Fortnite touts sales figures while players lament pay-to-progress model

Epic Games’ PvE multiplayer zombie tower defense survivalbox MMO thing Fortnite is doing well in its launch week, at least in terms of non-Steam PC early access sales. Creative Director Darren Sugg tweeted out yesterday the presale numbers.

“Absolutely humbled by the response to this week’s @FortniteGame launch,” he wrote. “500k+ digital pre-order sales and just getting started!”

But the storm brewing on Reddit suggests the sale part is working as intended — the game’s current issues aren’t in the early game at all but in the paywall monetization that comes later. As one Redditor put it, the game is pay-to-progress after a certain point: “This process of churning items continues with the material requirements growing exponentially with each step of progression. You will need more and more items that are time/money gated and no amount of playing the game will alleviate that.”

Another invoked gacha mechanics, likening the model to Skyforge’s: “Same UI. Same skilltree and unlocks. Same time/paygates. Same way of obtaining stats (Survivors to followers). Same early access time to release. Both went to console to milk, because console players share more similiarities to mobile gamers.”

Intriguingly, most of the complaints heavily praise the game, studio, and dev team but express sorrow and frustration strictly over the business model.

Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie took her first foray into Fortnite on last night’s stream; you can watch the recap down below.

Source: Twitter via Reddit
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37 Comments on "Fortnite touts sales figures while players lament pay-to-progress model"

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Jack Kerras

I am playing a shit-ton of Fortnite. Pretty much 16hrs a day for the past eight days; my Dad just had heart surgery, and while I was -freaking the fuck out- about that, I just took some time off work and buried my head in video games as a method of rapidly traveling through time to when Dad is okay.

This game isn’t pay-to-progress. Not even close. The issue is messaging.

People have been trained extensively for years to think that anytime they have a purple or orange item, they need to be using that. Fortnite’s purples and oranges are in the form of schematics; they need to be leveled and then created in-game in order to be usable weapons.

Green Heroes can be leveled up to three stars, which means they can be a maximum of level 30. You don’t get the ability to level to two stars until very late in the first zone, or three stars until very late in the second zone.

People are using oranges in zone 1 and 2. This is… okay? But here’s what things cost to evolve:

1* -> 2* green weapon – Zero Pure Drops of Rain, zero Weapon Designs, just Schematic XP.
1* -> 2* green Hero – Zero Drops, zero Training Manuals, just Hero XP.

1* -> 2* blue Hero – 3 Drops of Rain, 1 Training Manual.
1* -> 2* orange Hero – 20 Drops of Rain, 6 Training Manuals

You functionally have to grind up six blue or two purple heroes in order to get enough Training Manuals to level an orange Hero up to the 2*, 10-20 range. This is a HUGE investment for people who aren’t buying packs.

The thing to do is to use greens until you run out of headroom (in Plankerton). Right about that time, the game starts giving you blue heroes. You can grind up your old green Hero and get 90% of your XP back – same goes for your guns – but you only get XP, not Drops and Manuals, so it’s only almost-free to retire/recycle greens.

In Canny Valley, you start running out of leveling headroom with your blues, and right about that time, you get purples from quests and missions.

When you’re up in Canny Valley and Twine Peaks, you’ll have a much better spread of available missions, many of which reward blue items and therefore also give things like Manuals and Designs.

People think ‘I can’t progress!’, which means ‘I’m not getting purples!’ Or they think ‘I can’t level without packs!’ because they’ve chosen the most expensive possible route to take. When you level tons of oranges and purples, you have to work -very- hard and grind for a -long- time to get enough grey items and People to convert into blue Survivors and grind the Survivors into Training Manuals. It’s a huge effort, and not worth taking, considering that weapons perform very similarly between 10/10 or 20/20 green and purple.

Not saying purples aren’t better: they are. That said, a purple will hit for 85% of a normal husk’s health, and a green will hit for 55%. That seems like a lot more damage, but when you’re fighting three fucking hundred of the things, you’re still shooting six hundred times to kill the lot. You’re better at killing big monsters, but you are perfectly capable of contributing even deep into Plankerton with nothing but greens.

