One year on - 10 ways Fortnite has impacted the games market

One year on - 10 ways Fortnite has impacted the games market

It's fair to say that no-one really could have anticipated how big Fortnite would become.

When the game launched a year ago, it was a survival and crafting title. Despite its early success - which saw 500,000 people paying for the Founders Pack for the free-to-play game - no-one could have predicted that this would become one of the most talked-about games in the world.

That's in large part to the portion of Fortnite that took it to the stratosphere - Battle Royale - not being part of the game at launch. That came later, in September, and the title hasn't stepped off the accelerator since.

To commemorate Fortnite's first year in the wild, we're going to look at the ten ways the title has impacted the video games market.

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Took battle royale to the mainstream

    Fortnite didn't invent the battle royale genre but it has certainly been the most successful entry in the sector to date.

    This type of game started out on PC with mods, fan creations and Early Access games that aren't exactly the most accessible to the mainstream audience. Playerunknown's Battlegrounds is arguably the title that put the genre on the map, wracking up an impressive 30m sales in 2017 alone but this title was a PC exclusive for pretty much the entire time it was out last year. An Xbox One edition followed in December, but for most of its first year on shelves, consumers needed to have a decent PC to try battle royale.

    That all changed with Fortnite, which beat PUBG Corp's title to console by launching on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in September. Not only that - the title was entirely free of charge and had prominent placement on the digital storefronts on both consoles. To date, the game has more than 125m players

    Not only was the game super accessible, it also streamlined much of the complexity found in other battle royale games. Where something like PUBG has players messing around in the menus and changing attachments on their weaponry, Fortnite is much simpler with users just running over guns and items to pick them up.

    Additionally, gunplay is far easier to grasp. With the exception of the sniper rifles, all weapons in Fortnite are hit-scan, meaning that users don't need to worry about realistic considerations like bullet drop when trying to take down a foe.

    And finally, Fortnite boasts a beautifully colourful art style which makes the game appealing to a mass market.

    With Fortnite, Epic did what Blizzard is historically very good at - taking niche, complex genres and bringing them to a mainstream audience.

  • 2 Even Epic didn't know how big battle royal was going to be

    Were we to go back in time to the initial design meeting Epic had at the start of Fortnite's development and told them that the survival and crafting game they were making would do okay, but a last-man-standing battle royale mode would take it to the moon, we'd have been laughed out of the room.

    Fortnite, much like H1Z1, had battle royale as an extra mode in an existing survival game. No-one knew how big the battle royale genre was going to be - not even the company that is profiting the most from it today.

    But, fair play to Epic, the North Carolina tech and games company turned this mode around pretty fast. Reports from GDC indicated that the studio made Battle Royale for Fortnite in just two months, only starting once the game had launched in July.

    All of which is to say, half of everything is luck, and the other half is making a damn good game.

  • 3 It's started a conversation about age ratings

    Fortnite has been played by more than a whopping 125m people since its launch and a portion of that figure are almost certainly below the age of 12, the rating given to the battle royale game around the world.

    Many parents have complained that their kids are spending a lot of time with Fortnite - more on that shortly - but the most shocking revelation to come out of the entire affair was just how many parents were letting their children play Fortnite who were under 12.

    In the UK, we've heard anecdotal evidence that schools have even told parents to disregard the age rating guidance altogether, saying that because it involves cartoon violence it's all okay.

    Research on the matter is absolutely shocking, and we're glad that Fortnite - if nothing else - has helped emphasise the importance of age ratings to a generation of parents who honestly don't seem to care.

  • 4 ...and been caught up in the conversation about video game addiction

    And then there's the small matter of Fortnite finding itself at the centre of a conversation about video game addiction. Before Fortnite reached the massive success it has today, the World Health Organisation proposed that video game addiction definitions make it into the 11th edition of the International Compendium of Diseases. This is the tome by which medical professionals around the world help diagnose those who need treatment.

    It just so happened that around the time Fornite became big, video game addiction was a shadow looming over the industry. Morning TV shows hosted discussions on the subject and all was not well.

    Epic's chief Tim Sweeney says that Fortnite is a healthy and social pursuit, but video game addiction is a real issue and one that people need help with. While Epic could have done without the negative PR, it comes with the territory with a game of this size.

    And honestly, it's good that a game as popular as Fortnite has helped - through negative PR - address an actual problem in society. 

  • 5 Showed us free-to-play can work in a mainstream PC/console game

    Don't get us wrong, we know that there have been free-to-play success stories before. But Fortnite is arguable the highest profile use case we've had so far for the model in the mainstream.

    Free games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 have raked in cash in the past, but those aren't exactly mainstream hits. They might boast sizeable user bases, but ultimately they are pretty niche in the grand scheme of things.

