With over 3.7 million players logged in over the weekend, it’s safe to say that Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode has been a success up to this point. Fortnite’s new mode has not only been raking in the numbers but also some controversy. This controversy is aimed at Epic Game’s development of a free-to-play Battle Royale mode that has followed the growing success of PUBG or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Whether or not Fortnite is a free-to-play clone of PUBG is up for debate but one thing remains certain— Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode is making a name for itself. Which leads to the question: Is the success of this mode foreshadowing the beginning of the end for Fortnite’s campaign mode?Fortnite launched as an Early Access program that features four different buy-in tiers ranging from $39.99 for the standard pack, all the way up to $149.99 for the Limited Edition pack. These packages offer access to the game’s campaign mode which was initially the only mode available at launch. Each tier comes with a variety of incentives such as Loot Pinatas (Fortnite’s version of loot boxes), Starter Weapon Packs, XP Bonuses, and more. It was also confirmed that the full game will be available as a free-to-play title when it officially launches sometime in 2018.
I was able to play through a few of the campaign missions and wrote a piece about my first impressions of the game. Keeping in mind that it’s is still in Early Access, I found some aspects of Fortnite weren’t as fun as I’d hoped although I found a saving grace with its shooting.
The third person view, critical hits, the oh-so-fulfilling headshot; it just felt damn good to shoot at enemies and luckily there are a lot of them. This should come as no surprise though. Epic Games has developed some legendary shooters that include the likes of Gears of War and Unreal Tournament, just to name a few.Still, Fortnite’s campaign found success with players and though modes like survival were added to the game, its quest-based campaign continued to be the shining star. That was until the Fortnite devs released their free-to-play Battle Royale mode.
The move to bring Battle Royale to Fortnite was obscure given the farming, building, and defend-your-base nature of the game. I for one questioned the addition of this mode, wondering if it would appeal to the base building fans of Fortnite’s core game.
I would go on to be wrong in this case, realizing that I failed to consider two factors: One, I underestimated the appeal of a free-to-play Battle Royale mode especially one based on Fortnite and secondly, I neglected to see that Fortnite had already perfected 2 main features of Battle Royale—shooting and large maps. This combination of features made a Battle Royale mode much easier for existing Fortnite players to get into.
Being a believer in the saying “Numbers don’t lie”, I had to test this mode out for myself. I ran a few runs in squads, getting about halfway through matches before dying. I attribute this mostly to playing with random players online and to lack of transportation which made surviving difficult as the storm condenses. Aside from the need for a vehicle, Fortnite’s battle royale gameplay felt solid. It’s a mode that I will absolutely go back to as it becomes a more complete experience.
After seeing all the praise and the number of players that are logging in, I started to ask myself what would happen to Fortnite’s base game? I began to wonder if the developers have unintentionally killed their campaign mode before its official release. Fortnite’s campaign and the battle royale mode are two completely different experiences.
Campaign mode encourages players to explore dedicated areas, build your own fort, and fight off waves of husks. Finding treasure boxes, building defense bases on the fly, killing enemy hordes, unlocking and leveling up characters are all mechanics to be found in Fortnite’s base campaign mode. There’s a lot of depth here—possibly too much depth—and players looking for that experience will find it.The battle royale mode is similar to other Battle Royale types, PUBG being the most notable. It offers you an adrenaline rush when you win and frustration when you lose but in all seriousness, Fortnite’s Battle Royale doesn’t break the mold here and it just so happens to work in their favor.
The aforementioned shooting and movement along with the building are not always convenient but still interesting to see in practice. This combination has made Fortnite’s Battle Royale most popular, seemingly attracting players to Fortnite strictly for this mode.
It’s tough to measure engagement, seeing that Battle Royale is currently free-to-play and the campaign mode is not. The sample size may not be there though I think it’s safe to say that the Battle Royale numbers are showing no signs of slowing down. So what happens in this case? Does Fortnite’s campaign just die? Or does it stick around and let Battle Royale mode do all the heavy lifting?
The hardest part is battling the numbers. This is the most people have talked about Fortnite and the most active players its had since launch. Closing down Battle Royale mode is not going to happen anytime soon but the longer it stays alive, the more chance it has at killing the campaign mode, in my opinion.
It would be tough for me to envision a space where adrenaline junkies would happen to fall in love with the base building features in the Battle Royale mode. That this feature alone would be enough to make this kind of player jump over to the base game, eventually falling in love with the campaign enough to spend actual money on it. I’m not saying it isn’t possible but I don’t see it happening all that often and honestly, I don’t know if that’s Epic’s real play here. Using Battle Royale to springboard players into the mainline game is no easy task, especially when the two are so vastly different.In the end, Fortnite needs to make money since it will be a free-to-play game. Currently, no microtransactions exist in Battle Royale mode. Like PUBG, this mode doesn’t allow for players to start the game with a weapon, so customizing your character seems like the only monetizable option here. There’s also the possibility of having a Loot Llamas system work within Battle Royale, offering an assortment of cosmetic items such as different shirts, glasses, bandanas etc. that can be purchased or earned in traditional free-to-play format.
Given the number of active players, its safe to say that with the right accessories, Battle Royale could give Epic the payout they were looking for through Fortnite’s base game. This is important to note in this case since when you are talking about maintaining a product, money absolutely talks and it would be interesting to see what the costs are for simultaneously keeping both modes up and running.
I’d like to run a survey and see how many of the Fortnite Battle Royale players actually care for or even know about the mainline game. How many of those millions of players are interested in base building and fighting off hordes of husks? How many of them would flock over to campaign mode once it goes free-to-play? Would any of them choose to stay if Epic shut down Battle Royale in favor of its mainline game? I don’t think we’ll get these answers anytime soon.It’s tough for me to believe that the devs would just let Fortnite fall out. Not saying that hard work isn’t being put into its Battle Royale mode but in comparison, the campaign has the most going on. Not to mention, it’s what Epic Games has been working on since 2013 when the game was initially announced. The dev team even went on to say that this a passion project on several occasions.
At this point, their passion has met success but let’s see what happens when Fortnite officially launches their campaign, and Battle Royale mode is complete. That will be the only way to truly tell if their ambitious Battle Royale mode killed off their mainline Fortnite campaign.
Do you feel that Battle Royale will get players over to Fortnite’s campaign mode? Or do you feel that this new mode will eventually kill off campaign mode? Let us know what you think.