When Fortnite’s Battle Royale hit the market in September 2017, few could have predicted that it would rake in more than a billion dollars in its first 10 months. With over 125 million active players, to call Fortnite a resounding success would perhaps be an understatement.
Gaming is a competitive industry and is dominated by just a handful of major game developers. So how did Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, attract such massive appeal in such a short time? After all, it relies on the same accessories as other games such as a wireless gaming mouse.
There’s certainly some element of good luck. But the success largely comes down to excellent strategy, timing, and programming. Here’s a look at why Fortnite rocks.
1. Iterative Design
Iterative game design is like prototyping on steroids. It’s a powerful and effective way for perfecting and validating ideas. Game designers can monitor the performance of each new variable and determine its appeal to players. That way, developers can make small but steady progress in making the game better.
In Fortnite, everything is subject to change. Each week, Epic Games launches at least three new changes. Such a small number of changes is easy to digest, doesn’t disrupt the routine players are already accustomed to and can be reversed easily.
2. Collaborative Environment
Fortnite is just one of many games that pit large teams of players against each other. It has, however, distinguished itself by incorporating elements that foster a cooperative atmosphere. For example, Fortnite randomizes the skin of game characters from match to match. Players are assigned random skin colors and ethnicities from match to match.
Also, only one of the three permanent game modes is solo—the other two (teams and doubles) pit groups of players against one another. This radically changes the players’ mindset as they go out of their way to support their teammates in order to better their odds of victory.
3. Cultural Relevance
Fortnite’s continuous relevance to the real world and prevailing pop culture has proven to be a great way to connect with its audience. The adoption of diverse dance and music genres (everything from K-Pop to goth) means virtually everyone can see something they can relate to.
So culturally aware has Fortnite become that the game’s dance styles have been used by major athletes celebrating goals and points. Epic Games is also constantly taking holidays, movies and Internet memes into consideration. The result is a deep and loyal connection with its audience.
4. Complexity and Sophistication
You’re down to four players, a few weapons and plenty of resolve. Some invaluable supplies are landing close by that will give you a more realistic fighting chance to win. A storm is closing in that will soon force you out of your current position but there are several snipers around who are also keen on grabbing the same set of supplies. What do you do?
If you have some gaming experience, Fortnite is relatively easy to learn. Nevertheless, it takes time to master the building and shooting. And even when you have that figured out, there’s still a whole lot to learn. Part of Fortnite’s allure comes from the absence of certainty. No matter how good you are at the game, there’re no guarantees of victory.
This is arguably the number one reason for Fortnite’s rapid widespread adoption. With a low barrier to entry, it’s accessible to both the wealthy and the lower classes.
In the battle to break even and churn a profit, many games demand a one-time purchase before you can play. Fortnite has adopted the smartphone gaming approach by making the game free and instead earning revenue from micro-transactions.
Fortnite certainly has a lot of things going for it and the above points are only some of the reasons why the game has taken the world by storm. It’s rise to become the most popular game on the planet has not been accidental. As more established franchises such as Battlefield and Call of Duty seek a bigger stake in the battle royale format, it will be hard to dislodge Fortnite from atop the leaderboard.