Going up to blues at that point is great; it’s basically free to turn a green item into a blue item except for the few Drops and Designs/Manuals you’ll need, and the quests are giving you enough blues that you’ll just -have some-. And one orange costs roughly six times what a blue costs, so your Founder Pack items are -sort of- a white elephant.

Further, people complain about bullet-sponge monsters, but they also try to play the game like Call of Duty. In the early game, this works great and is basically how everyone does it. Once Plank kicks in, you really need to rely on traps to kill little Husks while you kill big Husks.

So: it is a messaging issue. The game is not Pay to Progress unless you take the most expensive possible route; otherwise, it gives you everything you need to succeed except for the knowledge that there’s no shame in using the Hell out of greens for as long as you possibly can.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

People need to remember this really is an Early Access title of a Free to Play game coming in 2018.

What the company needed was feedback from people about, well about everything. What they didn’t want to do was let in a bunch of free players who would think they were playing the game because it was finished and then go away in frustration at things that are going to actually be changed before it’s released. They’re doing exactly what they needed to and yet people give them grief about it non stop anyway.

I’m starting to see why it wasn’t released on Steam at the moment. Griping EA reviews slamming it when it’s still in a development period.

This isn’t the permanent game, they need your feedback for changes and will make many in the months the game is still being developed.

If you’re someone who wants to buy into the Early Access – remember that is what you’re doing. You’re buying into a game that’s still in development and will be for some months to come (at least 5-6 minimum and maybe twice that) before everything is done and ready for the actual release and free players. Much is going to change.

Have you people never been in a real Early Access game before? Have you only been spoiled by games that get labeled Early Access when they’re really mostly done and shouldn’t be there? It’s like many people making comments here are totally confused and flabbergasted by the whole Early Access thing.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

You also need to remember this is a game that’s been in public closed testing for *two years* now. The feedback they’re getting now on the progression/monetization, and the UI, are the same feedback they’ve been getting for two years.

Their willingness to reply to feedback on most issues, even on Reddit, has always been good; EXCEPT when it came to the progression issue. They’ve always been very noticeably silent on that, except to make their (rather false) claims that the game wouldn’t be “P2W.” When they explicitly comment on feedback threads covering every topic *except* the monetization scheme, of course people are going to be frustrated (especially after 2 years), because that sends a pretty clear message: this isn’t changing.

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Sorenthaz

That’s because Early Access is often abused heavily. But the feedback is needed and people are giving said feedback.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Yep. As a dev, you can’t really claim the EA period is “just to get lots of feedback” when you’re putting out $80 and $150 game packs. That’s a plain pre-F2P cash grab, full stop; has nothing to do with trying to open the game up for a bigger feedback loop.

Valen Sinclair
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Valen Sinclair

Been playing a big the past few days. Fun game with friends. The interface is god awful. Navigating to do different things is a pain. You can’t manage Hero inventory unless you are in a mission or at your base…wut? This is 2017…right? I wanted to build a weapon and it listed 4 materials I needed. I couldn’t tell what they were. Tiny little icons, now words, and no hover text.

Yes, the interface is pretty horrible.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Yeah, so many basic issues with the interface in this game. I honestly don’t know how this shit made it to release after the 2+ years of public (read: non-friends-and-family) testing they’ve done. Oh sorry, I mean “early access.”

Mewmew
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Mewmew

But it really is Early Access… This is a free to play game coming in 2018, it’s not release, it’s Early Access. They’re going to listen to a lot of feedback and change these things.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

As I said above, this is nothing new. This is feedback they’ve gotten. These are consistent issues that have been pointed out. Jesus, they shouldn’t *need* a massive amount of feedback to tell them about simple things like “make the same material stack” or “let me see my inventory when I’m in my home base, where I spend 50% of the game.”

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Mikka Hansen

I dont see anything interesting here. I wouldnt play this game for free

Loyheta
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Kickstarter Donor
Loyheta

congratulations *hands a cookie* you earned it.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Still holding firm to my view that AAA developers/publishers like Epic have no business in Early Access. Ever.

