Good news for Android players who felt left out of the initial batch of Fortnite beta invites: Epic Games announced that the test has expanded to additional devices, and you can read the full list on the website to see if your phone or tablet is included.
The studio gave a “Summer Skirmish midway recap” that was full of fun stats for those interested. Epic also said that improving server preformance “remains a top priority” during this skirmish series and that it wants to adhere to “simplicity, match tension, and upholding the integrity of battle royale” with this event.
Epic is reportedly working on tech that will match up players based on what type of peripheral that they use to play Fortnite, whether that be mouse-and-keyboard, touch screens, or controllers. And this is neither here nor there, but a massive sniper rifle is on the way to the game as well. Boom. Headshot.
If you follow the mainstream gaming media meta at all, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of sites, spurred on by Polygon, have been mulling over the concept of the backlog – you know, that pile (or digital list) of games you bought and haven’t finished or even tried. Did we even have backlogs before online platforms like Steam? Because I don’t really remember having one back then – I just played what I had. But then again, I’m also primarily an MMORPG gamer. So I don’t fret tooooooo much about the non-MMOs I bought cheap for a rainy day. Occasionally I’ll blast through my non-MMO list and do a sort of 15-minute speed-dating game with some untrieds, but mostly, I’m content with just having some novelty waiting for me when I need it.
My MMO and online game backlog, though, eats at me. I bought Project Gorgon this summer, for example, and haven’t tried it. Staxel and No Man’s Sky too. These kinds of games have a time limit, and yet they require a certain presence of mind and concentration to dig into properly that I haven’t had this season.
Do you have an MMO backlog, and if so, what’s on it?
Llamas, shopping carts, burgers, and golf: It’s never a dull moment around Fortnite. And now the insanely popular battle royale game has a new platform to dominate with the official beta release on Android.
Starting today, Android users can join their PC and iOS friends by downloading the free-to-play PvP title on their tablets and phones. Actually, the release is somewhat limited, with the initial rollout being limited to Samsung Note 9 or Galaxy Tab S4 users right now. Additional Android devices will follow at a later date.
Fortnite does support crossplay and “cross-progression” between PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mac, PC, and iOS.
Did you think that Fortnite’s announced decision to avoid the Google Play store was just about money? Just because, you know, that was one of the reasons explicitly cited? Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney is walking that back and arguing that it’s not about that and it’s not about clones. In his words, it’s a matter of keeping parity between all of the platforms, and since Google doesn’t offer any sort of marketing push like console titles, he doesn’t see why Epic should distribute the game through the Play store.
Sweeney stresses that there is cross-purchase functionality between the various platforms of Fortnite (which is broadly accurate) and that the company would avoid the iOS marketplace as well if it were possible. He also states that the company is aware of concerns over spending limits, which will supposedly be addressed via the game not locking in payment methods after individual purchases. No word about phone security or avoiding malicious software, though. It’s still going to be a controversial decision, but it doesn’t appear the company is walking it back any time soon.
Dynamic weather matters to you in MMOs, especially sandboxes. But what about in battle royales? When you’re hiding in your bathtub or running for your life, do you really care whether the sun is shining or little droplets of water are falling from the sky? Hope so, because it’s part of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ update 19, currently in testing. So is bullet penetration, zone reworks, and map ping markers.
That last is actually the subject of some serious uproar on Reddit from players who believe that being able to mark enemy sightings dumbs the game down and makes it easier for scrubs who don’t know anything about coordination, community, and the maps they’re playing on. PUBG Corp is apparently still working on resolving that.
Meanwhile, PUBG Mobile is getting a crossover with Mission Impossible that may strike BR gamers as akin to Fortnite’s Avenger’s mashup.
There were rumors about this
, but now it’s a known reality. Fortnite will not be launching on the Google Play store when it arrives on Android devices
, instead requiring would-be players to download the game and install it directly. According to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, the reason is pretty simple: Google takes a 30% cut of anything launched through the app store, and the company would rather keeps all of the money through in-app purchases rather than just 70% of it.
He also mentions that Epic likes having a direct relationship with its consumers, but let’s be cynical here for a moment. It’s worth pointing out that Fortnite is already making quite a bit of money without operating through any existing digital storefront; it’s also worth pointing out that Android systems actually allow you to sideload apps, while iOS does not. There’s no word on just when the title will be releasing, but if you’ve been watching the official store page to find out the day… well, you can stop doing that now.
Time for a quick-and-dirty roundup of some industry news that appeals to the numerologists among our reading audience!
We’ll start with a look at Steam, which is seeing a rather unprecedented drop in active users this year. The count has gone down from an average daily high of 18.5 million players in January to just 15 million per day this past week. Suspects in this dastardly crime caper are the popular PUBG and Fortnite.
Perhaps some of those users are lost in Sea of Thieves? The pirate simulator is crowing over the fact that it just crossed five million players total since the game’s launch this past spring.
Another possibility is that the new MapleStory M has them in its clutches. The mobile version of the hit Asian MMO racked up an amazing three million players in its first week of operation.
With every huge online game, there’s an accompanying rush of mainstream fuss over it – it’s in the rules.
For example, Polygon has a piece covering apparent outrage on outlets like CNN, USA Today, and the WSJ over the idea that parents are paying for Fortnite coaches for their children. “The reaction to [the WSJ] story tells us more about our relationships to class, play and trends than it does about what these parents and kids might be doing wrong,” the publication points out.
