Fortnite, the building battle royale shooter, has taken the gaming world by storm. (Pun intended) For those new to Epic games’ phenomenon, the game places up to 100 players on an island with limited resources, and they must rush to the center of the island as an approaching storm slowly swallows the landscape. Players are eventually forced to battle each other until only one remains, resulting in a victory royale. The concept is pretty simple, so what exactly sets Fortnite apart? Why does this game have 3.4 million concurrent players?
Here’s 5 reasons why Fortnite has been so successful.
Despite stereotypes to the contrary, gamers are a surprisingly diverse group. One thing they all have in common though, is an affinity for anything free. Free to play has been dominating the gaming sphere since 2014. Multiplayer games work especially well with this model because players are more likely to buy the cosmetic items to show off. Fortnite does have a single player version of the game – called “Save the World” – where players work together to fight against zombie hordes, but that version is not even remotely as popular as Battle Royale, and the drastic difference between the two modes has even caused some division in the community.
But the most important aspect of free to play is that it widens the player base considerably, without a pay wall players can venture the island of Fortnite without worrying about if they are wasting their hard-earned cash, and if they enjoy their visit, they’ll stay, and maybe buy a dance.
2: Every platform
Fortnite is now available on iOS, and Epic has promised to let players know when it will be coming out on android. You can sign up for the mobile version of the game for iOS here. Combined with the recent rumors that Fortnite is coming to Nintendo switch, the game will be on everything.
Every major platform will be saturated with island battles, and with the game’s huge popularity and non-existent price tag, there’s not much to stop new players from getting into the game. The shooting portion certainly favors the mouse and keyboard of the PC players, but different strategies can be supported in Fortnite – players that prefer to focus on building may find it easier than landing sniper shots, especially on tiny phone touch screens. That means that players experienced with the game could play it on the go and adopt a completely different strategy, more suited to the device they are playing on.
While that may not seem like a huge deal, keeping the base active ensures that Epic can maintain a stranglehold on the market. Epic has learned the importance of an active base from the failure of their Moba game, Paragon, and they don’t intend to make the same mistakes with Fortnite. As of right now, there is cross console play with PC for both Xbox One and PS4, but Xbox players cannot play with PS4 players, at least, not anymore.
There was a brief period of time where the feature was enabled, proving that the system can handle it. But despite the pleas of both the player base and Microsoft, Sony is refusing cross console play, citing safety concerns. If the feature is ever enabled again, the game will become even more unstoppable.
3: Star power
Fortnite is currently leading twitch in total viewers. A large portion of those numbers come from former Halo streamer, Ninja. Ninja has shattered twitch records by gaining over 10,000 followers in a single stream, the stream that featured popular musician, and apparently PS4 gamer, Drake.
Ninja’s stream had 635k peak viewers – he gained 157k Twitch followers total, and over the course of six days he gained 40k twitch subscribers – his twitter gained 83k followers – his Instagram 84k, and the total views for the video, as of yesterday, the day it came out, was 3.7 MILLION views. Those numbers will only climb higher as Ninja continues to go viral, he totals 3.4 million followers on twitch as of today, and 4.6 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, with no signs of slowing down.
The demand for Fortnite content is huge, and Ninja’s success will likely lead to the rise of more quality content as the game moves further into the mainstream spotlight. Drake’s appearance will likely encourage others outside of the gaming sphere to join in. Of course the flip side of that is there will likely be a lot of really bad content trying to duplicate Ninja’s success, but we’ll focus on the positive. Now we just need a hotline bling dance.
4: Epic hates cheaters
Of course, none of this Fortnite phenomenon would be possible without the developers at Epic Games. Epic games have been actively seeking legal actions against cheaters, creating something of a controversy when they slapped a lawsuit on a 14 year old. Despite the cheater’s mother’s legally savvy argument, the community doesn’t have much empathy for them. The comments in the Fortnite reddit regarding the news sided with Epic, the top being upvoted 134 times:
“While I mostly agree that this whole thing is a bit excessive, my understanding is that this part of her claim isn’t true. He wasn’t just a kid who downloaded a cheat, he was also promoting and heavily involved with the website that distributed it. This 14 year-old may not have written the cheat himself, but he also wasn’t a randomly selected target out of tens of thousands.”
Cheaters not only undermine the safety of the game, they ruin the experience for other players. Epic’s hard stance against this and other cheaters encourages more players to invest in the game, because they know their experience will be protected. It also dissuades cheaters from joining the community, which makes everyone happy.
5: Minecraft factor
The last, and final factor in our list of the reasons for Fortnite’s success, was the timing of another gaming phenomenon, Minecraft. Minecraft will celebrate it’s tenth anniversary next year. It created a new open world building genre when it was released in 2009, and as players raised on the game grow up they will find themselves naturally drawn to the familiar.
Enter Fortnite, which uses many of the same building and material-based gameplay, but with a more competitive shooter feel perfect for pubescent players. Players don’t seem to mind the presence of kids on the game, either. As one redditor put it, “If people did not let their kids play I would have a kill count of zero…”
Unlike team-based shooters, having more kids in the game increases veteran players odds of victory. As those players get more experienced that may change, but for now, they’re just another NOTCH on the belt.
That’s our top 5 list!
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