What makes Fortnite so popular? An analysis

What makes Fortnite so popular? An analysis

On the cusp of the Battle Royale genre being invented, a few clear winners have broken ahead of the pack. One of the biggest is Fortnite, which was built originally to be a zombie survival game. Its creators, Epic Games, then took the base engine and modeled it after PUBG to create its unique BR-style gameplay.

Fortnite is free to play and already optimized for consoles and PC, which are factors that have allowed its explosion in popularity. With famous celebrities like Drake playing and clocking in some of the highest stream counts to-date, it’s amazing how fast the game has amassed a fanbase.

Here, we are going to analyze the many ways in which Fortnite has been able to maintain its steady and rapid growth.

Grooming players into super fans

Fortnite is a free-to-play Battle Royale game, therefore revenue is earned in the game through cosmetic purchases as opposed to buying the game upfront. These purchases allow you to flaunt your skills with either new skins or new animations for your character to perform.

Unlike PUBG, many players intend to engage with its free offerings and not take part in purchasing add-ons. Only the most involved players – super fans – will purchase, which became Epic Games’ main purpose: turn regular plays into super fans.

Click here for our profile on Ninja, one of the most popular Fortnite streamers.

Building a habit means building a fan base

Rather than simply giving rewards out for playing a bunch of games, they use strategic challenges to get you to experience a variety of game contexts, grooming you to become a devoted player.

Achievements for using different guns are fairly straightforward; it encourages you to look for fights with weapons you might not normally use, increasing your game knowledge. But the most powerful ones are the challenges that require you to play different game modes.

Playing solo games, playing team games, or placing high in a game mode helps people feel comfortable playing Fortnite in multiple contexts. Whether this means playing when their friends are on, going at it alone, or trying out each new game mode,there is always something to do when they log in.

Short-term rewards, long-term commitment

While you could ignore the achievements, the resulting XP is enough to encourage their pursuit. It helps players cash in free rewards, and completing these challenges are exactly what grooms the userbase into devoted players — the kinds of players willing to purchase holiday skins or unique animations.

In addition to this habit-forming system, Fortnite excels in accessibility: being available on platforms such as console, PC, and now even mobile gaming.

More channels, more players

It’s an impressive technological feat that Fortnite has been able run its game on almost every conceivable system. And, on top of that, it allows for cross-platform with all systems.

The open market means that there will always be competition — PC vs. Console continues to be the hot-button topic. Rather than pick a side, Fortnite allowed us to cross bridges in a meaningful way by letting everyone join a party to play games.

Click here for our profile on Dr. Disrespect, a hugely successful Fortnite streamer.

Focusing on what matters: Having fun

Technological limitations and balance issues have long been reasons to avoid cross-platform play. It’s commonly accepted that a mouse and keyboard provide quicker aim time than a controller, and many people saw that as an unfair advantage and scrapped any ideas of cross play.

Rather than fold, Fortnite accepts those limitations, and chooses to embrace them to allow anyone to play and have fun (even if it hurts their win rate).

This is the reason Drake was able to play with Ninja: cross platform. It’s also the reason if you have one more spot on the squad; your roommate can jump in on mobile or a laptop and kick some ass.

Learning from the past

Local multiplayer in previous eras was also not completely optimized. Mario Kart 64 would hyper-compress its graphics to allow 4 players on one screen, yet no one complained because it was fun. Sometimes sub-optimal graphics make for a fun experience that keeps people playing for an extended period of time.

Games that are less competitive (MMOs or casual games) should consider adapting to this development style. Runescape on mobile is the exact step in the right direction. It provides more contexts for people to play the game, which is always better for the game’s longevity.

Not forcing cross platforms keeps it so that people who want to play in the top percentile can go to the optimal lane, while keeping the choice available for those who choose a more casual path. That choice is why I think Fortnite has set itself up for massive success: by listening to gamers and creating a game for the people.


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