“There’s a strong incentive to recycle parenting stories that have played out across sports and games, like chess and even cheerleading, to focus on the hot new thing. And yet, if you replaced Fortnite with private lessons for nearly any other activity, you would likely get a less emotionally charged response. You can get tutors in magic, you know. There’s no public outcry about parents who pay to help their kids get better at juggling.”
5.10 update is live today with yet more uber weapons and the return of the jetpack in the new limited time mode dubbed Fly Explosives
. “BOOM! The new Fly Explosives Limited Time Mode is here and it’s a blast for the whole squad. Use Jetpacks to fly above your foes and rain down in this explosives only game mode,” says Epic.
The downside, of course, is that some of the de facto building nerfs of the last big patch, which have players grumping over the loss of the game’s uniqueness, are still in play. Epic did reduce the potency of one of the weapons causing grief, however – that’d be the P90 that made defensive structures crumble to dust and made players wonder why they bothered building them in the first place.
And if you’re keeping an eye out for the Android version? Well, it’s possible it’ll be a Samsung exclusive on the Galaxy Note 9 for a month. My Pixel 2 XL-toting self is not impressed by this turn of events. It’s also being rumored right now that the game might not actually land on Google’s Play Store itself and may in fact be an APK you download from Epic and sideload on your device, which seems kinda low-rent for one of the biggest games of the year.
PUBG’s Brendan Greene did an interesting interview with RPS last week with some quotes worth highlighting. For starters, he has an interesting take on the fact that Steam shows PUBG’s numbers have dropped by half over the last half year. Moreover, he says he doesn’t believe the loss of players can be attributed to Fortnite’s burgeoning popularity.
“Going off Steam metrics alone is really shortsighted because we’re across five or six platforms worldwide,” he says, pointing to the game’s Chinese popularity. “Internally we see the numbers and they’re not really dipping, it’s more stabalising. You know, even the Steam numbers have now stabilized. We know that yes, we’re not at our peak player count anymore but as I said, look at Dota – they got 1.2 million peak and now they’re back at 600k. You know, games go through this evolution of like having huge popularity and them coming down to a regular player count and that’s what I think you’re seeing with us.”
Greene also addressed toxicity in the game; his response echoes a lot of sandbox developers’ idea that while freedom breeds toxicity, it also engenders beauty and “interesting social things,” which is certainly true, but, uh, the toxicity is still a huge problem and might not actually be worth it. He does mention that “voice filtering technology” might be an option for handling gross and toxic voice chat.
SuperData put out a couple of reports and analyses last week that suggest Fortnite is “cannibalizing” other games, specifically in terms of revenue and Twitch viewership. It’s pretty obvious from Steam tracking that some games have taken a hit in terms of active/concurrent playerbase too. After all, “where you spend your game time” is very much a zero sum proposition. If you’re playing Fortnite, you’re not in something else, and not everyone in Fortnite is playing his or her first game ever.
Obviously, as an MMO player, you probably care at least a little about both revenue and playerbase in your chosen genre, as one is dependent on the other. Even if you don’t watch streams – and a lot of MMORPG players do not – you probably care about viewership on Twitch a little bit too because if nothing else, Twitch is advertising, and MMOs without successful promotion go nowhere.
I thought it was interesting, though, that other mainstream sites were far more focused on revenue than players. This is a very corporation-first mentality, right? They want huge revenue numbers. Duh. But my brain is looking at the Steam numbers. The body count is what I worry about, not whether they made eleventy-billion or eleventy-one-billion. Low and crashing pops kill online games, and we’ve seen it snowball before – and not every game is lucky enough to have a console launch up its sleeve to save it from doom.
Do you care more about an MMORPG’s playerbase or revenue?
EA is still eyeing battle royale, but maybe not the way you’re thinking. During the company’s quarterly investor call this week, everyone clearly had Fortnite and its runaway success on the brain. For example, one listener specifically asked whether Battlefield V might crib from Fortnite’s game plan. EA’s Blake Jorgensen dismissed the idea for the upcoming Battlefield V, clinging to the company’s past comments that the game’s battle royale mode will indeed be just a mode. However, he also hints that the company is considering a separate standalone battle royale game outside that franchise.
“We’re interested in experimenting with a free-to-play standalone game that might be in a shooter genre or another genre,” was his answer. “But I don’t think that’s how we’re looking at the Battlefield stuff right now.”
The company’s net revenue was $1.14 billion, above guidance by $57 million; operating expenses were up “primarily driven by new product development as [EA] continue[s] to invest in new IP.”
Last week, down in the comments of an innocuous post about gamers being nice in Fortnite, a couple of MOP commenters requested a column where MMO gamers could essentially submit “stories about random good interactions [they’ve] had with other players.” Skeptical me is doubting the viability of a column like that; after all, we already do a lot of positive coverage of charities, events, good deeds, and even obituaries for devs, and that’s just not the stuff most people click on. (Patches are the big ones, although controversies are big too for obvious reasons. And One Shots and WRUP are still great!)
But I’d certainly like to be wrong. “Positive news” websites do indeed exist in the real world and can be truly inspiring, so maybe “Massively Overjoyed” would have some traction too. We thought we’d put it to the test here in Overthinking: I’ve asked the writers to share one story about a great random interaction they’ve had with another player. And then I’ll invite you all to do the same thing down in the comments. How much do you really want to hear about the positive stuff?