Examining why Fortnite is so incredibly popular

For those on the outside looking in at the insanely popular Fortnite phenomenon over the past year, the question invariably rises: What makes this game so massively successful, especially considering that it wasn’t the first battle royale title to market?

Medium has a good overview of the rise of Fortnite, identifying three key elements that has translated this game into a smash hit. Those characteristics, according to the site, are mainstream appeal, its free-to-play business model, and balancing gameplay, graphics, and competitive play.

Another angle? “This ability to drive a game’s visibility underscores the fourth key point that deserves attention  —  that the marketing of interactive entertainment has fundamentally changed.”

The battle royale shooter isn’t slowing down in its development, either. With the upcoming Patch 4.2, players will be able to use the new Perk Recombobulator to mix-and-match bonuses on weapons and gear. Apparently this is a huge step up from the older perk system, which was far more restrictive.

There’s also rumors that a competitive mode is in the works. This is thanks to a datamined directory called “COMP” that suggests such a mode is on the way.

Source: Medium, Fortnite, VG247. Thanks DeadlyAccurate!
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29 Comments on "Examining why Fortnite is so incredibly popular"

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McGuffn

maybe comp is a new reward system for people who play so much and will now get free food and drinks.

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Jack Pipsam

Fun, free and actual effort put into updating. PUBG looks like crap by comparison.

Hopefully the long-term effort of getting tweens away from mobile games will pay off.

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rafael12104

Hmm. There is something going on here. Might be pointing to a much bigger phenomenon.

So, the game itself? The key is that it is super easy to jump in and play. You don’t need any experience in games at all. Seriously, none. There is plenty of loot and you point and shoot.
The only thing with a learning curve is building and a couple of clicks and you are doing that too.

And yet, that doesn’t make the game dumbed down. Experienced players know the nuances: Build to get the high ground. Short range, use a shotgun. Use Tac to pressure builders. etc. etc. So, there is strategy and tactics for that keeps experienced players engaged.

But what has really made Fortnite strong is the Twitch and Youtube generation. Yup, Youtube is mainstream and live stream now. Twitch is getting there and they feed off of each other. That is millions of potential customers watching how easy and fun it is to play Fortnite. Now, add popular personalities and celebs playing live and the shit sells itself. Ninja, middle of the road streamer, somehow managed to play Fortnite with Drake and became a millionaire, as in cash money, overnight.

So, PUBG tapped into this market but was still depending on Steam, but Fortnite went all in using livestreaming and left Valve out in the cold. Suddenly non-gamers and gamers alike are exposed to this game and can easily download and play it themselves.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah, and you actually don’t need much/any experience to potentially get #1 in a match. Obviously if you’re skilled at the game you can make much deeper runs more regularly and win games more consistently, but part of the ‘magic’ of Fortnite is that anyone can potentially win a match. That was one of the big takeaways from Ninja’s Vegas event, where like a 14 year old? kid managed to get first place in one of the matches amidst a bunch of pro level players and Ninja himself.

It’s kind of similar to poker in that regard where there are definitely nuances and skills picked up that increase one’s odds of doing better, but any random newbie or Joe Schmoe can potentially win even when playing against higher skill players.

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rafael12104

Agreed. Ninja’s event certainly proved that anyone can succeed and often times they do. But the interesting thing is that expert players aren’t complaining. There is no question that if you have some experience and are a smart player you can be more competitive.

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Bango on Laurelin

My teenage son plays a lot of Fortnite with his mates. Used to be into Overwatch & Fifa but it would seem that Fortnite is very popular.

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Sim

Hmm Streamers not mentioned. Twitch.tv influences.

Games this era shouldn’t ignore the impact that Streamers such as Lirik, shroud etc bring to the gaming scene.

When they switch games, the gaming scene changes with them. When they find Destiny 2 boring after trying it out, the entire gaming scene agrees with them.

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Armsbend

GGG attributed much of their success to the fact that popular youtuber Krippian played it for a year.

Tizmah
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Tizmah

This is true. And I don’t know if that is good for the gaming industry either…

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rafael12104

Exactly right. And they have proved it with Fortnite. Streamers are bringing leading the market. First, it was PUBG and now Fortnite.

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Oleg Chebeneev

F2P + Battle Royale hysteria

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Armsbend

Unlike Pokemon Go – Fortnite has taken good advantage of the outside of gaming media that has taken an interest in the game. I was watching CNBC today, a business only channel, and they were telling anecdotes about their kids wanting PCs for the first time. They talk about Fortnite every day on the channel. A channel about stock trading talking about a video game every day is kind of a big deal for a game. That means you have hit a different level of mass appeal. Once every five years or so this happens.

Pokemon got a week of major MSM coverage and lost it because frankly, the game and company kinda suck. Epic has played this one extremely well. Better than PUBG – that’s the difference. They were more prepared to market their game than PUBG was.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

It’s funny you say that, since I was keeping score of this, and Niantic was actually almost exclusively talking to non-gaming outlets and non-fansites about their game, and still seem to favor them. I think it has more to do with game design and how Fortnite is able to appeal to a broader audience, not just with cartoony appearances, but match-based gameplay that non-gamers can more easily understand.