Can’t say I’m surprised by the paygates, given the games initial design as a F2P title (is it going to be F2P at launch now? I never figured that out, it doesn’t seem like it will be but oh well). Disappointing to see that they’ve left that nonsense in despite adding a box price. You get one or the other, not both, bros.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Yes it is going to be a Free to Play title released in 2018. This *IS* Early Access and they very much DO have business being there – as look at all the feedback people are giving. They’ll probably listen and change up a lot of stuff before the actual release of the game.

They haven’t added a box price, they’re doing a paid Early Access that you get quite a lot in return for over time. The game isn’t released yet and isn’t ready for release, it needed some major testing and feedback without being flooded by freebies who think the game is actually released now. They’re doing exactly what they should be doing.

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Dug From The Earth

Yeah, their mentality for why the game needs to be F2P contradicts with their payment model.

They state that they want LOTS of players, and the best way to make the game accessible to as many players as possible, is for it to be F2P. On the flip side, the current structure for the games payment model/paygate is going to do the exact OPPOSITE with the player base.

Under the current paygate structure, people who really like the game and want to play it a LOT, are going to stop playing. The people the paygate wont affect (much) are those who infrequently play, and only for short periods of time.

They really need to get their crap together when it comes to this whole ordeal, or any serious, dedicated players, wont exist in this game, unless they are the typical F2P “whales”.

What they SHOULD have done is designed it around being a Buy 2 play game (ie: Full box price, with no progression at ALL linked to additional purchases). Then, if they wanted it to be accessible to the “I dont like to pay for my entertainment” gamers, they could have a gimped version of the game for free. One that has all the paygates that exist in the game currently.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Well we’ll just see what changes are implemented before the game is actually released. It’s supposedly still in development until an unnamed time in 2018. It’s not as if this stuff is all settled, they’re going to listen to feedback and make changes before the real release.

Though it turning to buy to play is unlikely, they will almost certainly make changes in the way their free to play system is going to work. Why they’re not allowed to have an Early Access I really don’t get. The game needs feedback and development, it doesn’t need a ton of free players who think the game is ready for release and that’s why they’re getting to play it, they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.

The game is going to get a lot of feedback changes before release, so let’s just give them feedback and get it changed (I’m not playing yet, but I probably will be sometime along soon). Let’s not talk to them as if it’s a finished product we’re complaining about – though I get that’s the way some people give their feedback.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah that’s along the lines of what I’ve suggested on Reddit threads.

Founders would all be in b2p status and should be able to either grind for what they want or should be able to obtain upgrade llamas naturally via gameplay with exp boosts, special offers, and inventory expansions being sources of optional purcases. And cosmetic stuff later on.

The problem with the game currently is that there’s massive grinding required to get through/past the second region. It gets greatly hampered by the fact that you NEED extras of survivors and weapons and such at blue quality or higher for recycling/retiring in order to get upgrade materials for making the stuff you want to use stronger.

But you’re literally time gated after a point. You need VBucks to buy llamas so you can get more stuff that can go towards upgrades, but it becomes a trickle via daily quests. And you hit that point where you can’t level survivors etc up and need to evolve them.

So it’s a mess in all the wrong ways. Putting a pay/time gate on a game that already requires huge amounts of grinding is ludicrous.

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Dug From The Earth

Im mostly upset that there has just been silence from the devs on this issue.

Its clearly the #1 issue being talked about by players, and the devs are choosing the wrong way of handling it (ie: being completely silent)

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Sorenthaz

They did say that they’ve been reading and listening. Here is the only thing I’ve seen so far as a response on the matter which was in their “Road Ahead” post:

“Fortnite will eventually be a free-to-play game. It’s the best way for the game to reach the most gamers in its lifetime. We want to build a sustaining model that is fair, respects your time investment and has a well functioning economy, and to do this we want your feedback. But if you’d rather wait until we have evolved the game more, that’s okay, we will be here when you return.”

