Over the weekend, I was chatting with the mom of my son’s friend and let slip that I’m a video game blogger. Her reaction? “What do you think of Fortnite? Is it so big because it’s free-to-play?” Our kids aren’t even old enough to play this game, and she knew all about it and wondered about its runaway success.
The truth is, there are lots of reasons for Fortnite’s success, more than I had time to mumble out in small talk. Jamie Madigan on The Psychology of Video Games blog took a stab at answering the same question this week, and his answer is probably not what anybody is expecting.
“I think Fortnite Battle Royale’s secret sauce has to do with something that’s kind of obvious once you think about it: random chance. I don’t mean that Fortnite’s success is due to luck. Rather, I mean that Epic smartly leveraged the power of random rewards in their design for the game, and that’s one of the main reasons it’s so popular.”
Fortnite’s season 5 is live now with its all-new battle pass to turn your free-to-play experience into dress-up battle royale. We know that’s what you’re really all about. Epic is touting the new all-terrain go-kart, flintlock weapons, rift content for battle royale players, and the Challenge the Horde mode in on the PvE-oriented Save the World side of the game in today’s patch.
On the business side of things, Epic Games will be surprising contributors to the Unreal Engine Marketplace, as it’s changing up how much of a cut those player modders are receiving from their submissions. No, Epic isn’t taking money away; it’s actually increasing the player profit percentage from 70% to 88%, and it’s doing so retroactively, going back four years and paying modders the difference from those years. Now that’s a smart way to engender goodwill for one of the biggest games in the world.
Even though Fortnite is all about the battle royale PvP these days, its world does change and develop, offering players tantalizing mysteries such as a falling comet and a missing Durr Burger mascot.
Players have wondered what happened to the burger sign following rifts that have been opening up all over the island. Now we know — it popped up in the very real Californian desert alongside a police car and a tent. This really weirded out the photographer who discovered it, as he was not a Fortnite player. Later visitors encountered an “Agent” character who handed out small notes that encouraged players to call a number.
This is all part of a new ARG for Fortnite, which players have been attempting to solve as a community. It looks like some sort of promotion for the newest season of the game. You can follow the developments on Reddit and on the Game Detectives wiki.
It turns out that when you download third-party hacks designed to help you cheat in a game, the people you are downloading them from may not be paragons of moral integrity! They may actually be enormous turdnozzles. This is so obvious that it shouldn’t seem like it requires a mention, and yet it is also a lesson that Fortnite players have apparently had to learn when several players downloaded an aimbot hack that, quelle surprise, infected their computers with malware.
The whole thing was originally uncovered by Rainway developers who found the source of the unexpected ads to be a rootkit installed by the aforementioned hacks. In summary, cheating is bad and makes bad things happen to your computer. In lighter news, it appears that bad things are happening to the actual game world of Fortnite as a preview for the next big event in the game, so perhaps someone found a way to install a nasty virus on the very source code of existence there.
Fortnite’s latest patch is here, and its chief addition is new weapons: a new pistol, new stink bombs, and even a Tommy gun. New flag skins just in time for Independence Day are also on order. Not mentioned in the notes is the Playground limited time mode, which was supposed to roll out last week but was sidelined due to bugs. The short version was apparently “system performance” problems, along with server capacity issues and matchmaking problems “specific to the LTM,” but it’s up now.
“Success! We’ve completed deploying our servers containing the improved matchmaking changes. All players can now join in on the fun in the Playground LTM. Please remember to change your region back to “auto select” and verify you’re on your preferred region. There is the possibility that you may encounter an error, as many players are attempting to join this game mode. Just attempt to requeue until you find a match.”
Oh yeah, and as I type this, my nephew is sitting next to me playing Fortnite and pointing at the ever-widening crack the sky. I’m sure that’s not going to be a problem in the future. Nope.
Playing a game of linking awful online activities to white supremacist movements is like the worst possible variant of the old Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, but it’s important to note. You know that guy in your Overwatch match who’s spouting out a whole bunch of offensive slurs? He may very well be there to actively recruit for white supremacist movements according to former white supremacist leader Christian Piccolini.
In a recent AMA Piccolini explained that operators are there using various techniques to draw in vulnerable people, with various “recruiters” in basically any popular online game. Piccolini specifies Fortnite, Minecraft, and Call of Duty while also noting that it’s really any popular online title with enough people playing. This probably doesn’t come as any major surprise to people who have long followed the path of watching “trolling” racism and misogyny used as a front for actual racism and misogyny, but it’s certainly another smoking gun.
The reason you won’t be able to play Fallout 76 with your friends on consoles is because of Sony, according to Bethesda studio director Todd Howard. A recent interview with a German site had Howard claiming that while Bethesda would like to do cross-platform play, “Sony is not as helpful as everyone would like.” Bethesda declined to elaborate on the statement when asked for further clarification by Polygon.
