One of our Digipigz, Josh, has written for the blog this week on a video game called Fortnite which has seen incredible popularity and has taken a different approach to the traditional business model video games. Josh is currently studying Media, English Language and Geography at A Level. He is looking to go to university and study marketing. His social media app of choice is Instagram and if he could have one super power, it would be time control.
I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark; you’ve probably heard of Fortnite by now. In what can only be described as the most popular game title of recent years, Fortnite has completely taken over the gaming scene and there are many suggestions that this phenomenon is here to stay.
Developed by Epic Games, Fortnite was first released as a co-op sandbox survival game, with a focus on fighting zombies. However, the Fortnite you are likely to have heard of today is in fact entitled ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’.
After witnessing the incredible success of an ever-growing genre through popular titles such as PUBG and H1Z1, Epic decided to create their own take on the battle royale genre using the mechanics of their already released game. Their spin-off consists of 100 players facing off, either alone or as part of a team, against enemies also equipped with a variety of weapons and materials which can be used to build forts and defences. Meanwhile, players must account for the oncoming storm, which through dealing lethal damage, continually confines them into a dense safe zone until only one team remains.
But what actually makes this game special and why is it on everybody’s lips? Well as a Fortnite player myself, I think that’s quite simple. The most important reason behind this is that Fortnite is, in fact, a free-to-play game. This has made the game widely accessible, whilst also allowing for the rapid growth of the huge user base we see today. In the past, gamers may have been put off trying out the latest gaming title because of a £50 price tag, however, it’s been made impossible to be at a loss when giving Fortnite a go. Worst case scenario, you decide that you don’t like the game and you simply never touch it again.
But how do the developers make money out of a game that’s free-to-play? Well once again, that’s also simple – through the use of microtransactions. Gamers are given the opportunity to buy cosmetic items to be used by their in-game characters for real life currency and it may surprise people that, this is an excellent source of revenue. From my personal experience, players are more likely to invest in a game with no initial cost as a way of supporting a game that they enjoy.
Furthermore, gamers benefit from vibrant outfits and gear that really sets them apart from other players and makes that victory celebration even more special. This business model is enhanced by the use of an item shop, in which cosmetics are available as part of a rotation. This encourages gamers to buy an item while they can as there are no guesses as to when it will next be available, if at all.
It’s important to note that these cosmetic items offer no competitive advantage, allowing users the choice as to whether they want to invest in the latest emote or backbling. Players have an equal opportunity to win whether they have the most expensive cosmetics or if they’ve never spent a penny on the game and this is extremely attractive to gamers. Instead, the ingredient for success is skill, which is something that can be achieved by all.
The success of this game should not, however, be solely accredited to its astute business model, but also the talent of its players. The viral success of the game has propelled many Fortnite gamers into the limelight, many of which have then contributed vastly to the success of the game themselves.
One example of this is the twitch streamer, Tyler Blevins, AKA, Ninja.
After building a following as a Halo gamer in recent years, Ninja has since become the online face of Fortnite. He has the most followers on Twitch, an online live-streaming service, with a current total of over 5.1 million. He has also gained over 4 million YouTube subscribers in just one month and it’s been reported that he makes over half a million dollars every month through his gaming.
Most recently, he could be accredited with Fortnite’s greatest marketing success to date. On the 14th March 2018, Ninja played Fortnite with hip-hop star Drake in front of a record 628,000 concurrent Twitch viewers. If it wasn’t already, this moment brought Fortnite into the mainstream and I believe it’s here to stay.
The future is bright for Fortnite. Cross-platform is the most recent feature Epic Games have announced and will allow mobile users to play with their friends on either a console, PC or both. This epitomises Fortnite’s desire to explore new avenues as a pioneer in the gaming industry. We are on the horizon of a new dawn for gaming and I suspect that this won’t be the last you hear of Fortnite, whoever you may be.
Written by Josh Faithfull