In the span of a year, Fortnite has become a global cultural phenomenon. The internet is dominated with clips and videos of the best plays, there are million-dollar tournaments where professional players vie for massive prize pools, countless celebrities have played it, memes are created about the game, and children around the world perform cringe-worthy renditions of Fortnite’s virtual dance moves.
How and why has this happened?
- Fortnite is a free-to-play game. Many of Fortnite’s competitors in the Battle Royale market, like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Call of Duty: Blackout are not. In-game purchases are merely cosmetic and the game is not “pay-to-win.” This sort of freemium model has proven to be very successful for other games in the past, such as mobile gaming sensations Clash of Clans and Candy Crush and various MMORPG games.
- Fortnite has taken over the internet. In the past year, Fortnite
livestreamershave taken over the Twitch scene, with some garnering hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers. Streamers like Ninja, Tfue, Myth, and Daequan are watched by tens of thousands of people worldwide. There are forums and websites dedicated to discussing and reporting on the latest Fortnite news. Some of these personalities have made millions of dollars off of donations, advertisements, and endorsement deals.
- Fortnite is deeply intertwined with pop culture. Since Fortnite exploded in popularity, many celebrities have played the game, sparking waves of news headlines and bringing people from different fanbases and communities into the Fortnite scene. When hip-hop artist Drake, fellow rapper Travis Scott, and NFL wide receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster, played with Ninja, the internet exploded. During that month, Fortnite experienced over 50% growth in revenue.
- Fortnite is very approachable for the novice. Though the first few games may be a struggle, a new player can quickly pick up the basics with the help of friends, watching streamers, or the numerous online tutorials available. The game has smooth, cartoon graphics that are very easy on the eye and are very different from the grittier, military-style graphics that are in PUBG, for example. The learning curve is not very steep.
- Fortnite is a unique mix of a shooter and a building game. This is what sets Fortnite apart from other Battle Royale games—the building. If someone is shooting at you, building a wall is all you need to do to stop them. Want to climb a mountain without finding the path up? Just build a staircase. Want to gain an angle or a good position on an enemy? Use various structures to move around even when high up in the air. It adds a whole new dimension to the old “duck behind cover, watch your back” approach of nearly every shooter on the market. The uniqueness of Fortnite’s gameplay, best exemplified by the “build battles” that have become increasingly common, is what makes Fortnite so special. An example of a build battle in Fortnite, where two or more players use various structures to gain high ground and the initiative in the fight. Fortnite’s building will certainly be familiar to the very large group of kids who played Minecraft and other building games a couple years ago.
- Fortnite has innumerable ways for the players to be silly and mess around, making the game appealing to a younger demographic. You can literally throw a grenade to force your opponents into a frenzy of dancing for several seconds, leaving them incapable of shooting or building. There are emotes, which are icons, images, and dances that you can perform in-game. As a young person myself, I can tell you that there is nothing more hilarious than killing a team of four people and dancing on their items while they spectate me, helpless.
Young people (10–18) are the demographic with the most time and energy to invest in playing video games, so a game that successfully appeals to a younger audience will, of course, be massively successful.
- Fortnite’s developer, Epic Games, has invested tens of millions of dollars into fostering its competitive scene. Epic Games recently funneled $100 million dollars into future eSports events, a massive boon to the growing competitive video game industry. Fortnite’s tournaments so far: the Summer Skirmish, Fall Skirmish, and Pro-Am, were massive successes, raking in millions of viewers and bringing the game even more publicity. With the Fortnite World Cup scheduled for 2019, expect to see the Fortnite competitive scene continue to grow.
The Fortnite Professional-Amateur Tournament at E3 2018
- Fortnite has only one map, but it constantly changes, along with the game itself. Epic Games is constantly adding new locations, changing old points of interest, and bringing new things to the Fortnite map, keeping it familiar yet novel at the same time. Just look at the differences between Fortnite’s map in Season 1 versus Season 6. The changes seem massive, but remember that they were all added gradually over the course of a whole year. The gameplay is also fluid, with building material spawns, ammunition spawns, gun spawns, gun damage, gun accuracy, new items, old items, etc, all being changed with weekly updates. This makes sure the game is always fresh and keeps old players coming back for more.
- Fortnite has had several live events that help to further a continuous storyline. Oh yeah, they look amazing and are stunning. Epic Games’ in-game events are unprecedented in the world of gaming, happening in all matches at a certain time with incredible graphical quality, realism, and live changes to the map. The storylines give loyal players more to speculate on when they’re not grinding wins, and it also helps to keep the game fresh. So far, Fortnite has had a live rocket launch that nearly destroyed several locations on the map and a minute-long trip into the Matrix with a glowing butterfly, among others.
- In conclusion, Fortnite is a game like no other. Its developers are smart and have mastered the formula for building a true titan of the gaming world.