Cross-platforming issues have been in the news quite a bit recently, with Fortnite’s launch on Nintendo Switch being coupled with the surprising lack of cross-platform play for PlayStation 4 players. The last statement from the company was that it was “looking into possibilities,” so it remains to be seen both whether or not those possibilities will bear fruit and whether or not they’ll be resolved in time for everyone to enjoy Fallout 76 together.
You might think that gathering a bunch of Fortnite players in one spot to watch a rocket launch would lead to a whole lot of players shooting one another and very little actual watching of said rocket launch. But according to Polygon, players were actually being polite and watching as everything went down. After all, there’s time to go back to royale battling after the one-time server event took place, right? No one’s going anywhere.
There’s a video just below showing what the event looked like, along with some screenshots of the launch and what took place. It’s not totally clear what happened, but players will likely find out more once the game’s next seasons starts up on July 12th. We can only imagine the burst of violence on the site right after the launch.
After it looked like H1Z1 was being rendered obsolete by last year’s rise of PUBG and Fortnite, having lost 90% of its playerbase by February of this year, the battle royale title is making a surprising comeback on both PC and console. In fact, Daybreak announced this week that H1Z1 has seen over 10 million PlayStation 4 users since the game went into open beta on the platform back in May.
Here’s another big number: 102 million hours, which is how much time PS4 players have put into the game so far. Daybreak is so pleased with the response that it is gifting current and former PS4 players with a free Darkfire pickup truck and Sunrise parachute.
H1Z1 wants to bring its Revive game update to the PS4 this week, which includes the titular mechanic, an airstrike carpet bomb throwable, and aim acceleration options. Some issues have arisen and the team said that it is working on them and hoping to get the patch out soon.
Under great amounts of pressure to reverse its anti-crossplay stance with the PlayStation 4, Sony has finally capitulated somewhat by saying that it is looking at possibilities and trying to come up with a solution that will allow its console to play nice with others. Now, what that solution will look like and how it will function is anyone’s guess.
“You can imagine that the circumstances around that affect a lot more than just one game,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment America CEO Shawn Layden. “I’m confident we’ll get to a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community, while at the same time supporting our business.”
While the PlayStation 4’s lack of crossplay isn’t exactly new, its stonewalling of Fortnite accounts from other systems brought it under heavy fire this month from players and media. Additionally, Microsoft and Nintendo recently released an unprecedented “Survive Together” crossplay ad that took aim at Sony by excluding the company altogether.
It looks like the big legal feud between PUBG and Fortnite is already drawing to a close, as Bloomberg reports PUBG Corp. has withdrawn its lawsuit against Epic Games.
PUBG Corp. lodged its lawsuit in January, claiming that the Fortnite company had plagiarized PUBG’s interface and in-game items, which wasn’t the wildest claim around, as Bluehole had previously pointed out Epic’s potential for conflicts of interest thanks to its stewardship of Unreal Engine, on which both games are built. Plus, Fortnite was originally launched last summer as a co-op, PvE-centric building game but quickly added a battle royale mode in an apparent attempt to catch up to PUBG and had swept past PUBG’s saturation in just a few months, setting records left and right.
Neither PUBG Corp. nor Epic has discussed the case or PUBG Corp. reasons for dropping its suit. PUBG Corp.’s lawsuit against Netease apparently soldiers on.
Remember the old adage that less than 10% of a free-to-play playerbase pay for the other 90%? A poll conducted by LendEDU and Pollfish attempts to cast some shadow on that assumption. The groups say they surveyed 1000 hardcore Fortnite players and determined that almost 70% of them had spent money on the game – an average of $84 apiece for those who did, the majority of that on outfits and characters. More than a third of them had apparently never spent money on a game before.
However, it seems to have been a self-reported survey of highly invested people who identified Fortnite as their primary game, so it’s not really a fully random cross-section of all Fortnite players; one might assume that the type of people who consider themselves Fortnite fanatics and would answer a survey like this would be exactly the type to pay into the game and thereby skew the results.
May 2018 was good to Fortnite, again, SuperData’s latest global revenue report shows, but its growth rate may be coming to a middle. “Fortnite hits a new high but growth is slowing down,” the research firm says in today’s report. “We estimate that Fortnite made $318 million across all platforms in May, up 7% from April. The majority of growth came from console, with mobile and PC both coming in flat compared to April.”
On the PC side, Dota 2 came out of nowhere to return to the list at #6, bumping World of Warcraft down a tick and Hearthstone off completely. League of Legends continues to rule the roost.
On the console side, Fortnite is still at the top; both Overwatch and Destiny 2 have returned to the top 10 as games like Far Cry 5 and Battlefield have fallen off.
And on mobile, Pokemon Go has resurged, as it always does in summer in the northern hemisphere, as it’s gathered up more players than ever. Fun side note: Remember Netease’s Knives Out, one of its two PUBG clones on mobile? It’s in 5th place globally on mobile, just behind POGO, so PUBG’s lawsuit isn’t so bonkers after all.