Creating a battle royal: how Fortnight gained popularity?

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battle royal

Why is creating a battle royal so popular? Let’s figure it out. In the year 2019, popularity Fortnight’s slightly fell, but it did not stop her from earning $ 1.8 billion. How did Epic Games develop a game that made it to the top?

It seemed that the answer is simple, and only children play this game, but this is not entirely true.

There was a study in 2019, and it found out that 47% of Fortnight’s audience were people over 25. Besides, 53% demonstrate incredible devotion and loyalty, ignoring other royal battles.

For comparison:

  • number of loyal players for Apix 24%
  • for PUBG it’s even less – 18%.

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Epic Games: From Origins to Fortnight

Epic Games: From Origins to Fortnight

Epic Games was founded in 1991 by Tim Sweeney, who had no plans to develop games. Epic’s first name is Potomac Computer Systems.

When Sweeney opened the company, he was still studying and mastering Pascal. He wrote a game – ZZT to practice his programming skill, and it suddenly became popular. He sold 3-4 copies a day. Without thinking about how to create his own game, Tim earned $ 100 each day.

Sweeney launched the Shareware project: at the request of customers, he recorded games on a floppy disk and sent them by mail. Tim realized that he could make money on games.

Renaming the company on Epic MegaGames, Sweeney begins developing games. Without asking how to create a game, he acted. By the way, ZZT remains popular until 2013.

In the 90s, Epic had not yet found their authenticity and did not think about which game to create. So the company works with anything. Among the company’s projects were:

  • platformers;
  • fighting games;
  • pinball and baseball simulators.

The search for their “place” in the market continued until Epic launched Unreal. The game has an interesting engine – the first iteration of the Unreal Engine. In an interview, Sween said that he wrote 90% of the engine code himself. And this technology was a breakthrough.

For the first time, there was a fog and 16-bit colors in the engine. John Carmack himself said that Unreal divided the games into “before” and “after”.

But the cherry on the cake in Unreal Engine is a distribution model. Even before the release of the game, which took place in 1998, Epic began the engine licensing process (1996). By the end of 1999, at least 16 games of other companies (Deus Ex, Duke Nukem Forever, and others) were using Epic technology.

As stated above, Sweeney did not seek to develop games. He wanted to build a business. Therefore, he directed his forces into the development of the company. By the fourth iteration, the Unreal Engine became a successful commercial engine.

Today, Epic cost $ 15 billion. The Epic engine is used not only in games but also in films, which makes the company profit.

After the release of Unreal, the company retained for many years the role of gloomy games for a male audience. 

Epic: the rebirth

Gamers changed their hearts in 2011 when Epic presented Fortnight a survival game similar to Disney and Pixar cartoons.

According to Tim, the base of the product are two popular genres – the angular universe as in Minecraft and the horror as in Left 4 Dead.

Sweeney did not plan to release only gloomy games, and each project was perceived as a new business opportunity. But there was another reason for the Fortnight release – the update. 

After the scandal with Microsoft, Epic decided to reconsider its positioning, expand its target audience, and look for direct communication with it. Now the company not only creates games but also releases them on all possible platforms. Sweeney’s new focus was service games.

And at that moment in the world, a new, attractive multi-user format was fired – battle royal, which fit perfectly into the concept of Fortnight.

The mechanics of  creating a battle royal

The mechanics of battle royal

The mechanics of battle royal – an enclosed space on which there are several dozen players. The challenge is to survive at all costs through affordable survival strategies.

The first top game that mastered battle royal was Minecraft, where several scenarios with “battles” are still available. 

Brendan Green, a game designer from the South Korean company Bluehole, invent battle royal. He also provided capital and resources for the development and release of the game PUBG, the hit of 2017, downloaded 30 million times. The game was released on the Epic engine – UE 4.

Until that moment, the key concept of Fortnight was Save The World mode – collecting resources and repelling monster attacks. The success of the battle royal format in the PUBG game made Epic change the concept of the Fortnite universe to free-to-play monetization, and the company only benefited from this.

To develop the game, in the first, Epic attracted a third-party investor, the Chinese corporation Tencent, which bought in 2012 a 40% stake in the company for $ 330 million.  

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Shakes everyone: the reasons for the mega popularity of Fortnite

the reasons for the mega popularity of Fortnite

  1. Speed. The main reason for the popularity of Fortnight – Timing. Game occupied the niche of “royal battles” in 2017. While others looked closely, Epic acted, and in just 3 months created a game that, in a few days after the release, gathered a multi-million audience of users.
  2. New content. The refresh rate is Fortnight’s incredible. Most companies cannot keep up with Epic, which adds global changes to the game every few months: new mechanics, map updates, and more. In one of the latest versions, they used a PVE element – a map that displays enemy objects where you can steal powerful weapons. Also, small but noticeable content changes occur every few days, which does not allow the audience to cool down and switch their attention to other games. For example, elements of fishing and boats.
  3. Technical capabilities. Fortnight is less demanding on the technical characteristics of devices; it launches from all gadgets and works an order of magnitude better than most premium games.
  4. Free-to-play format. Users can try the game for free, evaluate its advantages and, if desired, upgrade the characters with paid “goodies.”

Disadvantages – how to creating a battle royal correctly

Disadvantages of battle royal

  1. Lack of User Generated Content (content created by players). Some game designers have criticized the “battle royale” genre for its lack of content created by players. And it’s not about cards and mods but in a meta-game. Like, for example, in Hearthstone. When the game came out, the players did not know how to play, and developed strategies themselves studied the specifics of the heroes, strength, and so on. Meta is an opportunity for individuality. Like in Dota, Counter-Strike and other games.
  2. Surface mechanics. The genre of “royal battles” means a stream of quickly assimilated information, the processing of which requires a minimum of effort. This affects the mechanics of the games, which cannot be done deeper. Because of this, players in less than a day figure out which weapon is more powerful and more useful, how to kill an enemy with minimal losses.
  3. The player relies on luck. The primary skill of “royal battles” is the ability to shoot quickly and accurately, while in games such as Counter-Strike, the ability to shoot is one of a thousand things players needed to win.
  4. The crisis of the genre. Battle Royale requires constant updates to keep your audience on track. And changing content requires too many resources, which, apart from Epic, are available to units. And even putting the production of content on the conveyor, sooner or later, you may encounter a lack of ideas, which can cause the loss of part of the audience.

Despite the nuances, the game industry is a tidbit that attracts prospects. 

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