The Rise of the Battle Bus

Celebrating three years of Fortnite! By Max Kleeman.

So I hear you haven’t taken a trip on the battle bus? You haven’t thanked the bus driver? Or flossed over your enemy’s body? Well, I think we need to have a chat. A chat about what? Well, Fortnite of course!

Created by Epic Games on 25 July 2017 (oh wait, that’s three years ago today!), Fortnite has grown to become one of the titans of the esports world, revolutionizing the esports industry as we know it. For those of you who haven’t brushed up on your Fortnite history, the game didn’t just appear overnight. Initially unveiled at the 2011 Video Game Awards, nobody thought that it would take six years for the game to take shape, but Fortnite fans are glad it did — so glad they’re dancing! Upon release, the game only included the Save the World mode, a player vs CPU third-person shooter tower defense game. Two months after this release, with the immediate success of Players Unknown Battleground, Fortnite created the most popular version of the game, the famous Battle Royale.

So, let’s talk about Fortnite’s growth over the past three years. To date, Fortnite has over 350 million active players, hot on the heels of Mojang’s Minecraft and Microsoft’s Solitaire. To put this into perspective, Mojang’s Minecraft came out in 2009 and Microsoft’s Solitaire in 1990. Imagine the number of active players Fortnite could potentially have in not only ten years, but thirty!

However, Fortnite has not only seen success in its number of active players. In 2019, Fortnite brought in revenues of $1.8 billion, according to SuperData Research. In comparison, the Call of Duty titles collectively generated $1.1 billion in revenue in 2019. Fortnite viewership is nothing to smirk at either, totaling an average viewership of 165,000 for the month of May, 2020.

So, why is Fortnite so popular? A major factor is that the game is easily accessible. It can be played on mobile, console, and PC across almost all regions — including North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania. Additionally, the game is free to play, which is great because players do not need to drop a ton of cash in order to get started. The game is cross platform as well, which means friends who have either an Xbox or PlayStation gaming console can battle it out alongside each other.

Another major influence on Fortnite’s success are the seasons. Throughout the history of the game, there have been two chapters and thirteen different seasons. Every three to four months, Epic Games launches a new season of the game, with new parts of the map, guns, items, and upgradeable battle passes. The game continuously changes throughout the season as well, making it feel like there is something new every time you play. It means that Fortnite doesn’t get boring, because after all who would want to play a boring video game?

Not only is the game’s content ever changing, Fortnite is shaking up the way in which we understand online gaming. Fortnite has done crossovers with Marvel, Stranger Things, John Wick, Borderlands, and Batman just to name a few. These crossovers have given us new skins, new parts of the map, and even new game modes.

Virtual live events are have also become a major attraction in Fortnite. On 25 April 2020, Fortnite had a live in-game concert featuring Travis Scott. Over 12.3 million concurrent Fortnite players viewed and participated in Travis Scott’s “Astronomical” virtual performance, an all-time record, according to Epic Games.

But Fortnite is the gift that keeps on giving! On 29 April 2020, Epic Games released Party Royale. In this mode, you can essentially create your own party with your friends. You can chill, play around the map, try out new items, emote with other players, and even experience live shows. These live shows have so far consisted of concerts featuring Diplo, Major Lazer, Young Thug, Noah Cyrus, and more. The Party Royale mode has also featured its own movie night, bringing the Fortnite community together to watch three of Christopher Nolan’s most popular movies: Inception, The Prestige, and Batman Begins. Party Royale is changing popular culture as we know it, allowing us to be entertained and consume media in ways we have never been able to before. Fortnite is changing the esports ecosystem as we know it.

Clearly Fortnite is dancing its way to victory in the esports world, but not only that, it’s changing the way that we understand virtual consumption. Offering unique in-game experiences, coupled with a host of colorful skins and characters, playing Fortnite is like opening a treasure chest filled to the brim with loot or, in Fortnite’s case, guns. I hope that you feel inspired to try it out and become a part of this vibrant, organic community. So get ready to thank the bus driver folks, it’s Victory Royale time!

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