I might not like it and it may not be my kind of game...but Fortnite is easily the most popular game in the U.S right now. This year, Fortnite passed over 40 million downloads. Kids across the U.S can't stop talking about the skins, doing the dances, and watching the streamers. Epic Games has single handedly turned the gaming industry on its head and changed the way we look at FPS's and DLC in general. But how? How did they take a failed IP and turn it into pure gold? Also what does this mean for other games and how can they benefit from the concepts that Fortnite has damn near perfected?
SO WHAT IS FORTNITE?
When Fortnite was publicized, it was done so as a zombie survival game. Yea, bet you didn't even know.
The point of the game was about players gathering resources and "fortifying" a base all the while defending said base from wave after wave of zombie in the middle of the "night". I see what you did there Epic. However, this didn't really take as there was so many games at the time doing this and doing it much better. In fact one can easily draw a connection between what Epic Games tried to accomplish with this and what Sunset Overdrive tired to accomplish with their game. However, both failures. That is until Epic and Fortnite added it's Battle Royale mode. That changed Fortnite forever and thus the landscape of the gaming industry. In fact if my information serves me correctly, Epic Games abandoned development on a newer IP to invest all of its resources and time into making Fortnite a living breathing game.
WHAT IS FORTNITE DOING THAT'S SO RIGHT!?
The developers are listening. They are taking player feedback into consideration...and they are embracing the success that Battle Royale brought them even though the main concept was a flop, all while sticking to their guns. Making Fortnite that "all in" game is what helps make it the biggest game on the planet right now. It's incorporates silly popular dances and gifs as taunts. Most recently they had this "be Thanos" mode where if you found the single Infinity Gauntlet on the map you'd turn into Thanos and wreck shop. This coincided with the release of Disney and Marvel's Infinity War.
The Highest grossing movie in their franchise thus far. That's not just a good idea, it's great marketing. And remember how I mentioned they turned Fortnite into a living entity basically? Well, lets just look at season three. Epic Games started a narrative for Fortnite that was as ambitious as it wanted to be. I'm talkin big. And I'm talking Big in my best Donald Trump voice. Fortnite is ambitious in ways that other online games could hardly even imagine pulling off. Throughout their season two a meteor hovers over the planet getting ever closer week by week. Players took their guesses about what it could mean. An incoming alien invasion? Destroying the in-game metropolis? And once the rock hit the ground, the landscape of the game was changed. Epic crafted a narrative for an online multiplayer game. They did this without exposition and exclusively out of contextual clues and in-game hints. Other games could take a lesson from this alone. *Cough, cough*. Looking at you Destiny.
WHAT OTHER DEVELOPERS CAN LEARN.
Few games can accomplish the success that Fortnite has. That success doesn’t just come from kick ass game design. It doesn't just come from keeping up to date with the latest dance craze of gif sensation. And it doesn't simply come from Fortnite being a free to play fame. In fact, it comes from avoiding something very typical of free-to-play games. And that's the "F-U pay me" monetization strategy. In fact, Battlefront 2 had that mentality and it wasn't even free to play! The thing that Fortnite gets so right is its Battle Pass...and it simply put, is the best form of monetization ever. Fortnite Battle Royale's Battle Pass is a system that players can (but don't have to) pay into to get a chance to get cosmetic rewards in exchange for leveling up and completing challenges—anything from full space suit outfits to the over-the-top “Take The L” emote. Developers like Bungie and EA could stand to learn a few things from this strategy. When you buy something on Fortnite or set out to achieve something you know what you're paying for and you're paying for what you know you want. This is a great way to monetize and what I've discussed here is only the tip of the iceberg. With Destiny 2 on life support and Anthem right on the horizon the question of DLC and Monetization is becoming a larger issue.
That being said. EA has already announced that with Battlefield 5 they will no longer be doing a "premium season pass". Allowing all players access to new maps keeping the community united all while focusing on promoting the game's new 'Tides of War' feature, which is DICE’s new approach to live services, where players will "set out on an epic journey with their Company in unexpected battles throughout World War 2." Now I don't know what that all entails, but hey, it's something. And with Destiny 2's "year 2" Taken King sized DLC fast approaching. Many people speculate that the DLC could be free...which would be a great way for Bungie to recapture a lot of it's community. . .
BY AND LARGE...
I don't get Fortnite. I don't like playing Fortnite. The matches are long and drawn out. The level of skill it takes is questionable. And it just plays slow and boring to me. That being said, it is undeniable that Fortnite shows no signs of slowing down and it's putting other games to shame. It's "free to play" format combined with it's "purchase to customize" content keeps the fun and interesting. All the while staying fair as weapons are located all throughout the map and all players can obtain them. If other games adopting this style of "new content release" we'd have much happier gamers and Fortnite wouldn't be the powerhouse that it is right now. However, until developers stop being greedy and start listening to their fanbase. Epic Games and Fortnite will continue to dominate and there's nothing wrong with that.