More than 125 million players and earning more than $300m in a single month. I think it’s fair to say that Fortnite is a success. It might not have been the first or latest Battle Royale game to hit the market but it’s certainly the market leader for a number of different reasons (some of which you can read here and here). What is for certain though is that the epic Epic Games game has altered the face of popular culture. Footballers celebrating goals by “healing” themselves on the touchline. Rappers streaming the game to tens of thousands of viewers. An entirely new disease called “Fortitis” was discovered among teens and young adults bunking off school/work to watch Ninja do his thang. The game’s taking over the world and we thought we’d take a look at 10 things that Fortnite has changed irreparably.
1). Season Passes
Prior to the explosion of Fortnite, the term ‘Season Pass’ in relation to gaming was used as a catch-all which gamers could purchase to get instant access to a series of DLC packs from new playable characters, skins, levels, cars etc. Fortnite, however, ushered in the acceptance of a new type of Season Pass. Instead of granting you access to all of the DLC that you’ve just purchased, Fortnite opens up a new progression path for players which rewards them with new skins, emotes, gliders and now pets depending on how much and how well you play. Buying a Battle Pass in Fortnite gives you the opportunity to earn new cosmetic items, rather than exchanging your real world cash for all the in game objects meaning which, while not a new concept (having been used in F2P mobile gaming for a few years), has certainly become a widely accepted practice thanks to Fortnite which is now employed in other games like Rocket League.
2). The Popularity of Llamas
Llamas. Lama glama. The odd cousin in the Camel family. Before the explosion of Fortnite, Llama’s were simply ‘fine’. Sure, they were once the shape of a crunchy BBQ snack and they were the star of a really annoying YouTube sensation circa 2006 but it’s not as if they were ever really popular. Fast forward to 2018 and the Llama’s at safari parks and zoo’s around the world are more popular than ever. “That’s a llama! Like in Fortnite!” a group of kids excitedly pointed out during a recent Zoo trip (despite the fact that the animal they were excited about was actually an unenthused alpaca). While they’re still not exactly ‘Clownfish and Blue Tang in a tank together at the Aquarium, just like Finding Nemo’ famous, Llama’s have never before been so popular and it’s all down to Fortnite.
Plus they’re awesome.
2). Map Evolutions
Aside from maybe Call of Duty’s Nuketown, has there ever been a map that’s been through as many changes as the Fortnite’s Battle Royale Island? The comet changing Dusty Depot into Dusty Divot. The cubes. Entire new biomes just springing up, providing new places to explore and pogo around as you dodge shotgun blasts. While most other games in the Battle Royale genre have decided to release new maps for people to glide onto like a traditional game, Epic took the bold decision to keep with the same map but to regularly update it, building in a narrative about how and why it changes. It’s smart and something that Epic are really making their own with Fortnite, setting a new standard in storytelling in a usually plot void genre.
4). The Physical Fitness of 9-14 Year Olds
Walk into any classroom across the UK and say “TAKE THE L” and at least a few kids will jump right to it, replicating the Fortnite celebration. There’s now even fitness classes built around the ever popular emotes, giving kids the space to go wild with their Flossing while staying fit in the process. During my childhood, the only physical exertion that was encouraged by gaming was holding up a light-gun for long periods of time to play the Die Hard trilogy so to see the young gamers of today inadvertently getting a tonne of exercise by dancing along to Fortnite can only be a good thing.
5). The word “Fortnight”
Here’s a test for you. Go to Google and type in ‘Fort’. What does Auto-complete bring up? If you’re reading this, I bet it’s the word ‘Fortnite’. Now go to send a Tweet or a text or something and do the same. I bet your phone’s suggesting the words ‘Forton’ and ‘Fortnite’ before the word ‘Fortnight’. Not that this is doing the word ‘Fortnight’ any harm. Since Fortnite exploded, Google search results for the word ‘Fortnight’ have skyrocketed and I doubt many of these people were trying to find a term for “fourteen nights”.
“THE POWER OF FORTNITE COMPELS YOU” Microsoft screamed at Sony as the Japanese tech giant trashed around in resistance. “I CAST YOU OUT, RESISTANT SPIRIT” Nintendo chimed in. “But we’re the market leader and we’ve the best place to play Fortnite!” Sony retorted during a long evaluation period in which they weighed up their options before making a decision. Finally, the evil spirit was vanquished and the doors between consoles were opened. But seriously, Fortnite is such a force within gaming now that it was a primary reason Sony completely rethought their policy on cross play. It was bound to happen eventually; each and every tweet from an official PlayStation twitter account was met with a barrage of “Fortnite Cross-Play When?” tweets and it was starting be a really bad look for Sony.
While Fortnite cross play is currently in Beta with Sony, the Battle Royale game might be the crowbar that opens up the door for more games to enable cross platform play and that’s great for everyone involved.
7). The Word “Floss”
It might have been invented by an 16 year old Instagram-famous American schoolboy called Russell Horning but the immense popularity of ‘Flossing’, a dance move where you swing your arms around, came about because of Fortnite and its emote. Unfortunately, the word floss, which was synonymous with pulling string between your teeth to clean them up until 2017, has lost its original meaning entirely on the internet. In fact, right now, a Google search for the word ‘Floss’ brings back pages filled with a mix of videos on how to floss and articles on the popularity of the dance move before you even hit a ‘dental floss’ result. Poor Oral B.
8). Stacks of Tyres in games
Some things become ingrained within the collective gaming subconscious. Red barrels explode when they get shot. Eating food heals any ailment including gunshot wounds and scratches from a Deathclaw. Springs bounce you upwards, no matter what force you apply to them. A stack of tyres then, Fortnite’s own rubber bounce pad, is quickly embedding itself in the gaming lexicon. Since the release of Hello Neighbour on consoles, I’ve seen 3 separate YouTubers attempt (and fail) to jump on the tyres outside the house in the game to try and get a bounce, such is the relationship that a stack of tyres and bounce jumps now have thanks to Fortnite. Of course, Earthworm Jim started the bouncy tyres thing back in the 90’s and don’t you forget it.
9). The Vocabulary of Teenage Gamers
If there’s one odd positive to Fortnite, it’s that it’s helping younger gamers pronounce historically “tricky words” (as my son’s teacher describes them). Words like ‘Depot’ (From the long lost Dusty Depot), which when spoken phonetically is pronounced “de-pot”, is being pronounced correctly by many children thanks to Fortnite. There’s a greater understanding of terms like ‘links’ and ‘lodge’, words that are not often used outside of Golf courses and those attempting to survive a horror movie, too. As an inadvertent side effect, Fortnite is giving teenagers a bigger vocabulary.
Now, Epic Games, if you wouldn’t mind aligning your next map changes with the Key Stage 4 syllabus, that’d be great.
10). The Battle Royale Genre
Fortnite has truly and irreparably changed the face of Battle Royale games. Before it joined the genre, every BR game had one aim – be the last person standing. Fortnite revolutionised this by adding side challenges and tasks to complete which mean that even those who’ve never claimed a Victory Royale can still get some enjoyment out of it. Each week’s challenges adds a little more spice to the proceedings (especially when a named location is involved and you get 50 people descending on Greasy Grove or Haunted Hills looking for chests) as everyone attempts to level up to finally unlock John Wick/Ragnarok/Omega by earning those stars. It’s a smart retention system that almost every other BR game has started to adopt.