And while searching they did post this very recently: https://www.epicgames.com/fortnite/forums/fortnite-discussion/general-discussion/19031-state-of-game-progression

Which directly correlates with the progression complaints. I think the reason they aren’t just leaping to something right away is because at the end of the day they do want something that’s sustainable, and there also is a lack of information on how to progress and so on. The game hasn’t been available to play (for non-alpha players) for a full week yet and I think it’s honestly better that they don’t do a kneejerk reaction and instead take time to discuss it and figure out what would be a good model for Fortnite to use since it is a pretty unique game.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Yes – the game IS in an Early Access development period for real. It’s not a money making scam, they really are listening to feedback and still developing the game for at least 6 months or more before releasing it. People are ridiculous here with what they’re saying. They’re like an angry mob that just listens to each other working each other up rather than looking at what’s the truth.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah Mewmew I understand it’s in Early Access and they are definitely showing that they’re listening which is why I justified getting the Ultimate upgrade yesterday >.>

But people are going to kneejerk and react strongly to stuff ’cause they’re used to getting dicked over. Obviously Epic can’t change everything immediately but it’ll be neat seeing where they go with things. Just hoping that they’re able to get a patch out in another week or two that starts addressing some of the balance issues, since the only class that doesn’t fall off after a point (unless you want to be the designated base builder as a Constructor) is the Soldier.

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Dug From The Earth

yeah… I wasnt wanting a solution, just acknowledgement that they see the issue players are pointing out.

I stumbled across some disheartening info today in reading up more on the subject. Apparently, Epic games is owned (something like 40%) by the chinese company called Tencent. There is a very good chance the horrible monetization is due to that, and may very likely not change due to that.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Yeah I’m leaning towards shareholder/publisher pressure here. The same issue’s also been prevalent in Paragon, apparently. It started out with some really bad RNG/paywall nonsense, which they alleviated with crafting and some other systems.. and it sounds like they’re now rolling that back and again going with RNG lootboxes instead.

The same exact nonsense as this game. When you read how it can take ~150 blue survivors just as ‘material’ to level and evolve unfilled survivor squads, that’s pretty horrifying.

When the most positive “this is how you work around the RNG/paywall” thread on Reddit boils down to “only log in to do daily quests, low level alerts, and farm chat for storm defense”, that’s a problem. They’re treating this like a cheap indie dev’s mobile game, and that’s not what it is.

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Sorenthaz

Well if Paragon’s doing cosmetic lockboxes like SMITE does then I’m okay with that personally. They are doing a big overhaul of the card system so that’s apparently removing RNG from stuff that affects actual gameplay, which is good (and something Paladins should take a note from…).

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Sorenthaz

Yeah we probably read the same Reddit thread then, lol. Honestly who knows, it might be shareholder pressure but it might also just be that they were thinking it’d be good for F2P. I mean it’s fine as an F2P model, but not when the game is in a B2P state.

miol
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miol

The great influence of awesome “Facebook games” has now reached this far, hm? /s

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Jeremy

Can we just pay for a game and then play it without restriction, please?

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Sally Bowls

Not as long as a half-million and growing will EA.

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BDJ

Its hilarious what Twitch has done to gaming. Its pretty much the equivalent to “pump and dump” in the stock market.

Big named “twitch variety” streamers pump the game up by playing it, leading to their minions going to buy the game. Once the streamers dump the game, the game is dead.

Its the one reason I don’t bother with the games. Its a waste of money. Couple that with the Mobile Strike’esque model to progress and this game is going to go down faster than the Hindenburg.

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Sorenthaz

Um, or the game is super fun and enjoyable except for the monetization that brings it down after a point.

But yeah let’s put it all on Twitch streamers and their ‘minions’ as the reason this game is receiving attention. Clearly no one is actually enjoying this game and are only playing it because they’re one of the maybe at most 30k fans of Twitch streamers that play this. All those other copies were just duplicates. RichGuy53 actually bought like 1000 copies just to boost the numbers.

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BDJ

You are insane if you think it’s not because of the insanely popular twitch streamers. No one would even know what the game was or if it even existed without twitch. When you have 2-3 streamers with 35k viewers and their viewers wants to play with them or wants to be just like them…. yea… it’s going to make the game popular. This isn’t rocket science.

