Fortnite From Afar

It’s been here and it’s been happening for sometime now. Everyday I find myself hearing screams coming from down the hall or even in the rooms above my dorm. My boyfriend does it and so does all of his friends. I find it absolutely crazy how emotional people get about it. I even see laptops in O’Neill watching videos about it and apparently Drake was doing it recently. Fortnite Battle Royale has made a monstrous impact on college campus’s everywhere and with teenagers as well, but is it really as successful as it seems?

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I’d say I’m less annoyed than this girl and much more intrigued by the publics obsession

When asking what the big deal is, some of the responses start to overlap. “It’s basically like a combination between Call of Duty, Minecraft, and Hunger Games,” is what I hear most. It is a third-person shooter game that incorporates scavenging items and building miscellaneous structures to the best of your ability. In seeing the game itself, it really does seem eventful as 100 players parachute onto an island and try to outlive everyone else until one victor is left. From what I’ve been told, if you go to Dusty Depot, you’re a psychopath and if you can make it out of Tilted Towers on top, you have a chance to go far in the game.

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Third-person aspect of the game

In diving a bit deeper than consolidated conversations with the broskis, I’ve found that the strategy of release for this game was actually quite different from typical games. Call of Duty WWII was released in the fall for $60. If you wanted to download Fortnite right now, you can do it for free.

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The creators of Fortnite, Epic Games, originally had the download available for $40 in July, but with little success, they decided to offer the game for free. The company is attempting to mimic that of the App Store success where a game itself is free, but there are potential micro transactions that can accumulate a profit. For example, the high school version of myself could always buy more lives in Candy Crush. Comparatively, Fortnite players can purchase outfits and dance moves for a small price.

At a glance it seems that it would be difficult for Epic Games to pull a profit, but considering they had registered 40 million players recorded in January it does not seem impossible to manage some financial success, according to the Wall Street Journal. Despite the larger volume of players, the company has not reported any literal numbers regarding its revenue associated with the game. So while it has potential to be successful and change the transaction model of video games, it still needs to cover its growing costs.

With so many players rushing to popular battle grounds like Anarchy Acres and Haunted Hills, Epic Games needs to support their servers, which handle the traffic for the online game. Fortnite seems to be currently running into issues when the servers are down and complaints add up regarding lag during gameplay experiences, causing pain and hysteria to many. With so many players online, it is really unclear if Epic Games is pulling a profit.

In looking at their competitors, it is interesting to see their reactions to the notion of releasing a free console game. Competitor Take-Two Interactive Software, criticized Epic Games releasing a free game claiming that only a fraction of the players makes in-game purchases. However, the popularity does pose a risk for publicly traded game publishers. According to KeyBanc Capital Markets, a 10% decline in player engagement could correlate to a 5%-7% dip in earnings-per-share over the course of a year.

Additionally, some game producers risk player dissatisfaction when introducing in-game purchases. In some of my conversations with gamer friends, it seems that most are annoyed when Call of Duty releases a “map-pack” due to the price, but love new levels to explore and play.  It really depends on what price points companies set and what features players can or need to buy. According to WSJ, Star Wars Battlefront, a popular game by Electronic Art received harsh backlash from players for its in-game purchases and eventually decided to reverse their decision. It is unclear if a free console game would cumulate similar responses given that it’s, ya know, free.

So while I still have more research to do on this game, I’m curious as to what you guys think regarding its apparent popularity, but unclear financial success. Please comment below your thoughts on the matter and I’m looking forward to responding! Also, after telling some friends that I’m writing my blog about their beloved game, it seems mandatory that I attempt to play a few games so keep an eye on for updates on my twitter!

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How I imagine myself looking the first time I attempt playing Fortnite

 

Sources

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-fortnite-defied-convention-and-became-a-hit-1518786000?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=3

https://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2018/03/09/so-many-games-so-little-time/

10 comments

  1. mikecarillo111 · ·

    I cracked up at this post and also became very intrigued. I’ve played the game maybe five times and although I lost so fast I didn’t know what happened, the game itself was electric. I found myself getting super angry and letting out one yell before quitting the game. Also, like yourself I would spend that quick five dollars on Candy Crush in high school thinking I could get ahead of my buddies. Fortnite is extremely interesting in the fact that it is the first console game that leads gameplay while being free. I don’t think this will be the future of the gaming industry as most games have always been in the $45-60 range and the profit margins tend to be small. However, if the popularity of Fortnite continues to be blown up by celebrities such as Drake, Travis Scott, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, I think it could be the future. (P.S. From what I’ve been told, if you go to Dusty Depot, you’re a psychopath and if you can make it out of Tilted Towers on top, you have a chance to go far in the game had me laughing out loud.) Great post!

