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Fortnite Battle Royale is a free-to-play battle royale game developed and published by Epic Games. It was released as an early access title for Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in September 2017, for iOS in April 2018, and the Nintendo Switch in June 2018, with plans for an Android version in Q2 or Q3 2018. It is a spin-off from Epic's Fortnite, a cooperative survival game with construction elements (often referred to as its "Save the World" mode).
As a battle royale game, Fortnite Battle Royale features up to 100 players, alone, in duos, or in squads of up to four players, attempting to be the last player alive by killing other players or evading them, while staying within a constantly shrinking safe zone to prevent taking lethal damage from being outside it. Players must scavenge for weapons and armor to gain the upper hand on their opponents. The game adds the construction element from Fortnite; players can break down most objects in the game world to gain resources they can use to build fortifications as part of their strategy. The game features limited cross-platform play between the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, personal computer, and mobile versions.
The idea for Fortnite Battle Royale came near the release of Fortnite in mid-2017. Following the early access release of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds in March 2017 and its rapid growth, Epic Games saw the opportunity to create a battle royale mode out of Fortnite. Originally released as part of the paid Fortnite game, Epic spun out a dedicated version of the game offered as free-to-play funded by microtransactions, sharing in-game currency with the main Fortnite game.Contents
The main gameplay for Fortnite Battle Royale follows the battle royale genre's standard format: up to 100 players skydive then deploy a glider from floating buses ("Battle Bus") onto a consistent map, which includes random distribution of weapons, shield, and other combat support features. The goal is to be the last player (or team, if playing in small squads) alive by killing or avoiding other players. Over time, the game's safe zone (representing the eye of a storm that is ravaging the world), decreases in size, and players caught outside the zone will take damage, potentially dying. This directs the surviving players into tighter spaces, forcing player encounters. Players can loot defeated enemies for equipment. Random supply drops will occur during a match, providing random weapons and items. Like in the original Fortnite game, Fortnite Battle Royale plays in a third-person perspective.
Fortnite Battle Royale's primary distinction from other battle royale games is the building system, which originated from the original Fortnite survival game. Nearly all objects in the environment can be broken down into materials (wood, stone, and metal), which can then be used to build fortifications of limited durability, such as walls, ramps, floors, and roofs. These objects may be used to help traverse the map, protect the player from gunfire, or slow down progression of other players.
The game is free-to-play, supported by microtransactions that allow players to buy "V-Bucks", the game's internal currency. V-Bucks are also shared with the main Fortnite "Save the World" game, which offers players the opportunity to earn V-Bucks by completing missions or daily quests. V-Bucks can then be used to buy cosmetic improvements to the player (heroes, character and weapon skins, and emotes). V-Bucks can also be used to buy Battle Passes which accelerate the rate that a player increases their Tier within the game's "seasons" (each season lasting a few months). By raising their tier, they gain automatic rewards of cosmetic items typically around a theme. Players can still increase tiers without a Battle Pass, albeit at a slower rate.Development See also: Fortnite § Development
Fortnite had first been revealed by Epic Games in 2011, considered to be a combination of Minecraft and Left 4 Dead as four players would work together to scavenge resources to built fortifications, traps, weapons, and other objects to survive monster attacks. The game ended up with a protracted development period, in part due to both external pressures, with the industry transitioning to a games as a service model, and internal shifts of focus within Epic (including focusing attention on their first free-to-play title Paragon) to meet the external challenges. During this period, Epic made a deal with Tencent, giving them about 40% of the company in exchange for their support for the games as a service approach as well as ready access to the Chinese video game market. Fortnite was confirmed to have a planned 2018 release in June 2017, with a paid early access period starting a month later; the game is planned otherwise as a free-to-play title supported by microtransactions. With release in early access, the game featured its primary gameplay mode, "Save the World", where players in teams up to four would work cooperatively to survive and complete objectives on randomly generated maps.