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Sorenthaz

I haven’t seen anyone like Lirik, Dansgaming, or Summit streaming it so that number’s blown out of proportion a wee bit. At best there’s been streamers like Admiral Bahroo streaming it with like 4k-8k viewers. Right now the game’s only getting 8k viewers during a prime-ish time for American viewers.

If anything Youtube might attract a decent chunk of people because of streamers like JesseCox who got sponsored or partnered or w/e with Epic to where they became ‘Commanders’ who were able to put out content early to give people a look at the game ahead of launch. But Twitch’s impact is like a drop in the bucket when they’ve sold 500k copies.

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BDJ

Then you weren’t watching the first night it was out. There were 2 -3 people with 20k + viewers. A handful 4-5k viewers. I think overall, the viewer count the first night was juts short of 90k. I don’t go “browse” games. I look at the home page at the top games. It was 2nd / 3rd.
You are saying the games only getting 8k viewers during prime time for American views? You fkin wot m8? Its 10am right now and the game has 11.5k viewers. Are you sure that you are looking at the right game?

This is the same thing that happened to Conan Exiles. Its also the same reason Playerunknown is still going strong like it is. Tim, Cohh, summit, all the big streamers are still playing it. They all moved over from H1Z1. Guess what happened to H1Z1? Yep, you guessed it. Game is a ghost town now.

These big named streamers / youtubers are pushing the gaming market. You are crazy if you think otherwise.

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Armsbend

But Epic will still have a sack of cash to show for it.

You are dead on about streamers. But every blue moon a [indie] game has some teeth that doesn’t let go – as is the case with Battlegrounds.

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Armsbend

This is going to be the future of console/pc gaming. It is going to morph into mobile gaming but much worse. You’ll still pay your upfront fee – only to be milked later. Not only, but the game won’t even be complete. We really need the industry to be crushed and soon.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Imagine the confusion if they actually let the Free to Play people in right now, it’s bad enough with the game in Early Access as it is. The game is still in development until 2018. It’s not released. It’s a Free to Play title that people can buy into Early Access now (something the game very much really needs) or wait. Most people should wait until the title is done, not buy in and then complain. They’re doing exactly what they need to be doing.

By the way, “Free to Play” and outrageous Pay to Win started on PC, not mobile. Mobile stole this stuff from PC gaming not the other way around.

You guys sound like a Parent hearing their kid swearing and blaming the neighbor’s kid, when the neighbor’s kid actually learned swearing from your kid not the other way around.

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Dug From The Earth

Over the years we have seen the “sellers” try to offensively jump on multiple, insulting, money making schemes.

For example:

– Selling a game for 60-120 bucks, but cutting content, and then selling it back as DLC to the customer over the next year for another 60 bucks.
– Selling a game for 60 bucks, but cutting content, and selling it as additional “Deluxe pre-order content” for an additional 20-30 bucks
– Selling content in games that gives you a “win” advantage
– Selling basic gameplay mechanics at an additional price (ie: additional hot bars)

etc etc. The list goes on.

Now, look at the industry. Look how many of these older things are being removed because of people not standing for it.

– Pay2Win items in cash shops rarely exist anymore outside of some asian mmorpgs.
– More and more big companies (even ones like EA) are starting to release AAA titles with NO PAID DLC. Examples: Titanfall 2, and the upcoming Battlefront 2.
– BS preorder limitations and ripoff schemes are being turned around because of customers not putting up with it (IE: the latest Deus Ex game)
– Games like Swtor adjusted their model to not gimp basic game functionality by making users pay for it
– Nearly every steam game that makes use of mobile like payment models gets slammed in steam reviews and ends up either dying off, or having to change their ways.

Gamers ARE protesting, and companies ARE listening, as well as starting to change their ways. This doom and gloom “future of the way things are going to be” is just an overly negative and unrealistic mindset. As long as gamers keep not standing for the BS that goes on, companies will be forced to change their ways.

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BDJ

Yea we really do.

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