  2. danmiller315 · ·

    I have thought of Fortnite just like a start-up. They are allowing users to begin playing the game for free, which allows them to build a customer base. It then uses them as a test group to work out the bugs during game play. Then, once they feel that they have a good enough product, they will feel confident in trying to command a premium price for the game. While I don’t necessarily believe that this is a good business model in most instances, I was hopeful that Epic Games might be able to be successful in this endeavor. That was until Tara just said that Epic Games made it a free game after it did not get enough people to download it for $40 in the summer.

    Since my roommates and I have started playing Fortnite, I have noticed that the game play has gotten smoother and the graphics have gotten noticeably better. This tells me that the creators are working to improve the product, which is a good sign. My roommates have considered purchasing a costume for $10, but they eventually always decide against it because what’s the point? The costume doesn’t provide anything additional to enhance the game play besides the humble brag of building a giant tower while dressed as a teddy bear.

    If Epic Games were to ever profit off of Fortnite, I think that it would need to do so by creating a secondary map. The one thing that I don’t like about the game is that it is the same map every time, unlike a Call of Duty game where you have the ability to compete in different environments. Adding the option of purchasing a new map as an add-on in the game I think would be enticing for gamers because it would add a new dimension to the game that does not currently exist.

  3. NeroC1337 · ·

    To be honest, the success of this game is also something intrigues me. So as a gamer, I could fill in some details. First, the type of game, now so called BR (Battle Royale), which like you described similar to Hunger Game, had its first appearance of more than 10 years ago. In 2007, I believe the BR was a mod in the game called Arma III, a military shooting games. Then BR types took off with games like H1Z1 and recently PUBG. Second, the skins and in-game transaction have also a long history back. I believe the skins and in-game item really popularized in North America because of the game CSGO and the infamous in-game skins, where a single skin could be priced at $2000+. And lastly, Fortnite isn’t a new game that just popped up out of nowhere. The game was originally designed as a cooperative zombie fighting game. The name Fort-nite suggests to build a fortress so when the night comes, you could defend yourselves against zombies. And because of the recent BR game bandwagon, Fortnite switches to become a BR game. Therefore, nor was the idea of BR, or in-game item, or the game itself something out of blue.

    Now, I believe that Fortnite’s success is really due to the timing and the high-quality of content generation. The timing, Fortnite launched right when there were a lot of dissatisfactions against the leading BR game Player’s Unknow Battleground (PUBG) regarding server lagging, in-game cheating, cost of the game, FPS drop, etc. It was smart for Fortnite to turn to a free-game model and really lower the switching cost when the gamers are dissatisfied with their current BR game. Then large volume of people start to switch, which cause the social effect and snow balling more and more gamers into the game. On the other hand, Epic game also makes sure that their art designer could create some really good-looking skins every week, so that somehow you would buy then. Newly created and also time-limited skins will be available each week for gamers to grab.

    The future for Fortnight? I think it will live a short life. I think the BR game type is at its peak. As a gamer myself who has been through almost all the BR game, the only reason that I still play BR is because of my friends are playing. But personally, I start to lose interest in the BR type game, and soon many others would feel the same.

  4. mpduplesmba · ·

    Your opening instantly flashed me back to my undergrad years of spending my free time playing Call of Duty, Madden, and FIFA with all my room/dorm-mates…ah, the good old days. Sadly I have only played video games a handful of times in the last few years so I’m beyond Fortnite’s target audience, but even I can’t help but hear all of the hype surrounding this game. Maybe I’ll try it out one of these days..
    It will be interesting to see whether this game is just a fad or if its creator can make money. To @danmiller315‘s comment, I can’t imagine they will one day flip a switch and start charging for the game. All of the existing players who are used to the free game will revolt. They could have a free version and a premium version, but I suspect the free version would reign supreme. Not sure how much revenue potential there is in micro-transactions if the purchases don’t provide the player with any competitive advantage. Or they could turn to in-game advertising, but that would likely distract from the game. It’s crazy how many companies are in the mode of get users first, then figure out how to make money.

