Fortnite is an online video game first released in 2017 and developed by Epic Games. It is available as separate software packages having different game modes that otherwise share the same general gameplay and game engine. The game modes include Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative shooter–survival game for up to four players to fight off zombie-like creatures and defend objects with fortifications they can build, and Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play battle royale game where up to 100 players fight to be the last person standing. Both game modes were released in 2017 as early access titles; Save the World is available only for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, while Battle Royale has been released for those platforms in addition for Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android devices.
While both games have been successful for Epic Games, Fortnite Battle Royale became a resounding success, drawing in more than 125 million players in less than a year, and earning hundreds of millions of dollars per month, and since has been a cultural phenomenon.
It is a fun game and takes awhile to become good. At the time of this writing, my kids are 6 and 10. I am unable to beat them…I don’t even come close. All players from around the world (100 players average) start out in a plane. You choose where you drop out over the map. Each player starts with no weapons or health or building materials. The object is to drop and find weapons, health packs and building materials as fast as possible. Each player tries to survive, becoming the last one standing. There are building, mountains, homes, rivers, bridges, and all kinds of things in FORTNITE. You chop down trees and destroy home with your pick axe to get materials to rapidly build wall, bridges and roofs for shelter against enemy gunfire.
The graphics for fortnite are amazing and cartoon-like. Known players such as NINJA (in his early 20’s) easily average $500,000 a month or more by playing this game on the live streaming site TWITCH.
Fortnite began from an internal game jam at Epic Games following the publishing of Gears of War 3 around 2011. Though it was not initially one of the developed titles during the jam, the concept of merging the construction game genre, representing games like Minecraft and Terraria, and shooter games arose, leading to the foundation of Fortnite. Development of Fortnite slowed due to several issues, including switching from the Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal 4, a deeper role-playing game approach to extend the life of the game, and a switch of art style from a dark theme to a more cartoonish style. Further, Epic was looking to get into the games as a service model, and brought in Chinese publisher Tencent to help; Tencent took a large stake in Epic as part of this, leading to the departure of several executives, including Cliff Bleszinski, who had been a key part of Fortnite‘s development. Fortnite‘s approach was changed to be Epic’s testbed for games as a service, and further slowed the development.
Near the same time that Epic released Fortnite into early access, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds had become a worldwide phenomenon, having sold over 5 million copies three months from its March 2017 release, and drawing strong interest in the battle royale genre. Epic recognized that with the Fortnite base game, they could also do a battle royale mode, and rapidly developed their own version atop Fortnite in about two months. By September 2017, Epic was ready to release this as a second mode from “Save the World” in the paid-for earlier access, but then later decided to release it as a free game, Fortnite Battle Royale, supported with microtransactions. This version quickly gained players, with over 10 million players during its first two weeks of release, and leading Epic to create separate teams to continue the Fortnite Battle Royale development apart from the “Save the World” mode, outside of common engine elements and art assets. This allowed Fortnite Battle Royale to expand to other platforms otherwise not supported by the “Save the World” mode, including iOS and Android mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch.
With both modes of Fortnite still considered to be early access, journalists have yet to provide comprehensive reviews of either mode.
The Save the World mode achieved over one million players by August 2017, just prior to the release of Battle Royale.
Fortnite Battle Royale, on the other hand, became a significant financial success for Epic Games, leading them to separate the teams between Save the World and Battle Royale to provide better support for both modes. Within two weeks of release, over 10 million players had played the mode, and by June 2018, just after the Nintendo Switch release, had reached 125 million players. Revenue from Fortnite Battle Royale during the first half of 2018 had been estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars per month.
Fortnite Battle Royale has also become a cultural online phenomenon, with several celebrities reporting they play the game, and athletes using Fortnite emotes as victory celebrations. A notable streaming event in March 2018, with streamer Ninja playing Fortnite Battle Royale alongside Drake, Travis Scott, Kim DotCom, and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, broke viewership records for Twitch to date, and led to Epic arranging a Fortnite Battle Royale pro–am with 50 pairs of streamers and professional players matched with celebrities at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018 in June 2018. Epic Games is working to develop organized eSports competitions around Fortnite: Battle Royale, including a Fortnite World Cup tournament in 2019.
There has also been growing concern over Fortnite Battle Royale‘s draw toward young children, emphasized with the release of the mobile client. Parents and teachers had expressed concern that students are being distracted and drawn away from school work due to playing Fortnite. Concerns have also been raised about the impact that playing a game involving repeated gun violence may have on young children.