Fortnite at head of rapidly growing genre

Courtesy of Epic Games
Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale has proven the most popular effort in the battle royale genre since its release as an early-access game in September 2017.

Griffin Sendek | Staff Writer

04/26/2018

Since its release, Fortnite Battle Royale has captured the hearts of over 45 million players, claiming the title of most popular video game in the world. Epic Games’ smash hit is not alone though. It is just one in an ever-growing sea of recently released battle royale games, all fighting to be number one.

The battle royale genre, at its most basic, consists of a large number of players fighting it out until only one is left standing; the last one alive is the victor. The genre’s simplicity has proven successful among a wide variety of gamers. Developers can relatively quickly and easily adapt their already existing game or build one to follow the battle royale formula.

In fact, Fortnite’s battle royale mode was something of an afterthought, an addition to the survival game Epic had been developing since 2011. The game that has accrued so much fame, popularity and money was put together in only two months. Epic Games simply took the gameplay and mechanics of their survival title, then called Fortnite: Save the World, adapted it to the game mode and released for free.

The chance of ending a match in the number one position and the thrill and achievement of being the best among a horde of other players are what make battle royale games so compelling. The gameplay loop of these games creates this addicting rush, as the number of players alive slowly diminishes and the playing field gets smaller and smaller. The mode creates a stressful atmosphere where an enemy player can pop out of nowhere and one lost gunfight puts an end to all progress made. These games keep people playing, too; as soon as someone dies, the player can be in a new match within seconds, completely eliminating all downtime between games. Participants will play matches over and over again, striving to be better, to fix their mistakes and make it closer to the elusive number one spot.

Not only have the games exploded in terms of the amount of people playing them, but the viewership on sites such as YouTube and Twitch for battle royale-related content have skyrocketed as well. Fortnite has been the most viewed game on Twitch for months and consistently has more than 200,000 viewers (269,953 at the time of writing). Almost half of those views go to a man named Tyler Blevins, better known as Ninja, who achieved his fame from skill alone. Ninja currently has over 9 million YouTube subscribers and over 250,000 on Twitch and is making $875,000 a month. Fortnite is all over YouTube, and it is getting thousands of views. There are even multiple channels dedicated solely to “best plays and funny clips.” Commonly, clips from streams are recorded and edited together to make one of many “best moments” videos.  People are eating up Fortnite content faster than it can be created.

A battle royale mode is easy to make and is extremely popular, so it is no surprise many developers are hopping on the trend. Fortnite Battle Royale and PUBG Corp’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds currently hold the number one and number two spot for best selling battle royale-style games.

It may seem foolish to attempt to dethrone the big two, but more games keep getting announced, and the moment a game comes along that does something better than Fortnite or PUBG, gamers will flock to the new title. Even if one of the 17 new battle royale titles slated for release in 2018 manages to siphon even 0.1 percent of Fortnite’s 45 million+ player base, that is 45,000 new players populating the new game. That is more players than some games reach in their lifetime.

The video game industry has always followed trends and this time it is no different. Right now, creating a battle royale game or adding the mode is a safe bet and a surefire way to make a lot of money. As long as the genre’s making money, more and more games like this will continue to be released. Time will tell if the market will become oversaturated with battle royale games and people will be completely burned out on the genre. Fortnite won’t be the most popular game in the world forever, as is the way with gaming: some new craze will come along knock it off its mighty throne, but for now, Fortnite and battle royale are here to stay.

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