Best Buy Thanks Fortnite for Boost, But ‘Nothing Lasts Forever'

(Bloomberg) -- Best Buy Co. can thank video-game phenomenon Fortnite for providing an unexpected boost last year, but those tailwinds might not last.

Best Buy Chief Financial Officer Corie Barry said the Epic Games Inc. battle-royale title lifted sales of all sorts of gaming consoles, PCs and accessories like headphones over the course of the year. That helped Best Buy deliver full-year sales growth that trounced the forecast it had laid out in early 2018. Best Buy had expected some softening in the gaming category in the wake of the successful debut of Nintendo’s Switch console in March 2017.

Instead, Fortnite “lifted all boats,” Barry said on a call with analysts on Wednesday. “And that genuinely was something that we didn’t see in front of us. That was a material change versus our original expectations.”

But it might not last. A report released last week by SuperData, which tracks the industry, showed that Fortnite’s revenue on all platforms declined 48 percent month-over-month in January. And more competition is coming; Electronic Arts just debuted a competing battle-themed title, Apex Legends. Fortnite is free to play and relies on in-game digital purchases of accessories like player uniforms, called skins.

Best Buy Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly, who knows a bit about popular video games from his experience working on the famed World of Warcraft title more than a decade ago, expressed some doubts that Fortnite fever would last.

“Nothing lasts forever in the entertainment world,” Joly told reporters on a call Wednesday.

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