The word “fortnight” is not used in America, so some social media users actually posted about a new game they referred to as “fork knife”. The game soon spread virally in playgrounds, partly through recaps of matches from the night before and partly via a dance move called the Floss, which became popular in Fortnite. The game enables players the chance to perform a number of dance moves to one another, which can take on an either antagonistic or bonding approach.
The game has an innovative business model. It’s a free download so rather than profiting from point-of-sale, it sells digital costumes, also called skins, to its players. A brand-new wardrobe is made available each day for just a few points each. Players can give their avatar a new skin, such as a skeleton, an Olympic skier, a medieval knight, or a ninja. which helps them to stand out. Those responsible for designing these skins are among the development team’s more significant members, seeing as their work is how Fortnite makes money.
A changing model
This virtual fashion is changing the business model of the medium. A Los Angeles developer, Rio, was among the earliest companies to adopt the model and has reportedly made close to $2 billion from selling digital skins for its League of Legends game. Other developers decided to do the same as they looked to develop a title that would become something that makes players want to play day after day, as opposed to a one-off experience such as a TV box set or a movie. By making the game free, studios attempted to build online communities, which they then monetised through digital costumes. Now it seems like Fortnite is ready to join the ranks of professional sport. While, in its early days, YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and professional players didn’t pay any attention to the game, believing it to be too immature for their respective audiences, things have changed.
Share and share alike
Another aspect of Fortnite that has contributed to its success is just how shareable it is, due to its general mayhem, wild clutch wins, and fast-paced action. Even when players are taking a break from joining in on the action, they enjoy watching others play. That was never more the case than in the example we gave in Part 1 when Tyler Blevins broke Twitch’s records for a non-sport esports event with more than 600,000 viewers tuning in. Blevins is reportedly making a cool $500,000 per month from streaming the game, with one of the more popular British YouTuber Ali-A posting videos daily, typically attracting a staggering two million views in just 24 hours.
Epic has been less than transparent about numbers but the huge scale of Fortnite’s success was hinted at when last year, the company announced a $100 million prize pool for upcoming tournaments. While other developers look to create the next Battle Royale, it seems more and more likely that Fortnite will remain the champion for some time yet.