Video game fans are fickle. This is what can be learned from the success of Fortnite. You have probably heard of it, even if in passing, and you would be forgiven for asking what exactly it is, and where it came from. After all, it wasn’t even a blip on the radar a year or two ago.
And wasn’t PUBG (Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds) the most popular game in the world? Well, it was, but no longer. Fortnite is now the biggest game in the world, with around 40 million players globally. And yes, that number is still growing.
From Humble Beginnings
Fortnite was created by Epic and was first released in July 2017, with no sign of being anything more than a moderate success. The focus of the game was on players mining resources from the environment, building structures, and defending against computer-controlled zombies. Notably, the game had no player versus player functionality.
But at the time that Fortnite was released, another game was already out, and seeing enormous success. This game was PUBG. The premise of PUBG was a simple one; 100 players parachute onto an island, scramble to find weapons, and fight until one person is left standing. Eager to get in on the success of the game, Epic made some quick adjustments to Fortnite, all but entirely copying the formula of PUBG.
But there were two differences that made Fortnite not only equal to PUBG, but also better than it.
Fortnite Comes Out On Top
Towards the end of 2017 and in the early months of 2018, PUBG and Fortnite were head to head in terms of popularity. But it wasn’t long before Fortnite surged ahead, leaving PUBG in second place. In February 2018 Fortnite took the lead in concurrent players, with around 3.4 million people playing the game at one time.
Why did it come out on top? Simply because it remained free to play, while PUBG had an upfront cost. Second; although PUBG released first, Fortnite showed a marked step up in terms of overall polish on quality.
Either way; don’t let the free to play tag fool you; in April it was reported that Epic earned a stunning $296 million from the game, via selling digital cosmetic items to players. The average person would have to hit a pretty big jackpot at an online casino Ireland has to offer to come close to making that much money in such an insanely short space of time.
Of course with massive interest directed at any one game, online streamers are quick to pick it up and run with it. Fortnite has been no different, and has smashed records not only in player numbers, but also viewer numbers.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has become the unofficial face of Fortnite on Twitch, streaming to around 100,000 viewers on a regular basis. When Ninja teamed up with well-known rapper Drake for a game, the two managed to make Twitch history by having around 635,000 viewers sign in. A Twitch record.
Not Without Issues
But regardless of the game’s enormous success, it has also stirred up no small amount of controversy. Anyone who has a pair of eyes can see that Fortnite all but directly took PUBG’s formula, and copy-pasted it. This was not lost on Bluehole, the creators of PUBG, who announced they had growing concerns with how close it was to their own game.
Chang Han Kim, CEO of Bluehole, expressed his concerns early on in the life of Fortnite, before the game had found major success. But it was not until it rose to its bigger levels of success that Chang Han Kim declared that they would be going ahead with the lawsuit.
It seems that their overnight success may have piggybacked off of PUBG, and although many would argue that they simply took a formula and made it better, there may well be a bit more controversy in the future – but this may serve to make it all the more popular- who knows?