I don’t think many people realize the feat that Epic Games has pulled off over the last 3 years. It’s mind-blowing when you really wrap your head around it. I’ve declared this game dead at least 3 times and yet it still comes back to haunt me month after month.
It just won’t die.
Since September 2017, Fortnite has yet to drop outside of the Top 5 Most-Viewed Games on Twitch on a weekly basis. Only one other game can make the same claim and it’s the #1 esport in the world, League of Legends. Every other game with a massive following (CS:GO, World of Warcraft, GTA V, Minecraft, Warzone, Among Us, etc) has fallen out multiple times.
Why is this “mind-blowing”? Well, let’s recap a bit.
Remember that originally Fortnite wasn’t supposed to have a Battle Royale mode. The game was originally just supposed to be the Save The World stuff which would have absolutely flopped because it’s really not that fun. But then Epic Games saw the success of PUBG and thought “huh, why don’t we make that?” Two months later, their free-to-play Battle Royale mode launched into beta.
This is genius move #1: the speed and timing of the launch. While every other triple-A company stayed the course on their in-process titles, Epic basically dropped everything for two months and made a brand new game. The next significant battle royale release didn’t happen until over a year later when Call of Duty introduced their “Blackout” mode, which you still had to buy Black Ops 4 to play. Also, they launched the beta in the perfect lull, right in the period where people are looking for a new wave of games to play but realize nothing big comes out until late October/early November. So why not try out the new free-to-play game that’s kinda like PUBG but for console? It was the perfect storm; not exactly what everyone wanted but just close enough that people tried it. And once they tried it, they were hooked.
And typically, that’s about the end of the story. We saw it this year with Fall Guys, right? They launched in the summer window before any of the big games released and saw massive success. But then about a month or so later, people jumped to the next new thing or back to their old standbys and Fall Guys hasn’t reached near the same level of success as that initial hype train.
This is genius move #2 and the reason that Fortnite is still relevant today: addicting post-launch content.
“Why is that a genius move nerd? Like fucking everyone and their mom nowadays does post-launch content you fucking dingo.”
Correct, but literally no one does post-launch like Fortnite. No one.
I’ve said it before, but no one does Battle Passes like Fortnite. Every single skin and emote that you unlock is instantly desirable, from the early John Wick skins to the new Mandolorian released today. Other companies will throw maaaybe one skin in a battle pass that looks cool and upload all the rest to the store to be bought directly. But not Fortnite. Fortnite fills their battle passes with incredible content and then somehow outdoes it on the store as well with even cooler skins.
And don’t forget that back in 2018, they used to update the game every single week with something new. Boogie bombs, port-a-forts, chug jugs, clingers, etc. The game never felt dull; it was always giving you new ways to play and win every season and every week. Meanwhile, Warzone will release a new gun like once every few months and then it takes at least 6-8 weeks to get balanced or nerfed out of existence.
The team at Epic Games hasn’t let their foot off the gas for over 3 years and as much as every other studio is trying to keep up with their own microtransaction-filled titles, they’re still miles behind. Even in the hellscape that has been 2020, Fortnite continues to find new ways to bring people into their game and retain them with big concert and movie events, crossovers with big brands like Marvel and Star Wars, and its own constantly evolving world.
I thought for sure this year with the launch of games like Warzone, Valorant, Fall Guys, and other hit titles that finally we could lay Fortnite to rest, but clearly, Epic Games had other plans. It’s far from a dead game.
In fact, it may never die.