In 2017, Epic Games released the soon-to-be phenomenon known as Fortnite. A few months after it’s release, it was all anyone could talk about, especially teenagers. In any school, the conversations were predominantly about Fortnite. So what is this game, and how did it become so mainstream so quickly?
The game was announced at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, with two rounds of alpha (test runs) released in December 2014 and March 2015. The game was publicized on July 25, 2017, and its Battle Royale mode was put out on September 26th 2017, according to the GamePedia Fortnite Wiki. Since September Fortnite’s popularity skyrocketed at incredible speed, with ten million players only two weeks after the game’s release, and 125 million a year after its release. In the month of April 2018 alone, the company made almost 300 million dollars, most of the money coming from in-game purchases. Epic games is now worth approximately eight billion dollars, compared to the 825 million dollars they had in 2012, before Fortnite’s arrival, according to IGN.
Fortnite has received huge endorsements, from day-to-day Fortnite players to celebrities. Fortnite Instagram and YouTube gameplay videos have millions of views, and many athletes have been doing the infamous Fortnite emotes (dances that players can purchase in the game) after winning their sports games or gaining points. Many celebrities are known to play Fortnite; with a live streaming event that was held in March 2018, in which celebrities, Drake, Travis Scott and NFL athlete JuJu Smith-Schuster, played along one of the most renowned Fortnite players, Tyler Belvins, known by his gamer name as Ninja. The livestream broke the record for the most-viewed live stream on Twitch, the streaming website where it was shown. In June 2018, a Fortnite Pro-Am event was held where celebrities streamed their gameplay, and thousands of people came to watch. In 2019, a Fortnite World Cup tournament is being expected to take place, with various other organized Fortnite eSports competitions, according to Wikipedia.
So what makes Fortnite so popular? Battle Royale. Battle Royale is a fairly new video game concept, in which players land on a large map, and start with nothing. They must collect materials, weapons and shield to fight other players, and be the last one standing out of 100 players. In Fortnite, Epic Games gave their own twist on Battle Royale, by adding a building element, in which players collect materials, such as wood, stone, and brick, and use it to build structures, hence the name, Fortnite. The game has challenges players need to complete, in order to be able to level up, and it has many skins, axes, and emotes available for purchase in the Fortnite store. It also includes multiple game modes, which often change over time.
Kalen Zhou, a student at Riverside Secondary and Fortnite player, said, “I enjoy Fortnite because the Battle Royale mode is a very simple concept, unlike other shooter games. The animations are also very clean, so it looks nicer than other video games.” Although Battle Royale is the most popular game mode, there is also a Save the World mode, in which players follow a story and they fight aliens. But what made Fortnite’s popularity skyrocket after the release of Battle Royale, is the fact that the Battle Royale Mode is free. Players could have all the freedom of playing their Battle Royale game, with no additional charges, unless they make any in-game purchases. Another aspect that increased Fortnite’s popularity was with its release of mobile versions for iPhone and Android phones.
In May 2018, a similar game by the name of PUBG filed a lawsuit against Fortnite for copyright infringement, according to The Verge. PUBG was released a few months before Fortnite, and many claim to see many similarities in the two games, to the extent of players claiming Fortnite copied PUBG. The lawsuit was mysteriously dropped after a few months. It is unknown if a settlement was made, or if it was dropped.
Fortnite has become a cultural phenomenon, something almost everybody has heard of, whether young or old. A game rising to such popularity in such a short amount of time has only happened a few times in video game history, making Fortnite one that will be remembered in the history books.
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