If for some reason you have not yet heard of it, Epic Games’ Fortnite is a video game which can played on a PlayStation, Xbox or a PC. The objective of the game is simple: to be the last player standing. The game starts in a “Battle Bus” (a sort of hot air balloon) with up to 99 other online players. You jump out of the Battle bus and glide down to an island. Then the aim is to kill as many people as possible without being eliminated, ultimately being the last person standing. You can play solo, duo, in a squad of four, or even teams of 20 which was released only 1 week ago. All of this can be played with your friends.
So how did it become so popular? The game has been out for almost 6 months, and currently has over 40 million downloads, with 3.4 million people playing at any one time. With this immense growth, it has managed to surpass its biggest rival game; PUBG (which has a similar premise.)
One reason the game has got so many downloads is because you have nothing to lose by doing so. Unlike many PC/Console video games, it is free, which encourages people to try it, and most of the time they will quickly get addicted. Like mobile games, it has in-app/game purchases, where players can buy cosmetic items. Over 10% of Fortnite players have made a purchase at some point, which then pays for the development of the game.
The Fortnite developers make changes directly based on community feedback: adding and removing weapons and items, depending on whether they are popular with their audience. This means that the players are always mostly satisfied with the game itself. Whenever the game has a new update, it is hyped up a lot by Epic Games, and YouTube videos are made showcasing the changes. The community then is in great anticipation of the update, and when it finally comes out, they are hardly ever disappointed. The developers spend time making the updates good enough quality that they are able to keep the community engaged, and satisfied on regular basis.
Fortnite is different from most other shooter games in that it is not by any means realistic. This may not sound like a positive point, but this makes it stand out a lot. Its vibrant colour scheme is visually impressive, and makes the game appear to have more variation, as opposed to the grey, dark, settings of its competitors. Its cartoonish style makes it appeal more to younger children, and parents who are concerned about violence. The game is on the lowest possible end of the shooter game spectrum in terms of gore and violence, so therefore more children are allowed to play it. Despite this, the game still appeals to adults, meaning that Fortnite has a huge demographic.
Another reason the game is so popular, is because it uses unique building mechanics that no other shooter games have. You can build to defend yourself, to move around easier, to create a fort which gives you a vantage point over your enemies. Every game is different, because the forts that are constructed by the end of the game are different. Also the storm which closes in as the game progresses forces players to move to different places in the map each game. There is no straightforward method for winning, as there is no guarantee as to what will happen.
All these things mean that the game has become extremely popular, it is currently the most popular streamed game on Twitch, where pro gamers earn millions of pounds per year playing it. This has also boosted its fame, as it is being recommended to new potential players on online video platforms. But will its popularity last? Is it just a fleeting craze that will die before the year is out? We can only wait and see.