    Fortnite, however, shows that a mainstream audience is more than willing to pay out massive amounts of money for a free game. The closest example we have before this - in the PC and console space - is arguably Grand Theft Auto Online, though that game comes with a premium price tag. Epic's battle royale game had people splashing out a massive $300m in the month of May alone which is ridiculous. Additionally. 69 per cent of the player base are more than willing to put their hand in their pocket.

    As anyone in the mobile free-to-play space and they'll tell you that the average is between five and 15 per cent of users being willing to spend on those titles.

    So, not only has Fortnite proved that free-to-play can work on the mainstream in the PC/console space - it's shown just how much that audience is willing to pay.

  • 6 It now dominates YouTube and Twitch

    Since YouTube and Twitch became the defacto places to go watch games, Minecraft has dominated the scene.

    Mojang's blocky blockbuster has been insanely popular, creating careers for a wave of influencers and content creators.

    But that time is now over.

    In May alone, 700m hours of battle royale content was watched across all platforms - 83 per cent of which was Fortnite.

    YouTube's fastest growing channels are Fortnite focused and the title is now the most popular on that platform. Twitch's Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins has risen to be one of the world's biggest streamers after he collaborated with musician Drake for a broadcast.

    Not bad, especially when you consider the game has been out for just one year.

  • 7 It's forced the competition to be better

    Playerunknown's Battlegrounds utterly dominated last year's PC games conversation. The title shifted a massive 30m copies on PC and Xbox One - 26m of which were when the title was in Early Access - and boasted ridiculous concurrent player counts.

    2018, however, has been a somewhat different story. When the company wasn't trying to sue Epic over what it considered copyright infringement, the firm was still fighting cheaters. The Miramar map it launched at the end of 2017 didn't massively enthuse the player base, as well.

    But it would seem that developer and publisher PUBG Corp has taken a step back and rather than trying to sue the opposition into submission, has actually taken some notes out of Fortnite's book. It has introduced the faster matches and smaller map of Sanhok. It's rolled out an Event Pass to reward players and get some extra cash, and it's also focusing more on silly costumes and collaborations.

    It's my humble opinion that games companies are generally at their best when their backs are against the wall, and PUBG vs Fortnite has been no different. This is a tide that raises all boats.

  • 8 It's been the first massive demonstration of cross-platform play

    There hasn't been a game before the allowed for cross-platform play between console, PC and mobile. The concept has been rearing its head for a while - and titles such as Psyonix's Rocket League have made the tech work between PC and Xbox.… and PS4 and PC.

    Fortnite is the first mainstream title to be playable on pretty much any platform that also lets gamers team up with friends from other platforms.

    This has come with some challenges - the controls on the mobile version needed to be massively tweaked to get them to be comparable with the gamepad-centric platforms.

    Additionally, Fortnite's success and cross-platform nature has lit a fire under the ass of Sony, who is currently restricting cross-platform play with PlayStation 4. Given that the console giant is currently in the lead of this generation - by quite a margin it would seem - it doesn't really have to offer such functionality to still be in the lead. But it's certainly made for a negative PR story and one that Microsoft will remind the games audience about at every turn.

  • 9 You don't need Steam to make a mainstream PC hit anymore

    So not every game on PC requires Steam to be a hit. League of Legends has its own client, as do Blizzard games via the app.

    But it's rare to see a game reach such mainstream success without Valve's platform.

    It speaks to the popularity and word of mouth marketing around Fortnite that a number of people - myself included - will have made an Epic account, downloaded the client purely to play the game. And like most PC folks, too much of my life is spent on Steam.

    Many developers cling to this platform in the hope it will bring them success. Epic is definitely an exception to the rule given the sheer size of the company, but success is hard to come by in the PC games space, even if you are a company that boasts massive amounts of talent.

  • 10 Oh, and it's made Epic an actual metric shit tonne of money

    Bloomberg reckons that Epic's valuation has risen from £5bn in 2017 to a massive $8bn this year.

    This is clearly off the back of Fortnite, and will no doubt be good news for both Chinese tech and entertainment Tencent - who owns a 48.4 per cent stake in the firm - and CEO Tim Sweeney, who is now a billionaire.

    Ultimately this is good news for the industry as the rewards that Epic is reaping trickle down. The firm has already given developers on its platform a larger share of revenue - rising from 70/30 to 88/12. This isn't something that applies to developers moving forwards - this is being applied retroactively for revenue generated since 2014.

    Just think of the payday some developers just received!

    Epic giving back to the community would seem like a good PR story, but the sheer amount of money said community is receiving means this feels like a legitimate move from the heart.

    And as Epic continues to work on Unreal Engine 5 - which surely has to be announced around the start of the next console generation - the middleware giant having a massive amount of extra cash can only help it make something that's truly useful to developers.

    Which is a good thing for the industry.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.