During the latter part of Fortnite's development, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds was released in March 2017 on personal computers in early access, and quickly became a popular and successful game, becoming the defining example of the battle royale genre. According to Mustard, the Epic team "loved Battle Royale games like ", and explored how they could make a similar mode within Fortnite's engine. They kept this mode in a separate development team from the main player versus environment modes for experimentation and as to not throw off the balance in the main game. The Battle Royale mode development was led by Eric Williamson with Zack Estep as production lead. Their goal was to develop the Battle Royale mode quickly from the core "Save the World" mode, putting off any complex features that weren't already in place as to launch the new mode as soon as possible; while they explored such potential ideas, they held off inclusion until after the main mode was launched. The development of the Battle Royale mode took about two months starting in July 2017 after the "Save the World" mode had shipped, and was aided by the Unreal Tournament team. Key differences for Battle Royale that differed from "Save the World" included a more limited progression for weapons, a small subset of traps, and a smoother, more natural terrain for the maps. They also wanted to aim for games not taking longer than 25 minutes, which led to some decisions of which elements from "Save the World" would not carry over. They had including Fortnite's building mechanic for fortifications, not sure how players would use that since the safe zone would continue shrinking, but found quickly that the mechanic helped to distinguish the game from Battlegrounds and was used by expert players frequently to win matches, and had since implemented more features to help players with rapidly constructing temporary bases.Fortnite Battle Royale at the 2018 Game Developers Conference
In those two months of development, Epic's plan was to include Battle Royale within the paid Fortnite game, and originally announced this approach publicly in early September 2017. Only two weeks before it was released did Epic decide to make it a separate free-to-play title, fearing that having it as part of the paid package would slow down the growth of the title. Epic announced this change formally about a week after first announcing Battle Royale, allowing those that had purchased early access to Fortnite in anticipation of this mode to request refunds. This release, which beat out Battlegrounds to consoles, caused some concern with Battlegrounds developer Bluehole, as they had been working closely with Epic for Unreal engine support in Battlegrounds, and were worried that Fortnite might be able to include planned features to their Battle Royale mode before they could release those in Battlegrounds. Since then, PUBG has filed a lawsuit in South Korea against Epic Games, claiming Battle Royale is a copyright infringement of Battlegrounds.
With the popularity of Fortnite Battle Royale by the start of 2018, Epic split off a separate development team to focus on improvements for this mode. Epic said that their attention to Fortnite was causing some of their other games to see lower player populations, leading them to reduce development efforts on these games, particularly Paragon. By the end of January 2018, Epic announced it was shutting down Paragon by April of that year, providing refunds to all players. Players on a Fortnite-dedicated Reddit forum had expressed concerns that a similar fate could befall the Save the World mode of Fortnite, as externally, the Save the World mode has not received the same attention in providing updates and improvements compared to the Battle Royale mode since that mode's release.
Since release, Epic has added more features, such as new weapons and vending machines. It has experimented with alternative modes available for a limited amount of time, such as having 50-vs-50 matches and 5 teams of 20 players each; this was done to help explore what other gameplay features as well as to keep the game fresh for players. Epic does plan to add in ranked competitive play to be run in seasons, which is expected to start mid-2018. A preliminary competitive mode, Solo Showdown, was ran for a limited time starting in May 2018, ranking players by their final placement in matches and rewarding the top-placing competitors with V-Bucks. Epic is also able to deploy hot-fixes to the game to adjust aspects like weapon attributes and distribution, pushing these out in minutes if necessary should they or players discover critical issues.
Tencent, who is a partial owner of Epic Games, will bring Fortnite Battle Royale to China; the company is already involved in bringing and supporting Battlegrounds in China as well. Tencent plans to spend up to US$15 million to help promote the game in China, set up eSports tournaments, and fight against copyright infringement and clones of Fortnite that have appeared in the country. Epic is also working with Neowiz Games to bring a version of Fortnite to Korean PC bangs by the second quarter of 2018.
A release of Fortnite for the Nintendo Switch video game console had been rumored in the week prior to the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018 in June 2018. During the Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo and Epic Games announced the release of Fortnite Battle Royale for the Nintendo Switch, supporting cross-platform play with computer, Xbox One, and mobile users; such users are able to carry over their inventory, Battle Pass status, and in-game currency between these platforms through their Epic user account. The game was released the same day as it was announced, on June 12, 2018. It is the first game to support direct voice chat through the Switch console. The Nintendo Switch version cannot be linked to Epic Games accounts that were used at any point with the PlayStation 4 version, or vice versa; this is due to Sony's reluctance to support cross-platform play, and not a choice Epic had made.Mobile
In March 2018, Epic announced it was making Fortnite Battle Royale for Android and iOS mobile devices. These versions are expected to have cross-platform play between the Windows, macOS, and Xbox One versions, which was enabled on March 15, 2018. While Epic Games has expressed interest in having full cross-platform play with computer, mobile, and both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, cross-play between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is an issue related to Sony's policies, according to Microsoft. The iOS version was released first, and is expected to be followed by the Android version by mid-2018. The beta version for iOS devices launched on March 15, 2018, and opened to all players on April 2, 2018.
The mobile release of Fortnite Battle Royale brought in an estimated US$1 million in microtransaction revenue within the first three days of in-app purchases being available, according to analysis firm Sensor Tower. Glixel considered these numbers impressive, compared to the early success rate of other popular mobile games, such as Pokémon Go and Clash Royale which earned US$4.9 million and US$4.6 million in their first four days, respectively. Sensor Tower further estimated that after one month, the mobile title had earned more than US$25 million in revenue, surpassing revenues from any other mobile games and other several top-grossing apps during the same period.
