Imagine you have a product and you estimate that a quarter of a billion
people will like to use it and you let everybody have it for free. How much money did you lose ? Apparently not much if your product is a video game. Fortnite released in 2017 can vouch for this. This game took the world by a storm when it released three years ago. With more than 75 million active monthly users the game is making big bucks for its developer Epic Games. It is also the reason why Epic has a game distribution platform now, the Epic Store. The game has two versions Save the World and Battle Royale. Battle royale is where 100 players strive to survive in a Hunger Games kind of environment and is the main reason for its popularity.
Until now Japan and China were the main revenue generators for video games. Fortnite has changed this by excelling in the west. Fortnite is the Star Wars o f video games. Remember how Star Wars’ revenue majorly came from the merchandise it sold, similarly Fortnite makes revenue through in-game purchases. Everyday new items are put on sale. Players can buy costumes and show up as a medieval knight or a skeleton. The people who design these costumes are one of the most important members of Fortnite’s development team. There are also dance moves to be bought. There is an angry dance, a happy one and so on. Battle passes are sold to track progress in optional challenges. These purchases don’t give players any competitive advantage at all but Epic is reportedly making more than $300 million a month from these, such is the popularity of the game. The game has such an impact that 50 years from now people may still be using its references.
On March 14, 2018, a pro-gamer who goes by the name of Ninja broke record on Twitch f or most-viewed stream by a single player. The game was joined by NFL rookie turned gamer JuJu Smith-Schuster, rapper Travis Scott and pop superstar Drake. The stream hit 628,000 viewers at its peak and trended on twitter. Ninja is making an average of 500k USD a month from streaming these games, according to his interview to CNBC.
The popularity of the game also came with many challenges. Initially when Fortnite:Save the World was released, it didn’t get much attention
from gamers. Epic then released the Battle Royale version. This version had many similarities with another famous game distributed by Tencent called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG. A lawsuit was filed on Epic by the developers of PUBG and was later dropped for some unknown settlement. Developers of Fortnite had to continuously release updates so that the game doesn’t start to bore people. Till now they’ve been pretty successful.
The impact this game has had is so big that even academics are using it for educational purposes. Henri Drake, a doctoral student in physical oceanography at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, is inviting scientists to discuss climate change while streaming fortnite matches on Twitch and Youtube. The reason being that Fortnite is very popular amongst teenagers and it is this group that scientists want to educate on climate change. People can discuss important issues while virtually murdering virtual enemies. How cool is that. Teachers in classrooms are trying to get the attention of their students by using Fortnite references. “Caesar was nerfed by his friend Brutus”. Not only does a student lost in his daydreams starts listening to his teacher but also starts relating to him, a win-win for everybody.
Since the advent of time, parents have had issues that their child is wasting too much time playing with toys. Video games have somewhat replaced the toys in the 21st century. Fortnite is a bright colorful game with cartoonish violence and no sign of blood. It also helps children understand teamwork. Parents hence have had little problem when their child consumes the game for limited durations of time. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Even though it took millions of dollars and years in R&D to develop fortnite and it still is being continuously updated, it may be hard to maintain its popularity in the upcoming years. But the impact that this game has made into the everyday life of 250 million earthlings will be long remembered. It may become MySpace to some Facebook or may be the last man standing. Only time will tell.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.