The Evolution of Fortnite: How Fortnite Became the Popular Game It Is Today

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Fortnite has become nothing short of a video gaming phenomenon. With 350 million players worldwide and a record-breaking 3.4 million concurrent users on Xbox, PlayStation, PC and mobile, it has taken over pop culture – there are even PCs designed for Fortnite! But in a market that continues to see a new FIFA or Call of Duty game released every year, how has Fortnite continued to maintain its strong position in the industry?

Fortnite’s origins

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Initially unveiled in 2011 at the Spike Video Game Awards, it took a full seven years before Fornite was finally on sale. Epic Games, the developer behind the game, wanted to make something “different and fun”, leading to Fortnite: Save the World, one of the game modes.

But it was Fortnite: Battle Royale that would become the firm favourite, and it dropped at just the right time. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) had just started the whole Battle Royale (BR) boom, taking the world by storm. While PUBG gave the genre that must-need kickstart, it was Fortnite that took BR to a whole new level. Firstly, unlike PUBG, Fortnite was free-to-play and released across PC, Xbox and Playstation simultaneously. Since then, video game behemoths such as Call of Duty’s Warzone, EA’s Apex Legends and Minecraft’s Survival Games have also entered the genre, but Fortnite still draws hundreds of millions of gamers. 

Keeping it fresh

What has kept Fortnite going for so long is its ability to stay fresh. To ensure it doesn’t stagnate and its player base doesn’t grow bored, Epic Games introduced ‘seasons’. Each of these sees new weapons, cosmetics, consumables, and changes to the map.

As of November 2020, there have been 14 seasons – we’re now in Chapter Two, season four. The season model continues to give fans something to look forward to every few months, preventing a loss of players.

Microtransactions

Despite being an entirely free-to-play game, Fortnite brought in revenues of $1.8 billion (according to SuperData Research) in 2019. This is because its revenue comes from in-game purchases called microtransactions. A player can acquire additions such as ‘costumes’ and ‘skins’, which they have to purchase to make unique customisations to their in-game character. This is done with Fortnite’s in-game currency, V-bucks. 

Many accessories in the Fortnite shop are only available for a limited time before they disappear, generating a sense of urgency among players. No microtransactions give a player a distinct advantage in combat. However, an enjoyable user experience with a social aspect thrown into the mix encourages players to make purchases and stand out. 

Mobile

With mobile gaming accounting for over 50% of the global games marketing according to Statista, Fortnite needed to break its way into the market. Following on from the success of its release on console and PC, Fortnite: Battle Royale was released on iOS and Android in April 2018. To date, it has surpassed well over 100 million downloads. 

Esports

A growing phenomenon in the video game industry are esports tournaments. What makes esports unique to other more physical sports is the sense that anybody can get involved and become a world champion. Fortnite actually has an in-game events feature that players can enter and work their way up the rankings. 

More advanced players turn professional and can compete for huge cash prizes at the Fortnite World Cup. With winners taking home $3 million in 2019, they’d be earning more than the Wimbledon champions. Of course the Fortnite World Cup doesn’t just create opportunities for its players – it also generates a huge amount of hype surrounding the game, raising further awareness. 

Celebrity endorsements

With its 350 million players, it’s clear that Fortnite hasn’t just been enjoyed by your typical gamer. It has drawn the attention of celebrities across a multitude of sectors, from music and film to sports. The most notable, perhaps, is Drake, who hopped on a live stream with American streamer Richard Tyler Blevins, better known as Ninja. This stream drew over 635,000 concurrent viewers at its peak, a huge boost to not only Ninja, but Fortnite as a whole. 

Drake hasn’t been the only celebrity known to wander into the Fortnite world. Personalities like rapper Travis Scott, Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard and footballer Mesut Özil and Zlatan Ibrahimovi? are just a few of the many mainstream celebrities known to play the game. The impact of celebrity endorsements is very apparent in raising awareness and helping Fortnite reach a wider audience.

Movie tie-ins

2018 and 2019 saw two of the biggest and most hyped about movies of the 21st century released: Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The team at Epic Games was smart enough to jump on this hype joining forces with Marvel.

Fortnite welcomed Thanos into the game for a limited-time mash-up, giving one user every game the chance to transform into the supervillain. This generated a huge response on social media with the announcement garnering over 262,500 likes on Twitter, giving the game even more publicity and maintaining cultural relevance. 

Covid-19 and interactive events

Covid-19 saw well over half of the world go into lockdown. With people encouraged to stay at home, many turned to video games as a means to stay in contact with their friends and keep themselves entertained. This presented a huge opportunity to video game publishers and Epic Games jumped on the opportunity to encourage people to play Fortnite. 

Fortnite hosted live events, and even interactive concerts, with players stowing away their guns and setting down for an in-game movie screening instead. A major event hosted by Travis Scott saw players teleport around the map and into outer space with nearly 28 million people getting involved. 

Summary

Regardless of what you believe is the best gaming console for playing Fortnite, there is no doubt that since Fortnite’s release in 2017, the developers at Epic Games have continued to demonstrate their ability to innovate and adapt. Fortnite continues to stay fresh and relevant through updates and keeping in line with current trends. 

While the game may be polarising – it’s worth noting that it has a very love-hate reception among gamers –  one thing is for certain: those who love it have a huge passion for the game and show no sign of going anywhere soon. Time will tell if Epic Games can maintain the same level of innovation going forward, but Fortnite is definitely not showing any signs of slowing down. 

Author Bio: 

Oliver Griffiths has a passion for film, video games and technology. He can be found at Tillison Consulting running a number of clients’ digital marketing campaigns across all sectors and platforms.   


Novatech links: 

  1. Novatech: Fortnite PC https://www.novatech.co.uk/pcs-for-games/fortnite-pc/

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