With the release of the mobile version and the interest from younger audiences, teachers, parents, and students have found that the game had become popular in schools, and was a disruption within classrooms. Epic has since added warnings on the game's loading screens to discourage students from playing it during classes. The UK's Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, expressed concern at how much time children were playing Fortnite Battle Royale and similar video games without a balance of physical exercise and social interactions.Professional competition The Fortnite Pro-Am event at E3 2018
One of the first professional eSports competitions using Fortnite was the Fortnite Pro-Am event, held on June 12, 2018 during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018. This tourney was announced after the success of the March 2018 stream by Tyler "Ninja" Blevins where he played alongside celebrities like Drake. The event featuring 50 celebrities paired with 50 top streaming players competing for prize pool of US$3 million to be given to winning teams' charities. Ninja and his celebrity teammate Marshmello were the winners of this event.
During the Fortnite Pro-Am at E3 2018, Epic announced it was setting up a 2019 Fortnite World Cup event, featuring separate series for solo players and two-player teams. All players, regardless of skill, would have an opportunity to try to gain placement in the World Cup event.Reception See also: Reception and accolades for Fortnite
Fortnite Battle Royale has become its own phenomenon, compared by analysts to the success in drawing in players that are not average video game players as both World of Warcraft and Minecraft had done previously. Fortnite Battle Royale obtained over 10 million players two weeks after its release. By March 2018, it was estimated to have more than 45 million players. Three months later, in June 2018, Epic announced they had achieved over 125 million players in less than a year, with at least 40 million players playing the game once per month. Within a day of becoming available, the Nintendo Switch version had been downloaded over 2 million times, according to Nintendo.The Fortnite exhibition booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018
Journalists attributed Fortnite Battle Royale's success over PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds as a combination of several factors: besides being free-to-play and available on consoles, the game was released at a time when Battlegrounds was struggling with game cheaters and a toxic community, and that it features a less violent, cartoonish quality to it that, like Minecraft, was able to draw in a younger and mixed-gendered audiences to play. Further, Epic has maintained frequent updates for the game, adding new weapons and in-game tools alongside limited-time events and longer-term narrative elements that help to further draw in players. The high interest in the game within March 2018, which has been able to draw larger audiences compared to existing multiplayer games like Grand Theft Auto Online and Destiny 2, has had a financial impact on competing publishers Take-Two Interactive and Activision Blizzard, their stocks having fallen during this period, according to analysts from Morgan Stanley and KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. Activision's CEO Bobby Kotick, on their quarterly results released May 2018, stated that "Fortnite is definitely a lot of competition right now...it’s been a really important catalyst in attracting new gamers to gaming", and the company is looking to develop its own battle royale title. Electronic Arts CEO Blake Jorgensen also considered both Fortnite Battle Royale and Battlegrounds as having a significant market impact. Jorgensen said " bringing younger people into the marketplace and younger people into first-person shooters, and I think that's good for the long run health of that category for all of us in the industry".
Analysis firm SuperData estimated that Fortnite Battle Royale made over US$126 million in February 2018, surpassing Battlegrounds's revenues for the same period of US$103 million. SuperData estimated Fortnite's revenues over all platforms to exceed US$223 million for the month of March. By April 2018, SuperData estimated that Fortnite Battle Royale had surpassed both sales and player count on all platforms over Battlegrounds. Because of Fortnite Battle Royale, Epic Games had an estimated net worth of US$4.5 billion in May 2018. For April 2018, the game generated US$296 million in revenue, according to SuperData.
Part of the game's success is also considered to be related to its impact on social media. By March 2018, Fortnite: Battle Royale became the most-viewed game on Twitch, exceeding the average-concurrent viewership numbers of League of Legends and Battlegrounds. One notable streamer was Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, who gained a large number of subscribers by March 2018, in part due to his skill and through promotions on Twitch that offered free Fortnite Battle Royale cosmetic items; by March 2018, he was estimated to be making US$500,000 a month from his streaming revenue. YouTube streamer Rubén Doblas Gundersen held a Fortnite Battle Royale match with 99 other well-known YouTube streamers in late March, which drew over 1.1 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched gaming YouTube streams. The Fortnite Pro-Am event held at E3 2018 was estimated to have drawn over 1.3 million views across Twitch and other streaming services, making it one of the highest-viewed live-streamed event to date.
A number of celebrities and athletes have said they play Fortnite: Battle Royale, such as Chance the Rapper, Joe Jonas, Finn Wolfhard, Roseanne Barr, and Norm Macdonald. In March 2018, Tyler Blevins hosted a stream that included Drake, Travis Scott, Kim DotCom, and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster all playing the game. The stream broke over 635,000 concurrent viewers, making it the highest-watched stream on Twitch outside of eSports tournaments. Other notable people have expressed their fondness for the game; the Russo brothers, directors of Avengers: Infinity War, stated that they often played Fortnite Battle Royale during breaks on the film's development, leading them to propose the idea of a limited time event for the game. This official Marvel-sponsored event, which ran a few weeks after the film, features the Infinity Gauntlet that randomly spawned on the map; any player that equips it became Thanos with added abilities. The awareness of the game from well-known celebrities has been considered a reason for further popularity and player growth of the game.References