What did Fortnite do right?
Fortnite skyrocketed its fame to the stars, becoming the most viewed game on twitch during the first months of 2018, surpassing PUBG, its greatest competitor that shares similar mechanics that made it another hit of last year. Generating a revenue of 126 Million Dollars only on February, the success of Fortnite is out of question, but rather ask what led to the favorable situation.
Did it offer something new?
Both Fortnite and PUBG seem to have put the massive survival games into world’s eyes, but they are walking explored lands as there was already a “silent trend” for this type of games, meaning that there were games like these with their very own community, but the videogame journalism didn’t really spare an eye for them.
H1Z1 was maybe the one that built a wider community, it’s split into “Just survive” a PVE (cooperative) in which players have to survive a world full of zombies, and “King of the Kill” the PVP, a battle royale with more than a 100 players fighting to become the last man standing. Fortnite resembles H1Z1’s game modes as it also has a PVE and PVP with the same objective, but Fortnite instead took good care of optimization of the game.
Perhaps you might think that Fortnite is H1Z1 with a building mechanic original from the game, but that as well has already being used before. In Rust and Miscreated, two survival online games that focus more on surviving rather than killing other players, players were able to gather resources in order to build a basic fortress to prevent them from being defenseless when running into other players; in both games, the process of both gathering resources and building was tedious as they keep players wandering around empty worlds and becoming more a walking simulator… or more like “I might die from boredom” simulator.
Fortnite took pieces of ideas that were already in the market and made them work together. The storm, which works the same as the gas in H1Z1, forced players to move constantly, rather than staying hidden or to explore freely (It is very important to control the freedom of the player, it gives direction to the game). The gathering and building mechanics that might have been inspiration from Rust or Miscreated, differentiate Fortnite from its main competitor and provide different possibilities to the way it’s played, as you can access to more places and build cover when you need them. Not only the structure placed by players, but also the buildings in the map can be modified to your needs in battle.
The reward system
When I used to play H1Z1, I tried to purchase some chest keys with real money, is one of the options that let you modify your avatar’s appearance; the other option was to win a game, which was very difficult, so I tried to go for the keys but I could not buy one with real money because I ran into an error even before you get to choose a payment method… how do you manage to make a game profitable when your source of income is not working?
So after that, I realized that I was not getting anything from the game, and I had to wait for someone to fix the ingame store to spend real money for some pretty fancy virtual clothes. Fortnite in the other hand, being a “free to play”, gives you different rewards even without the battle pass, and the leveling progress and challenges give motivation to players to keep playing even when they were not paying money. How is this model profitable? Simple, let’s put it like this:
Fast food restaurants had this idea that they wanted the customers to buy at the restaurant for takeout or to eat inside and leave as soon as possible in order to have the seats available for the next customers, but they started noticing that it was a better to keep customers in, so chances are they will consume other products. Franchises now offer some products at one dollar, it gets to be recommended and customers keep buying in the store.
Fortnite let’s players enjoy the game for free, leaving doors open for new players to download the game as other basis of active players recommend it, incoming players don´t need to spend a dime to play. The game gives rewards as it’s played, while offering the full experience by paying for the Battle Pass, which does not change how the game is played but offers personality to your avatar, plus, you can also buy other skins even without having to pay for the Battle pass; being this the factor of differentiation from PUBG. There’s a big discussion on which game is better, if the building mechanics are actually needed or well implemented or even needed, but numbers are not into discussion, and Fortnite gets the lead.