Fortnite: Battle Royale needs no introduction. The cartoony online shooter has been played by millions of gamers of all ages. Streamers and esports professionals have built entire careers on Fortnite, and in just a few short years, it has become as entrenched in gaming culture as Halo Where Pokemon.
Even though developers and publishers might wish it were otherwise, hitting the Fortnite level is like being struck by lightning; you can create conditions that will make it more likely, but what actually happens is beyond your control. here’s how epic games caught their billion dollar crush.
Who is Epic Games?
Epic Games has been around for a long time. Founded in 1991 under the name Potomac Computer Systemsthe company changed its name to Epic Megagames the following year and finally settled on its current name in 1999. Founder Tim Sweeney would later claim in an interview that the name change was meant to make the company seem bigger than it was, when in reality he was the only employee at the time Potomac became Epic MegaGames.
Epic has had moderate success with side scrollers like jill of the jungle and jazz jackrabbit throughout the 1990s, but its 1998 first-person shooter Unreal and its multiplayer tracking Unreal Tournament really put it on the map. The 2000s saw continued success, with the company laying off its Unreal Engine to studios around the world, and Epic’s macho sci-fi shooter armament of war spawning another successful franchise.
Fortnite: Save the World
After the release of Gears of War 3 in 2011, Epic held a game jam, an event where its developers came together to brainstorm and come up with new game ideas outside of the structures of their day-to-day projects. They came up with the idea of mixing the building mechanics of Minecraft with an online shooter, and the company liked it so much that it announced Fortnite at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards three weeks later, when he had barely started the project.
Originally slated for release in 2013, Fortnite: Save the World would be a co-op survival shooter where players would work together to scavenge materials for a base, which they would build and defend against AI-controlled zombies. The shiny, cartoony look would be a departure from the grimy, gory environments of Gears Of War.
Fortnite’s announcement came at a time of change within the gaming industry, and as the initial release date drew closer, Epic decided to release the title under a games-as-a-service modelwhich was gaining popularity among major publishers.
Epic has reached out to the Chinese giant Tencent, whose runaway success with the model gave them the expertise the studio needed; Tencent has agreed to help develop Fortnite in exchange for be allowed to buy forty percent of the company. The move to games as a service was a factor in Epic’s decision to selling the Gears Of War franchise to Microsoft in 2014.
Fortnite’s development process took several years as Epic continued to make changes to the project. The game was released in early access in July 2017. Four months earlier, another early access game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, had launched; the hundred-player free-for-all effectively brought a new genre to the fore, becoming the big hit of the summer.
Developers and publishers rushed to cash in on PUBG’s runaway popularity, and Epic was no different. By September, battle royale was set to be added to Fortnite: Save The World as an alternate game mode. A last second decision releasing Fortnite: Battle Royale as a standalone, free-to-play title turned out to be the right move, with the game racking up ten million downloads in its first two weeks.
In less than a year, there were approximately 125 million Fortnite playerswith around 40 million of them playing the game at least once a month.
Fortnite made over two billion dollars in 2018, his first full year. 2019 saw an increase in costs due to the growing needs of the global phenomenon, but the game still posted a profit of 1.8 billion dollarsmaking it the highest-grossing game this year.
Fortnite’s pop culture influence has grown to the point that it has attracted triple-A celebrity collaborations, with the likes of BTS and Ariana Grande appearing in the game.
Fortnite: Save the World Was fully released end of 2020, nine years after its announcement at the Spike Video Game Awards. Although it has its own dedicated fanbase, the majority of the franchise’s press, players, and resources are firmly dedicated to Battle Royale. Clearly the impact of Fortnite, its influence on big industry all the way up meme danceswill be felt for years.
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