilarating experience to grow Fortnite from our previous peak of 60K concurrent players to 3.4M in just a few months, making it perhaps the biggest PC/console game in the world!" Epic wrote. "All of this has been accomplished in just a few months by a small team of veteran online developers -- and we’d love to welcome a few more folks like yourself to join Epic Games on this journey!" 

Bear in mind that Fortnite's player count is across PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, so PUBG may still have the edge on PC—Epic doesn't break its numbers down by platform so it's impossible to say. But the bottom line is that while this is a good problem for Epic to have, it's still a problem: Gamers obviously dig Fortnite but if technical troubles continue to plague it, they'll eventually start to drift off to other games. Epic recently announced that its free-to-play MOBA Paragon will be closed in April, in part because it's been forced to shift resources to the far-more-successful Fortnite.   

[The post has been updated to note that Fortnite's peak concurrent player count is multiplatform, while that of PUBG is Steam only.]

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.