MMOs (and I’d argue PoGO as well) only hit mainstream news when something goes wrong, like thousand dollar spaceships are stolen or influencers get clotheslined and robbed mid-stream.

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Armsbend

I respectfully disagree. Even older people know what Pokemon are, everyone likes cute things and it was on a smartphone – something almost everyone in the 1st world now has. Niantic captured lightning in a bottle with Go – hit mass appeal – much more than Fortnite initally imho – and lost it just as a fast. I believe they were unprepared for the level of success they wrought.

To a smaller degree Unknown had the issue.

Epic was salivating for it and hit the ground running. Even if they trail off they’ve already done an impressive job using this marketing boon to their advantage.

As a side note – I think the last game to effectively manage explosive marketing was Minecraft. Maybe by accident but they never made any mistakes.

You may be right today about bad news hitting a larger audience – but I consider WoW the MMO that was regular for a while on regular news sites. Mostly a negative bent – like this or that guy losing his family because he wouldn’t stop playing…but it was a different time.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

I think we’re talking about two different things here. I’m talking about who Niantic was talking to. As someone in the industry, I can tell you that gaming media and longstanding Pokemon fansites were ignored by Niantic for a very long time (and many still are).

You seem to be talking about game management, right? They were doing a good amount of interviews (with non-gaming sites) and got tons of media coverage, but server crashes, login issues, botters, scanners (and their shutdown), and spoofers affected basic gameplay that was already paper thin and not addressed soon enough to hold people’s attention.

I can totally agree with you if we’re talking game mismanagement. There’s no debating it, and I think only recently Niantic’s been better able to tackle that, but they lost a large portion of steam (and the playerbase) they initially had.

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Utakata

“That means you have hit a different level of mass appeal.”

Let’s put this to the test to see how broad of an appeal this has…

…so, any pink and pigtail options in the character creator? <3

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rafael12104

No. BUT you may be interested in the Pink Hair you can unlock or buy in the cash shop. Ponytail though…

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Utakata

…wait? With a kabillion peeps playing this thing, there is not one pigtail option? :(

tumblr_lpy4m2gU521qjxm01o1_500.gif
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Sorenthaz

With Fortnite? You don’t get to actually ‘create’ a character, and the default character model will randomly switch between multiple male and female variants of the Soldier class from Save the World (basically all character skins/models in Battle Royale are based off of the Soldiers). Only way to avoid that is by buying skins.

There is at least one pigtail skin which is the recently released ‘Zoey’ skin… but I’m pretty sure that requires buying the Battle Pass and getting several levels in it. Lol. Also it’s green hair instead of pink hair.

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Kross Vilalobos

Game came out as a little side thing that happen to come out at the perfect time to gain a large crowd due to PUBG. Since PUBG was on the warpath of becoming popular with Twitch and affiliates this game got a boost by proxy of being the “$FREE.99” version. I believe the same thing occured when Paladins slithered up at the right time when Overwatch was becoming popular.

The difference here is that Fortnite keep getting better updates and attention compared to “PUBG the Chinese and Russian no mans land” and surpassed PUBG in popularity. I do miss the PVE mode that I was more interested in though It defiantly feels like it was put on a shelf for the BR mode. :(

borghive
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borghive

This game was an accident, they took a game that had very limited appeal and interest, and turned it into a BR. They basically saw the success of PUBG, so they reinvented their game. The other reason this game is popular because it is FREE!!!!!

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Thomas Zervogiannis

1) Free
2) More action-ey, smaller maps (1/4th the size iirc)
3) Less glitches/bugs

I think the first two are the main reasons, and they are equally important (personally, reason (2) made me pick PUBG over Fortnite for myself).

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Namtubb

I had no intention of trying BR out, especially since I was a little bitter about the focus to pvp late last year, me being a Save the World player and all. But then out of nowhere a friend of mine starts talking about BR and stream highlights he would watch while at work. Now here we are playing BR from time to time, and the kicker is that my bud dislikes pvp in general.
Also, to me BR is like a lottery ticket you pay no money upfront for; if you lose it’s no big deal since you paid nothing to play, but if you win it’s the greatest feeling in the world….from what I hear -3-

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

That’s not the greatest feeling in the world. The greatest feeling in the world is when you get poison ivy, stay with me here, and then you get into a nice hot shower and let the water hit that area irritated by the urushiol.

Why it feels so good I have no idea but it does, the ONLY upside to getting a poison ivy rash.

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Skardon

As one who is still getting over a bad bout of systemic poison ivy, taking hot showers is discouraged because it opens pores and helps move the oil into the bloodstream, which was one of several missteps I made. The oil attaches to white blood cells and carries everywhere, including the lungs. I had to finally get a series of shots to combat it. just a word of caution.