If you ask any random person on the street to name the first videogame that comes to mind, nine out of ten people will say Fortnite. Arguably today’s most popular free to play game available, Fortnite has rightfully earned its spot as an icon of the gaming industry. Whether it be an ill-informed housewife of young children or a veteran gamer of many years, pretty much everyone on the planet has heard about Epic Games’ cultural phenomenon that has captured the hearts and minds of generations of gamers.
Fortnite has a massive online user base of over 300 million players, ranging from elementary school prepubescents to full-grown adults, all competing to take home the “Victory Royale”. With countless playstyle options that provide wide appeal to all audiences and endless replayability with little repetition, the game offers a little something for everyone.
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Though everyone knows about Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode, there is a lot more to the game that many of its countless players have never heard of, such as its campaign mode. Before it rose to fame for its massive multiplayer game-mode, Fortnite’s initial release marketed its now-lesser-known single-player role-playing game mode, Fortnite: Save The World.
This cooperative Player-versus-Environment game has its players set out to defeat hordes of monsters across a vast world, providing plenty of opportunities for varying play-styles for players to choose from such as wreaking devastating havoc across a destructible world or beelining for objectives and collecting loot. No matter what your play style of choice is, there are ample opportunities for endlessly replayable fun either alone or with friends.
Claim To Fame
Now that we’ve got the history lesson out of the way, let’s move forward to the cultural phenomenon that put competitive gaming into the spotlight like never before, Fortnite: Battle Royale. Releasing in 2017, Fortnite: Battle Royale stormed onto the scene of a congested genre of games and fast-captured the attention of the world, garnering over a million players in the first 24 hours and 125 million in the first year. Up until the release of Fortnite, the dominating game of the Battle Royale genre was PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
Fortnite released with a nearly identical concept as PUBG but with a few discernible differences. One such variance is that it sacrificed the hyperrealism of PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds graphics for a noticeably different cartoon aesthetic. Being that these two games were so similar and PUBG had such a head start in the market, it leaves one to wonder what made Fortnite seem less like a bland bargain-brand knockoff of the pre-established name brands and more like a staple in its own right.
The answer to this is simple, Fortnite added a little spice. Epic Games included a few simple features never before seen in the Battle Royale genre, such as base building and seasonal themes. These small additions were seemingly the missing touch that the Battle Royale genre needed to reach its full potential.
The premise of Fortnite is simple. 100 players fly across the map on the “Battle Bus”, choose a location to parachute to the ground with nothing but their handy pickaxe, and immediately begin collecting weapons, loot, and resources to confront other players in open combat. As the map slowly closes in, players fight in an increasingly narrower area over limited resources with the end goal of being the last player standing to earn their Victory Royale.
There are many strategies to winning a match, but almost all of them revolve around one of the unique features Fortnite offers over other Battle Royales, which is that almost the entirety of Fortnite’s environment is destructible, allowing players to cave in walls and floors to, carve shortcuts to their destination, bash their way through players’ buildings and creations, or farm building resources such as stone, wood, and metal to build their own structures.
Being that Fortnite is an entirely free to play game, Epic Games has chosen to pursue the increasingly popular approach to monetization by offering in-game purchases. For a nominal fee, they give players a seasonal Battle Pass which offers many interesting features such as additional side-quests in matches to progress towards exclusive rewards such as unique skins, dances, and other cosmetics.
In addition to this, they have an in-game shop with a rotating variety of items to purchase for immediate use. Epic Games has been incredibly smart about capitalizing on current events, trends, and preferences to create desirable cosmetics players often strive to collect. They frequently incorporate popular trends and dances from social media into their games and also create skins and other cosmetics based around current events.
One such example is when the now-defunct meme about the moth and lamp was making its rounds through the internet around the time of the game’s release. Epic has also found an incredible opportunity to market to its player base through brand partnerships. Being that Fortnite is one of the most popular games available, there are no shortage of brands and companies eager to market themselves to its massive audience.
There are many examples of brand partnerships throughout the years but one of the most prominent is the Fortnite concert series. The first musician to come up with the ingenious idea to spread his brand to the Fornite audience was Marshmello, an EDM artist who performed a digital concert within the game and had Fortnite create a custom skin of his iconic mask.
Other artists have followed suit on this idea over the years such as Travis Scott and Diplo. Another prime example of Epic Games making a fortune of brand partnerships is through its deal with Disney. To market the release of Avengers: Endgame, Disney assisted Epic Games in creating a new infinity gauntlet-inspired minigame within Fortnite as well as releasing a wide variety of Marvel-inspired skins and items. This is just one example of the many corporate sponsorships that have taken place in recent memory.
Not only is Fortnite one of the most widely popular videogames in history, but it also has one of the most robust and lucrative competitive scenes. In its first year alone, Epic Games provided a total of one hundred million dollars in tournament prizing for in-house Fortnite competitions during its 2018-2019 season.
Since its initial release, Epic Games has heavily ramped up the frequency of its competitive events and, as of today, they have multiple tournaments and events per month such as convention tournaments at places like Dreamhack and in-house tournaments during its competitive season such as the Solo Cash Cup, the Fortnite Championship Series, and the annual finals: the Fortnite World Cup. The format of the World Cup is not much different from a regular match, a one hundred person battle royale game is conducted through six solo-play matches, with each player receiving points for finishing in the top 15 players and earning kills. The player with the largest amount of points at the end of all six matches takes home the prize. The premise of the duos tournament is largely the same, but instead of 100 individual players competing for the prize, 50 squads of two players compete to split the winnings.
The grand total prize pool for the 2019 Fortnite World Cup was 30 million dollars, with every player walking away with at least $50,000. Needless to say, everyone worth their weight in Chug Jugs strives for a spot in the tournament. In the aforementioned finals, they awarded one individual, Bugha, a grand total of three million dollars for his world cup victory in the 2019 solo tournament. This is an incredible sum of money for a single player to win, especially one who was only 16 at the time and had only been playing for about 2 years.
Because of its large tournament prize pools and even more massive audience, Fortnite has become one of the most popular games for esports betting. With no shortage of competitive players and games to choose from on a daily basis on websites such as Twitch and Youtube, there are ample opportunities for the average gambler to make earn some money of their own, regardless of whether they play the game or not.
Overall, there is no doubt that Fortnite is an incredible game with ample opportunities to make money for everyone involved, including the average player, corporations, professional gamers, and gamblers alike. Any game with hundreds of millions of players is worth giving ample consideration in how to find some way to capitalize on the phenomenon.
Despite the fact that there is not a single soul alive today who has not somehow been impacted by Fortnite’s effect on popular culture, not a single person could have predicted that upon its release, the game would forever change the way all video games are perceived. For the standard gamer and esports gambler alike, one must appreciate the effect Fortnite had on making videogames so socially acceptable and widely appealing. Had it not been for Epic Games groundbreaking Battle Royale, esports would not be anywhere near as popular or closely followed as it is today.