  5. Addison LeBeau · ·

    I’m so excited to see this post! I loved that you wrote it from a perspective I share – I have never played Fortnite and I don’t plan on it any time soon. However, the recent buzz I’ve heard surrounding the game has immediately grown my interest. In that respect, I really admire the marketing strategy. By releasing this free game that draws everyone in, they’ve become a ‘viral’ sensation that continues to self-promote. I will be very curious to see what other video games follow this ‘app style’ release tactic.

  6. kennedy__bc · ·

    I would have to agree with @neroc1337 when he said that Fortnite is most likely a fad college game. Without the recent social media outpour from accounts such as TFM and Barstool Sports I believe Fortnite would not have survived. Yes I’ll agree that at the moment Fornite has locked down their target audience of high school to college aged players but once our generation grows bored of the gameplay they will look to the newest “in” game to focus their interest.

  7. oliverhowe14 · ·

    As a player of the game I keep up with it on a daily basis. The player base keeps growing as people download it for free. Never has there been a console-based game that has gone this viral this quickly, and this has to do with it being free. When I was looking into getting the game, it was a a paid game, so I didn’t buy it. However, as soon as it went free I downloaded it. Also as a response to @Addison LeBeau, PUBG – the game Fortnite kind of took their gameplay from – just went mobile this weekend to try to get fans back from Fortnite.

  8. RayCaglianone · ·

    It’s funny, I definitely consider myself a gamer but I completely missed the memo on Fortnite – I haven’t tried it yet and its popularity totally took me off guard. One day I had never heard of it, the next day it was basically the biggest game in the world! It’s interesting though that you talk about micro-transactions because they have been extremely controversial among gamers, especially within the last couple years. Among my friends that play Fortnite, I’ve heard that although micro-transactions are part of the game, they aren’t as overbearing as some of its contemporaries. The biggest game that comes to mind is Star Wars Battlefront II, a game that came out last fall. Even though many liked the gameplay, the majority of fans were primarily angry that the developers incentivized spending real money to progress in the game’s multiplayer, making it take absurdly long amounts of time to unlock all content through honest play. The big difference there: the game already cost $60. It was an utter PR disaster for publisher EA, likely hurting sales and definitely hurting trust in the company, and serves as a cautionary tale to the Fortnite team.

  9. tuckercharette · ·

    Tara this post was absolutely priceless. While most of the comments above covered a lot of my thoughts I think the point that’s most important is actually related to scale. When speaking about millions of tweets in the TED talk last week, millions of players can actually be a great way to work micro transactions and only fractions of original $60 cost of a game need to be charged to bring in revenue. While server costs can be costly, usually games struggle because of the initial cost of developing the game and maintaining design of it.

    Fortnite has done a great job from bringing the FPS of the game up from 30 to 60 which makes it feel a lot smoother. Furthermore, they have continued to bring out more and more content, enticing people to come back for more (guns, extended map, challenges). Clash of Clans made lots of money using this platform on the iPhone and Fortnite is one of the only games I’ve seen with such widespread adoption on Console. This model has been done a lot on PC with games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 but Fortnite is definitely breaking ground in the console space.

  10. realjakejordon · ·

    The above comments pretty much cover everything there is to say about Fortnite, but I think there is one more point to be made. Fortnite has done an excellent job of creating the perception of “the good guy” of gaming. Of course they made the game free initially because some profit is better than no profit (with costume purchases and things like that), but I think they have become a lot more. When other creators like Call of Duty seem to be nickel and diming people with map pack purchases and things like that, Fortnite has come out with almost weekly updates as part of their free beta, and I think people have noticed. Its not how business generally works, but my roommates and I agreed we would chip in and buy Fortnite if it ever stopped being free, if for no other reason than to thank the creators for the hours theyve put in. Fortnite is something new and different. Maybe theyre on to something, maybe they have no plan at all. I guess time will tell.

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